Fears Okun Language Might Go Into Extinction

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Over the years, I have observed that among the three major tribes – Okun, Ebira and Igala – in Kogi state, it is very rare to see Ebira or Igala parents that does not speak their dialects to their children. Yes, they speak and understand it. However, this is not so with most Okun families I have seen.

Even within Okun towns and villages, indigenes speak Yoruba language instead of speaking their dialect. Most of the children now speak English and cannot properly construct a sentence in Okun dialect.

It might interest us to know that Okuns who lives in Igala and Ebira lands tend to speak their hosts’ dialects with pride. Some Okun who seeks deeper interactions and relationship with Igala and Ebira also learn to speak these dialects, at least in parts. But, we try to shy away from our own dialect.

Also, some think it is an elitist status when their children do not speak Okun dialect. Their ‘ajebo’ sons and daughters should not become local by learning their parents dialects.

If care is not taken, generations to come may simply never be able to speak Okun dialect again.

There is nothing wrong with our dialect. Nupe, Bassa, Ogori/Magongo people are proud of their languages. Just beside Kogi, Akokos in Ondo and Edo states teach their children and speak their dialect fluently. They are proud of their identity. This does not mean they are no longer Yoruba people.

Dialects are very important and the upcoming generations must be taught to speak in Okun with pride.

It is time for our creative minds to begin to think about an all-Okun captivating and modern movie, comedy skits, music genres, and other educative contents.

This is a wake up to Okun land !!!!

– Oloruntoba Leke Joseph, a Concerned Okun, writes from Lokoja.

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