Tuesday 7 April 2009

April in Yoruba is?

My tongue is not of my mother

I have had this song going on in my head for days an aide memoir for the months of the year in Yoruba. Yoruba is my mother’s tongue but it is not my mothertongue, I did not start to speak Yoruba with any level of quality till I was almost 10.

I had mostly spoken English and my accent was somewhere between a Brummie accent (thankfully, I have lost that trait) from the West Midlands in the UK and the corruption that comes with growing up in a mixed society in Nigeria.

My Nigerian friends thought my accent was foreign whilst my English friends though it was foreign, the other nationalities of Chinese, Japanese and Romanian because I do remember Maya who prevented me from coming first so many time just knew I was born abroad.

Horrible Yoruba lessons

In fact, there were people who from the time we returned to Nigeria addressed me as the Omo Ilu Oyinbo - The child of the white man’s land.

I eventually learnt Yoruba but never enough to make a decent passing grade in secondary school, the Yoruba teacher was a cross between Marquis de Sade and a witch, she was wicked, shrill, and nasty; she punished us in ways that would make the torture revelations we hear of today sound like tiddlywinks.

I have been away from Nigeria a long time but many would say the standard and quality of my Yoruba speaking is good, I use proverbs and sayings and can crack jokes.

Who are the Yoruba?

More recently, I have been concerned about where Yoruba is going as a language, culture and heritage, I was taken aback when it took a couple of Cubans to make me aware of the richness of the Yoruba culture that remains vibrant in Cuban through Lukumi and in Brazil through Candoble.

Just as the history and traditions of the Greeks are exemplified in their mythologies that they have not given up for new religions, that of the Yoruba is in their traditions and animist mythologies that have been labeled inherently evil by strange religions that have left us bereft of our roots and bequeathed a heritage that is neither Middle-Eastern nor American - I suggest brand of convoluted Islamo-Churchianity with a Nigerian slant.

The months quiz

One of the things you learn with a new language is the calendar months of the year, Yoruba has those too and the song going on in my head has been that of the Yoruba months of the year, my classmate Goke taught me, I have the memory of an elephant.

I have created a quiz mainly directed at the Yorubas to list the months of the year.

Do not rush off to Wikipedia seeking help until you have completed the quiz, even a good bit of that information is totally wrong, like there are 4 days in a week, 7 weeks in a month and 93 weeks in a year, never use Wikipedia as an authoritative source.

Are you as Yoruba as you think you are or is your rudimentary Yoruba deceiving you into thinking you can really conduct a decent conversation entirely in Yoruba?

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