Colonial Languages, Indigenous Languages and the Question of Development in the Fourth world: a Nigerian Literary Perspective

Nasir Umar Muhammad


Language is central to a peoples’ definition of themselves. Indigenous languages are means of improving educational quality by building and developing knowledge and experience gained from the immediate cultural environment of the learner. Language therefore becomes not only a tool for communication and knowledge, but also a fundamental attribute of cultural identity and empowerment both for an individual and the community he belongs. This paper seeks to prove that the literature of a people can best be expressed in their indigenous languages. This is principally so, if the literature is to have relevance to the vast majority it represents. The paper seeks to expand the notion that indigenous languages symbolize a deep, Lord-like connection between speakers of a language and their cultural identity. It also seek to further bring forward the argument that, maintaining first language abilities and enhancing them through the development of literacy and academic language skills actually leads to better academic outcomes. This by extension naturally brings about the much needed developments in the fourth world nations. From a Nigerian literary perspective, the paper attempts to show the ‘disconnect’ between the body of colonial and post-colonial literatures in English and the actual need of the peasantry. The mis-representation, mis-interpretation of the yearnings of the common man through European languages’ deliberate misadventure in Africa, is also to be elucidated in this paper as illegitimate and accidents of history. This misrepresentation and misinterpretation of peoples’ need is what compound the catastrophe of the fourth world people in Nigeria and Africa in general.


post colonial literature, Indigenous languages, Fourth World.

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