Still on Hausa and the International Mother Tongue Day

 Still on Hausa and the International Mother Tongue Day

Kasar Hausa


Muhsin Ibrahim

As much as we love English, we should embrace our indigenous languages. Language is more than a means for communication; it carries our identity. Ngugi wa Thinago rightly argues that our minds need to be decolonized by embracing our African languages and cherishing our beautiful cultures. Otherwise, one is still living in the bondage of colonialism, and that means living under mental, cultural, linguistic, etc. subjugation.

According to my respected teacher, speaking Hausa is not enough for Hausa people to brag that their language is not endangered. A language survives the onslaught of other more powerful languages when it is well documented. As I said yesterday, Kiswahili is ahead of Hausa, not because it has more speakers but because it’s well-documented, among other concerted efforts of its speakers in East Africa. Much unlike it, the number of writers in Hausa is drastically decreasing.

More telling is the press (print) in the Hausa language. Most of us patronize English language newspapers at the expense of indigenous language ones. Consequently, many have either closed shop or remain as appendages of the primary news media, which is also barely updated. The few active ones often resort to tabloidization as a strategy for survival. “The reporting style of tabloids emphasizes sensationalism, that is, the use of photographs and dramatic headlines” (Mpofu 2021:49). These media do precisely just that today.

To some people, whatever happens to the Hausa language is none of their business. To others like me, it is an issue of concern. I studied in India and do now in Germany, two non-English speaking countries that are way ahead of Nigeria. Thanks to their indigenous languages, schoolchildren don’t have to struggle with learning any foreign language and the concepts being taught. Needless to say, this eases their task and enable them to utilize the potentials of their citizens.

No one needs to remind me of the prestigious position of English in our world today. It’s essential, as I argued over and again previously. However, it’s not the MOST crucial language there is. Our mother tongues are, for they make us who we are. No proficiency in the English language can make you English. Learn it (English) or any other language very well but don’t throw away your mother tongue. You can’t have what is not yours or be who you are not.



Mpofu, P. (2021). “The politics of language and the underdevelopment of African language press in Zimbabwe” in Salawu, A. (Ed.). African Language Media: Development, Economics and Management. Pp. 35-52. London: Routledge.

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