By Deji Abdulwahab
Mr Li Xuda, the Director, China Cultural Centre, Abuja, has called for promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity in order to ensure sustainable societies.
Xuda gave the advice in Abuja on Tuesday at the commemoration of the 2022 International Mother Language Day with the theme “Using Technology for Multilingual Learning: Challenges and Opportunities’’.
He described Peoples Republic of China and Federal Republic of Nigeria as multi-ethnic and multi-lingual countries.
“From what I know, Nigeria has more than 250 ethnic groups and over 500 languages, meanwhile China has 56 ethnic groups and many of them have their own languages and cultures.
“To defend our national unity and boost our social progress, we must learn to seek common ground while reserving differences.
“We must uphold harmony in diversity to create a harmonious world with peaceful development of mankind,’’ Xuda, who is also Cultural Counselor of the Chinese Embassy said.
He said that the theme of the day would proffer ways to unlock the potential of technology, advance multilingual education, support the development of quality teaching and learning for all.
He commended the Ministry of Information and Culture for its initiative and tireless efforts to make the event possible.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said that the ministry had embarked on series of research and documentation on endangered languages over the years.
The minister, who was represented by Dr Ifeoma Anyanwutaku, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Culture, said that the purpose was to prevent the nation’s intangible rich cultural heritage from going into extinction.
The international Mother Language Day was set aside by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to commemorate the sad massacre that occurred between the Bengali speaking people of Dhaka in Indonesia on Feb. 21, 1952.
He added that the initiative to celebrate mother tongue day at the 1999 UNESCO General Assembly was proposed by Bangladesh.
According to him, the ministry has keyed into the mandate of UNESCO by celebrating this year’s International Mother Language Day.
The objectives of the day include the preservation of linguistics diversity, promotion of mother tongue-based multilingual education and prevention of the extinction of indigenous languages.
Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture, urged Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of speaking their indigenous languages to prevent them from going on extinction.
Runsewe, who said many people had lost their rich cultural heritage to foreign ones, urged them to emulate citizens of Bangladesh and China who speak their dialects as way of communication.