Language, language, language. We have been focusing mostly on language as it’s a key aspect of our heritage. Our kids are being taught and exposed to the Igbo language, Nigerian English (lol), Engil-Igbo (haha), and very tiny Pidgin English. The need to get them to not only understand Igbo but to speak as well led to the creation of my company: Akwukwo LLC. I have put in quite some effort and our personal funds to develop top-notch relatable tools for my children, your children, all Igbo, half-Igbo and language loving children to learn Igbo globally… Today, I was just reflecting on Nigeria as our children will know it. Not the Nigeria I know. But Naija through their eyes and minds.
A few incidents that happened in Nigeria of recent, CC: the Tanker Explosion in Lagos, have reinforced some facts our generation already know about the country. Countless lives were lost. Multiple systems failed or were never in place to prevent such a calamity. Still, there is no indication that a root cause analysis is being conducted to understand what happened, know which company is responsible, prevent such in the future by enforcing minimum rules, compensate affected families although it will in no way bring their loved ones back, etc. All this sounds like wishful thinking and is unfortunately laughable. Sadly, people will laugh if you hint at root cause analysis for such an incident in Nigeria!
Even the idea that ‘affected’ families can be ‘compensated’ is a whole other can of worms… There is no clear record of who might have been in that explosion as, to my knowledge, there is no comprehensive database that could be used to run the plate numbers of affected vehicles. There is also NO record of folks in the public busses hence, will take a while to realize the true body count. Another angle is the fact that quite a few dishonest folks will come forward to claim being affected should compensation be offered… This explosion incident could have happened in western countries as well. Key difference is that someone/company will be held accountable; policies would be updated or enacted as a result; most victims would be identified; all affected families will be compensated; there will be a level of visibility to the public; etc.
The nation has apparently moved on from this incident and a few other ‘breaking news’ occurrences that constantly affect the citizens. This is something I still struggle to understand even though I was born and raised in Nigeria. How then am I able to explain these to my children as they grow? They are becoming more inquisitive by the hour and deserve an unbiased knowledge of the world they’re in. Now, I can’t promise a totally unbiased account from yours truly! Hahahaha! However, I do intend to be as fair as possible in my accounts of Nigeria to them as I do want them to associate with Nigeria but with caution. Same for the US by the way… yep, we are aware of and will be addressing racism, police brutality et al. with our kids. So, yes. Caution all round!
My children are learning Igbo, their native language. They are speaking and improving constantly. They do eat traditional Igbo/Nigerian food. Wear traditional clothing. Listen to some Igbo/Nigerian music. So, we are trying to ensure they learn beyond the language. That they understand not only Igbo but their heritage to some extent even though we’re in diaspora. It sure is a delicate balance as there are several aspects of tradition that I personally do NOT and have NEVER subscribed to. There are some specific NIGERIAN mentality that I just shudder at. There are also LOADS of traditions and NIGERIAN specific behaviors that I do love…. the trick and struggle for me is the ability to get all these across to my children so they have a realistic understanding of their heritage as they grow. Cause at the end of the day, language is an important aspect of heritage and so is tradition, behaviors, plus national attitude.
Hope this made some sense? How are you handling teaching your kids language? And beyond your native language? Have you even considered it? Hear, hear…
Chimmie Gbugu is the author of two children’s color boardbooks in the Igbo language (Ndu Anyi: Okigbo na Adanze and ABChD Igbo ) and informal teacher on the ‘Akwukwo LLC’ Igbo teaching YouTube Channel. She mothers’ her two active kids plus her newborn baby diligently non-stop; Engineers during the day; Travels far and wide; Bakes & cooks concoctions or rather innovatively; Teaches Sunday school; and is just dabbling into blogging.