By John Owoo
(In Accra – Ghana)
Dr. Ziblim Iddi, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture last Saturday led a group of academics, writers, poets, civil / public servants, poets and students for a reading in local languages during the maiden edition of the Ghana Reading Festival.
Completely dedicated to local languages, readings from novels, poems, reviews and texts in various local languages including Ga, Twi, Dagbani, Nzema, Ewe, Krobo, Fanti and others mesmerized guests as the poetic and diction power of our languages were laid bare.
Undeniably, the aspirational and commercial value that English commands is appreciated, but it appears that our impeccable English is at the cost of our inability to read, write and speak our own local languages.
In a brief speech, Dr. Iddi said habits, values, nuances and others are shaped by our mother tongues both in tangible and intangible ways adding that our languages are currently endangered while averring that we need a sustained effort to make it vibrant.
He called for the translation of books on science and other disciplines into local languages while appealing to parents to allow their kids to speak and read books in local languages since our local languages are indispensable instruments of intellectual, physical and moral aspects of education.
The Chairman of the National Media Commission Nana Gyan-Appenteng said the lack of support and investment resulted in the disappearance of publications in local languages from bookshelves and newspaper stands while stressing that connotations of inferiority associated with local languages exacerbated the problem.
Acting Director of the Bureau of Ghana Languages, Philip Essien stated that his outfit is bent on using the festival to inculcate the habit of reading in the local languages among the youth since most of the adults have lost the interest and ability to read in the local languages.
Awards were presented to personalities who have contributed in diverse ways to the development and sustenance of local languages. They include Prof. Kofi Agyekum, Dr. Osei Kwame Despite, Ataa Oko Dagadu, I.S. Blay, Daniel Adi, Seth Akafia, Urfang Bobar Mgnensoo and Tia Sulemana.
The Bureau of Ghana Languages organized the festival under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.