Indigenous Language Endangerment as the Hearse of Democratic Culture among the Yoruba People of Nigeria

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Samson Olusola Olatunji


There is a proven intricate interconnectedness between language and culture. Most Yoruba political office holders demonstrate degrees of English language proficiency as evidence of English-medium Western education. It is thus logical to expect them to have become democratic in behavior. However, many that have held political posts in Nigeria have proved undemocratic. One then wonders how they successfully avoided being “infected” by the democratic values of Western cultures. One could logically conclude that a typical Yoruba politician is unable to learn democratic values from Western education because of the long history of the monarchical system of government. This paper, however, probed the existence of democratic values in Yoruba precolonial government. Data were obtained from 200 respondents through a mix of accidental and stratified sampling techniques. A four-item interview guide was administered to the respondents by the researcher. Among the findings is that the Yoruba language is replete with proverbs, aphorisms, and idioms capable of promoting democratic values. Comprehensive implementation of mother-tongue-based multilingual education up to the end of secondary school level is thus recommended for the preservation of the democratic values of their traditional cultures to facilitate adequate understanding of Western democratic literacy.


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