By Aaron Ossai
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has expressed concerns over existential threats to indigenous languages in the country.
He spoke Saturday, in Lubo community of Yamaltu-Deba Local Government Area of Gombe state, during the launching of the New Testament Bible in Tera language, the local language in Lubo and environs and urged leaders to evolve ways of preserving Indigenous languages.
The Speaker, who made several analogies from Biblical narrations, including that of the tower of Babel, stressed the importance of preserving local languages as doing so has a great impact on unity and identity.
Referring to scriptures, he said: “In the early time when God wanted to disperse people, He took their language, and that has been included here in the story of the building of the tower of Babel. We all know what happens when people set their hearts to achieve, and God said if I leave them, perhaps they might get to me, and the only way to scatter their determination was for God Himself to scatter their language, and that was the end of that project.”
“And then when God sought to bring back his people and reunite them, he restored the language. It therefore means anyone who steals your language has stolen your unity, and you need unity to make progress. It was lack of unity on the account of the lack of the common language that destroyed the project of the tower of Babel. So if Terra language were to go into extinction, I tell you it will affect the unity of the Terra people which is God-given”, he added.
Citing another example with the first mass evangelism which was conducted by the disciples, the Speaker stated that; “God’s intention was for the Gospel to be preached in tongues. As a matter of fact, there’s the gift of tongues in the scriptures, and the reason being that if you can reason in your native language, you’ll be able to interpret the Gospel more, and better.”
“The Gospel was meant to be preached, but there’s no better preaching than living the Gospel; it’s not in words, the Bible said, but it’s in the demonstration of the spirit and of power. You can only do that when you imbibe the Gospel and make it part of you. So when you hear the Gospel in your native language, the tendency is for you to imbibe it more and more”, he added.
He further urged Christians in the locality to embody scriptural injunctions, and expressed confidence that a Bible in their language would help to achieve just that.
“I believe that for Terra-speaking Christians this endeavor will make them better Christians as they seek to reflect Christ in character, content, discipline and in profession, it’s a commendable thing.”
The Speaker and Members who accompanied him then pledged to purchase 500 copies of the Bible for Christians in the locality who could not afford to acquire one.