By Mr. Kevin Omokaro
The University of Benin held its 228th inaugural lecture on the 31st of October, 2019 at the Akin-Deko main Auditorium, Ugbowo campus. The lecture was delivered by Prof. Lendzemo Constantine Yuka, a professor of Linguistics. It was the 18th lecture in the Faculty of Arts and 2nd in the Department of Linguistics.
The auditorium was filled with guests from diverse walks of life. The principal officers were present led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof F.F.O Orumwense (FNSE) whom was represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics), Prof. Michael Aziken and a host of others.
The Vice Chancellor gave his opening speech and introduced the lecturer of the day alongside the topic: “On Mentalism and Value of the Mother Tongue.” The Vice Chancellor gave the audience a little glance into Prof. Yuka’s life and achievement while reading his biography.
Prof Yuka started his lecture by stating that “language expresses our inner humanity, that the language an individual speaks marks out the speaker, an identity tag that links the person to a community….” He explained that linguistics is a scientific study of language and linguistics are interested in the nature of language.
He emphasized that the mother tongue is one’s dominant language and went further to explain that learning is acquired through interactions with ones environment.
Prof Yuka stated that technological advances in the world today has heavily interrupted and influenced our languages and even culture. He gave Google as an example that Google translates text in only 57 languages but is not up to 1% of the world’s languages and 18of the 57 languages are Indo-European and none in African.
He recommended that the African government should saddle the responsibility of redirecting the energies of ministries and agencies to plan and develop indigenous languages which their citizens would employ effectively as their vehicle of thought expression. He also advocated that we could promote the African language or indigenous languages by seizing technological advances and through economic output.
He concluded the lecture by stating that apart from bad leadership, ethnicity, nepotism and corruption, that our inability to make right linguistic choices is part reason why Africans and Africa have been on a standstill on development race.
He charged the audiences and Africans at large to extract their mother tongues from the kitchen, ethnic meetings and city slums and employ them as weapons of change for Africa and Africans, who have rejected the mother tongue; we must now bring back the rejected stone as the headstone of the corner.
After the lecture, Prof. Yuka was decorated into the Inaugural Lecture Hall of Fame by the Vice Chancellor amidst his immediate family.
Watch: 228TH Inaugural Lecture Series