My daughters are 3 and 1 years old. As a Mum living in London, it hasn’t been easy trying to raise them to be fluent in Yoruba because of the lack of educational materials and constant exposure, but I can offer some tips that has been helpful for me.

1. Just speak it! – My first tip is just that. Speak Yoruba to them. I started off quite well when my first daughter was still a baby but I think I started slacking when I went back to work and she started talking. She was with her Nanny who only spoke English to her all day and so she also spoke to me in English. I in turn automatically responded to her in English. One day I asked her to tell me her age in Yoruba and she had forgotten how to say it. That’s when I realised I had to go back to the drawing board. Since then I’ve made a conscious effort to speak Yoruba to her all the time.

For some it may not come naturally because you’re probably more used to speaking English but the more you speak it the more natural it becomes.

If you don’t speak Yoruba but want your children to speak it then I would encourage you to ask your partner to speak only Yoruba to them and also follow my Tip No 4.

 

2. Singing – Children absolutely love music and my girls are no exception. We have regular spontaneous and planned singing sessions. Spontaneous in the sense that we can make up songs whilst walking to and from school, on the bus or in the car. Anything could be the subject of our songs. It could be a car passing which prompts ‘Ta lo wa ninu ọkọ yen – Who is in that car’ or we see an aeroplane up in the sky and start singing our favourite song ‘Eropileni o daabo – Goodbye aeroplane’.

In our car, we have Afrobeats mix CDs that we always listen to, the evergreen Ebenezer Obey CD that sadly is now scratched but I still love listening to, and many other Yoruba songs that we like.

We also have planned sessions at home when we sing and dance along to our CultureTree Yoruba nursery rhymes and folk songs.

 

3. Bedtime Stories – I don’t read to them every night but I do try to read a Yoruba story to them at least twice a week. I bought a collection of books from Amazon that have been translated to Yoruba. I also tell them stories from memory like the Ijapa (Tortoise) folktales. Our story times are quite interactive, I ask my 3 year old questions and encourage her to reply in Yoruba, for example, after reading Adiye Handa – Handa’s Hen, I’ll ask her ‘Kini oruko Adiye Handa? – What’s the name of Handa’s Hen’;  ‘Kini oruko ọrẹ re – What’s Handa’s friend’s name’ etc. It’s just a way to create dialogue and encourage her to be confident in speaking Yoruba. Make sure you choose books that you also like because you will have to read it every other night.

4. Nanny/childminder/grandparents – If your child is not yet at school or still goes to a care-giver such as a Nanny or childminder, I would encourage choosing someone who is fluent in Yoruba and can speak it to them. I have a friend who swears by this. She is even surprised at how advanced her child’s vocabulary is in Yoruba. Also, ask their grandparents who speak Yoruba to speak to them ONLY in Yoruba. This not only builds a strong bond but also means they have no alternative but to speak it if they want to communicate with their grandparents.

5. Be patient – it can be frustrating at times when it seems you’re doing all the talking or your child asks you for the umpteenth time how to say ‘I want’. Try to continue making the learning process fun and positive. Don’t make it an assignment or a task they have to complete. Relax and enjoy speaking to your child in Yoruba.

I hope you find these tips helpful. Please do share if you have any tips of your own. What steps have you taken in teaching your child/ren Yoruba? I’d love to hear from you.

Next week, I’ll be sharing tips on what to do when your child won’t speak Yoruba but responds only in English.

We recently came across a website called KnowThatNanny and were so impressed with the concept that we decided it was worth sharing with everyone.

KnowThatNanny is an online platform currently aimed at the Nigerian market where employers can post reviews about their current and past domestic staff and these reviews will essentially provide other employers who may want to hire those staff in future with more information and reviews about their potential staff before they are hired.

Oloruntobiloba (Tobi) Onalaja is the brains behind this brilliant idea. We caught up with him and here’s what he had to say.

YorubaMums interview

YM: Tell us briefly about KnowThatNanny. What is your mission? (Why do you think it is important to have this sort of service in Nigeria?)

TO: KnowThatNanny’s mission and motto is all about making a change in the community. We want to change the way Nigerians hire domestic staff, one review at a time. We created a unique centralised reviewing platform called the “Nanny Checker” which is a growing user-generated database of domestic staff and their reviews that we have made free to access to the public. Through this platform families can share experiences regarding domestic staff and help other people who might be about to potentially hire criminals. Our service aims make sure that we can praise good staff whilst also advising other people about the staff that should be avoided.

While the name is KnowThatNanny, we are not restricted to Nannies alone, but every form of domestic staff such as housekeepers, drivers, cleaners, maids etc.

 

YM: How does this site work?

TO: The site is user friendly and it is very easy to read reviews and submit reviews. Let’s assume you’ve interviewed a potential staff who is called Miss Christiana Green to take care of your children while you’re at work and you seem to like her, but you want to know a bit more about her from the perspective of someone who has actually used her. However, when you ask her about her previous employers, she tells you that her previous employer travelled so she is unable to contact her. At this point, you can visit KnowThatNanny from either your mobile phone or your laptop, access our Nanny Checker and search for Christiana Green.

Once you find her profile, you can read reviews left by her previous employers which will give you further information to help you make a better decision before hiring. Her profile will also give details of the agent/agency responsible for her and provide contact details for her. Along with this, if you still require additional information about Christiana Green, KnowThatNanny can act as neutral point for both the potential employer and the previous employers to freely communicate with each other without giving out any personal contact information.

We have also made it very easy for former employers to leave staff reviews. Once you fill out the form and click send, our review team will verify your review to try and make sure it is true, fair and family friendly. Shortly after this is done, you will receive a confirmation email showing the status of your review and, where appropriate, asking for an upload of a picture of the staff being reviewed.

Along with the review system and our unique database, we also have an integrated forum which will provide another portal whereby users can interact with each other and share different topics and opinions ranging from general parenting advice, to funny experiences that they may have.

 

YorubaMums interview with KnowThatNanny

YM: Who is your target market?

TO: At the moment the website is targeted at all parents and homeowners, especially mothers who play an active role in the hiring of domestic staff within their homes. We have currently launched in Nigeria, and will be taking this to more countries in the near future. We are encouraging our target audience to use the free and readily available service and to also submit reviews which will help other users in their search for domestic staff. They can review staff who are currently in their employment as well as previous staff.

 

YM: What has the reception to the business been so far?

TO: The reception to the website and the business so far has been absolutely amazing. The entire service has had so much positive feedback and that alone gives us a lot of faith and gratitude to God as we realise that the entire business will change the way we hire domestic staff for the better and potentially create a safer environment for families.

When I first came up with the idea, I had so much support, not just from my family, but from everyone who used the website. Users are beginning to realise that the way we hire people that work within our homes and close to our children could be done better, and when they visit KnowThatNanny, they are amazed at the positive impact it will make in their hiring process.

 

YM: What are your future aspirations for the business? Where do you see it in 5 years’ time?

TO: We want the service we provide with KnowThatNanny to continue being free to the public, as such information should be open and readily available. At the moment the website is becoming an extra step people can take before they hire domestic staff, and in 5 years, I see it becoming a necessary step people will know they must take before letting staff work/live in their homes.

Ultimately, it will become a platform which will ensure that criminals who were able to move from home to home freely committing crimes, will be unable to do so anymore. Along with this, we see the website becoming a social hub for all parents and homeowners, whereby if someone has a problem, question or even a casual story they want to share with other like-minded people, they can discuss freely and receive feedback from each other via our built in forum.

child-playing-promotion-2

 

YM: Finally, please share your website link and social media handles.

Website: https://www.knowthatnanny.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/KnowThatNanny/

Twitter: @KnowThatNanny

Instagram: @know.that.nanny

 

YM: We wish KnowThatNanny all the success in the world!

Some mums in the YorubaMums Facebook group have joined me in a challenge where we speak, or better yet, try to speak ONLY Yoruba to our children. No English, just Yoruba!

The challenge started about 2 weeks ago and it has been hard. From conversations with my fellow challengers, there has been many slip-ups but what we always try to do is repeat what we’ve said in English again in Yoruba.

I met up with a friend of mine from Gambia to ask for some tips. She speaks 6, yes SIX languages fluently and her 3 year old son is fully bilingual in Fula and English.

Watch the video below to hear my brief chat with her. I hope it helps other parents trying to pass on their language to their children. As she said, consistency is key!

PS. Dads, e ma binu, abeg no vex ehn! You are also very important and also play your part in passing on our culture and language, but in most cases (not all) you know we Mums spend more time with the children so they learn more from us. We will have something for you very soon too. Thank you for your support!

 

Food is central to many cultures and we Yorubas are no exception. From having our family meals at home, to eating out at parties, food is something we like to enjoy with others. And as a caring and polite people, it is customary in Yoruba land to invite others to eat with you whenever you are eating in front of someone who is not. The person without food could be a complete stranger but you will still ask them to come eat. You will say “E wa jeun.” (“Come and eat”). That person may actually start eating your food with you if they do care to join you and this is not considered rude at all but rather a joy to the ‘host’, or they could decline the offer by saying “A gba bi re.” (“May it go down well.”)

I was brought up on this culture and looking around me nowadays, I wonder if this practice is still ‘alive and well’ or dying a slow painful death. You see, I believe that our ancestors had good intentions with this gesture in Yoruba Land. Showing good hospitality towards our visitors and also (especially) strangers is a Yoruba man/woman’s hallmark.

I moved to the UK nearly 7 years ago. At first, I would invite my colleagues at work to join me when I ate my lunch but quickly noticed that it was lost on the Brits (i.e. they did not appreciate nor understand why I said so). However, my colleagues from other African countries understood (must be an African thing maybe?) and they even invited me to join them when they were eating their lunch. So now, I only say “Come and eat/E wa jeun” to fellow Africans/Nigerians and don’t even bother my head with core British people.

Interestingly, the Chinese have a casual greeting between friends and neighbours which translates in English as “Have you eaten yet?” and is used as casually as we say “how are you?” Supposedly then, this caring side to our culture is shared by the Asians.

Professor Sophie Oluwole once said that “There is no culture that is absolutely good, neither is there a culture that is absolutely bad. We must search our culture and cling to what is good therein while doing away with what is not, in order to bring about progress in the community” In this increasingly ‘westernised’ world which we live in, I sincerely hope that those excellent virtues of Yoruba life is upheld and more importantly, passed on to our children. Ire o!!!!!

Written by YorubaMum: Mojisola Wadsworth