Mother Tongue

Describe something outside of your intended academic focus about which you are interested in learning.


There was an intruder in my home; I was certain of it. I held my breath and pushed open my bedroom door slowly. A wave of foreign, discordant sounds struck me where I secretly crouched, turning my muscles to stone. But when I summoned the courage to peer into the clandestine gap I had made, it was my mother I saw. I had never known my mother to speak any other language but English. I challenged her when she had ended her animated conversation on the phone; why had she never taught me to speak her native tongue? My mother merely shrugged dismissively, saying that it was a dying language and it was typically the father's responsibility to teach the children. The exclusivity of the language only made the prospect of learning it seem more desirable.

To understand my desperation for a "mother tongue" as a child is to understand the Nigerian construct that identity lies in language. My yellow complexion fuelled assumptions that I belonged to the Ibo tribe. My studious ways led my teachers to believe I was a Yoruba, one of the first advocates of formal education in our country. The manner with which I spoke english(a consequence of my British education) led some to believe I was not Nigerian at all. I often dreamed of smiling...

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