AJAP - AMAMIHE Journal of Applied Philosophy
Vol. 20 No. 2, 2022
LANGUAGE IN NIGERIA: A NATIONAL QUESTION
Prof. Jerome Ikechukwu Okonkwo

ABSTRACT

Nigeria as a sovereign independent nation has a colonial history. This history which took its origin in 1914 with the colonial amalgamation histories, also marked the 'conglomerate' and assembly of a multitude of independent ethno-lingual cultures and thereby also historically the common register of the colonial political geography of 1960 Nigeria as 'Many voices one Nigeria'. This history begs for the national question in Nigeria - the key to this paper. The above noted national question of Nigeria is still today firmly entrenched in the grounds of indigenous languages and the ‘colonial multi-national-lingualamalgams’. This fact was effectively presented and got enshrined in our first National Anthem where it is freely and consciously expressed as follows: Though tribe and tongue may differ in brotherhood we stand! This same stanza in the first national anthem begs again for the question: Though we differ! How do we form a Nation? Furthermore, the above stanza with the inbuilt and powerful expressive signals of integrative doubts in matters of unity and co-habitation, heralds the common consciousness of multi-ethnicity, multi-tribes, multi-tongues etc., and therefore the national language/languages/ linguistic, cultures, ethnicities, Nigerian nationalism - Quo Vadis? This paper intends to present indigenous languages as the tool of tools and key to the existential heart-beat of any given people which if any of such a language is lost or dies, the people's ethnicity and identity dies too and such a people will become partial contact and/or fringe dwellers when and where they are expected to have the natural rights of citizenship. The Nigerian national question can therefore be summed-up from the varied faces of the language albums of Nigeria.

Keywords: Language, National Question, Nationalism, Brotherhood, Human Nature
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