Language is not only a key component of communication; it is also a key aspect of identity.
In present-day Nigeria, it is estimated that there are over 40 million Yoruba primary and secondary language speakers as well as several other millions of speakers outside Nigeria, making it the most widely spoken African language outside of the continent.
Yorùbá is a Niger-Congo language related to Igala, Edo, Ishan, and Igbo amongst others. It is one of the principal languages of Nigeria and spoken in a couple of countries in the West African coast. An estimated 20+ million people speak Yorùbá as their first language in southwestern Nigeria and more in the Republics of Benin and Togo. Diaspora communities of traders in Cote d’Ivore, Ghana, Senegal and the Gambia, also speak Yorùbá and it used to be a vibrant language in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Outside West Africa, millions of people have Yorùbá language and culture as part of their heritage.
A mixture of the old and new decendants of the Yorùbá now live in North America, the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe. Yorùbá is one of the most extensively researched of all sub-Saharan languages and cultures, and has a long tradition of oral verbal production (oral literature) within indigenous cosmopolitan which is receptive of both Islamic and Christian cultures. Yorùbá is one of the many African languages that one is sure to hear people speak in the buses and the underground trains in several parts of London; a BBC reporter has compared Rye Lane in Peckham, South East London, to a mini-Lagos, where one can hear several people speaking loudly in Yorùbá as they go about their shopping.
It has also spread to North America, Europe, the Caribbean Islands and Brazil where it is alleged that Yoruba could become one of their official languages.
This makes it imperative for Yoruba parents to ensure that their children take their rightful place before it is taken from them. This can be done by ensuring that the Yoruba language is spoken consistently at home.