The Special Assistant on Culture in the Office of the Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom Prime Minister, Hajji Burhan Kyakuhaire Akiiki, has underscored the value of efforts put in to promote Runyoro/Rutooro local dialect at school and at home.
Representing the Omuhikirwa (Prime Minister) of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom at the hand out of books donated by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) at Hoima Public Library, Hajji Kyakuhaire said vernacular is one of the many aspects that define one’s culture and identity, thus, a vital and integral tool for communication and information sharing in any local area.
He said Runyoro/Rutooro being spoken inherently, makes Greater Bunyoro a culturally rich area that needs to be reinvigorated to sustain the language to all generations.
Mr Kyakuhaire added that in a typical Greater Bunyoro society, proficiency in the use of Runyoro/Rutooro is a sign of being knowledgeable of one’s culture and a measure of a source of cultural research.
Addressing people who had gathered at the Early Grade Reading Project that undertook the donation exercise on Friday, Ms Sylvia Nalumaga, the Hoima City Deputy Mayor, challenged Banyoro to desist from undermining Runyoro/Rutooro preferring speaking English with their children at home saying it corrodes their identity.
The politician said there is a need to promote local languages in the wider society since when it comes to matters connected to the preservation of customs and cultural heritage, ethnic languages play a vital role.
Ms Nalumaga continued that local languages play a significant part in ensuring the continuity and transmission of cultural norms that protect one’s identity and cultural dignity; challenging parents that although English remains an official language, it is incumbent upon them to teach their children their mother tongue while at home as a way of promoting it for posterity.
She said that schools should teach and encourage learners to speak both their mother languages and English while parents should emphasise on teaching local languages at home for children not to forget their heritage.
“Most parents think that English is the most important language. I feel bad when they restrict their children from speaking their local languages even at home,” she said.
Audio: Nalumaga on speaking mother tongue (Runyoro/Rutooro)
Ms Amina Kaherebu Ssekirembe, USAID’s Early Grade Reading Project Manager in-charge of the Albertine region, revealed that reading and writing skills among learners have already been bolstered in more than 665 schools where they are operating in Hoima city, Hoima, Kikuube and Kyenjojo districts.
She called for all stakeholders’ efforts in fighting absenteeism among both learners and teachers and also combat school dropout for improved academic performance and an elite society correspondingly.
Audio: Kaherebu on absenteeism (English)
Based on the history characterised by foreign invasions and the wave of colonialism that swept much of Africa in the 19th century, the continent is divided into three major lingua francas with foreign origins. These languages have become synonymous with the identity in describing the regions where their use is prevalent.
The lingua francas include the Anglophone learning eastern and southern regions of Africa, the Arab-speaking north and the Francophone west.
Foreign languages in Africa are prioritised in use more than local languages as evidenced in their wide use in various disciplines including governance as the preferred language of instruction in academia and commerce inter-alia.
For many years, in a typical African society, proficiency in their use was perceived as a sign of being well-educated and civilised.
Abandoning and despising one’s language while at the same time claiming proficiency in the use of other languages is a small achievement. It can strongly indicate that someone is still haunted by esteem issues associated with mental slavery.
However, learning other languages is good as this helps one to explore diverse cultures from different countries worldwide.