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Why my Parents didn’t Teach My Siblings & I Yoruba – Tomi Adeyemi | Watch



Bestselling author Tomi Adeyemi in a recent chat with BBC What’s New? talked about growing up in a Nigerian home while living in the U.S.

The 25-Year-old writer of Children of Blood and Bone shared why her parents did not teach her and her siblings their native language – Yoruba.

She said they didn’t teach them because they wanted to use it as a ‘secret language’ so her and her siblings won’t know what they’re talking about.

Tomi shared that she always teases her parents for denying them the opportunity while commenting on adjusting to the life of being a child of first generation immigrants.



  1. Give me a break

    August 22, 2018 at 6:40 pm

    What a lame excuse!!!! They couldn’t go to their bedroom ( or elsewhere) and talk in private.

    • Olivia Ruth

      August 22, 2018 at 7:44 pm

      Actually, it is not. That’s the exact same reason my parents did not speak Yoruba to us. It was “for them”

      Every time my parents wanted to talk about something they did not want us to understand, they would speak in Yoruba

    • What a pity

      August 23, 2018 at 1:08 am

      Sorry for you for defending such hog wash.

  2. Justmyopinion

    August 22, 2018 at 7:36 pm

    I once had a friend from Kenya who refused to teach her kids her Language because she claimed they have a lot of vulgar words in it….I wonder then if English is the purest Language ever. What a shame!

  3. Cocolette

    August 22, 2018 at 7:52 pm

    One of the regrets I have is not knowing how to speak my dialect very well. I am about 60percent fluent in my native language but I fall very short when it comes to my dialect.
    I would love my children to speak my native language very fluently and also to speak my dialect or their father’s but I don’t know how I’ll do it since they’ll most likely be raised abroad

  4. Confuzzled

    August 22, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    Very selfish I must say.

  5. 9ja

    August 22, 2018 at 9:28 pm

    Born and raised in the US, and frankly there was a generation and breed of Nigerian (probably African) parents who (as absurd it may sound these days) who actually took weird pride in the fact that their US-born kids do not speak Nigerian languages. If I had a penny for every time someone said (often in an affected accent) “Johnny does not speak Yoruba/Efik/Twe/Swahili/Etc”, seemingly beaming with tortured pride, I would have been a billionaire. Thankfully, that mindset is gradually (albeit not entirely) turning.

  6. 9ja

    August 22, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    *rapidly (but not entirely) changing*

  7. jade

    August 22, 2018 at 11:08 pm

    chai, inferority complex will continue to kill Africans and remain at the bottom.African parents think its cute not toknow the native language, it makes one seem more civilized and westernized. Yorubas even try small, igbo and benin parent are worst.
    No matter how long and Asians who are born here, by force they speak the language. They help their parent at the nail shops, beauty shops

  8. Baybie

    August 22, 2018 at 11:23 pm

    Secret language? LOL

  9. coly

    August 23, 2018 at 1:45 am

    Slavery mentality

  10. OA

    August 23, 2018 at 2:29 am

    Hmmm, looking back, my parents did speak Yoruba to us growing up, but we never spoke it back to them. It was almost as if we would be considered disrespectful if we did. Almost like we were “egbe” (age mates). It was encouraged though. The part me I don’t understand is this new wave of children born and growing up in Nigeria who don’t speak their native language at all! When I see them I’m like “haba, even kids born and being raised abroad know more native language than you.”

    • Mama

      August 23, 2018 at 4:07 am

      I was born and grew up entirely in Nigeria but do not speak my language. In my case , although my parents are from same state, they don’t speak the same language and so none of their languages was used at home. To make matters worse, we didn’t live in my home state, so there was no opportunity to even learn from those around. Thankfully, I understand at least one Nigerian language and that’s what I plan to teach my kids. They will learn their father’s language too.

    • Mama

      August 23, 2018 at 4:09 am

      BN, why does my comment need to await moderation? What’s the trigger word?

    • Randommer

      August 23, 2018 at 7:45 am

      Lol same here but luckily there were lots of other people to talk to in Yoruba. My siblings can’t speak it even my sister and I are pretty close in age. I think it just has to with one’s ability and desire to learn a language. I travel quite a bit now and never make an attempt to even learn how to say thank you in the local language.

  11. Anon

    August 23, 2018 at 2:48 am

    Honestly, the girl has tried. She may not speak Yoruba, but she is clearly in tune with her Nigerian and Yoruba roots based on the book. Please let us focus on children born and raised in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya etc. There is an epidemic going on and I don’t think people fully realise it. There are children of Yoruba, Igbo, Esan, Efik parents. i.e. same ethnic group parents who are born and raised in Nigeria and speak ONLY ENGLISH!!!! It is sickening and very very disgraceful! I grew up in Akure and of Igbo parentage. I speak both Yoruba and Igbo! My parents spoke it to us and that is how we picked up the language and culture. It is truly a travesty. These parents almost say it with pride – that their children do not speak Yoruba, Igbo etc. yet the parents speak it to each other. Those are the ones we need to heap our insults on. I beg this young lady is putting naija on the map…..and I will give her a pass for not speaking Yoruba. She is an American child….those of you with inferiority complex who live in Africa have failed woefully if your children neither speak your native language nor know the culture!

    • Wande

      August 23, 2018 at 4:03 am

      Akure girl here too! Ara awe! Akure Igbos were such a treasure and enigma growing up. Y’all made me have a special respect for your culture. Parents back then made sure their kids didn’t lose their heritage so they all spoke Igbo, while also making sure the kids were well integrated and could speak Yoruba with their friends. Respect!
      Meanwhile, my sister has two kids and oddly appears disappointed that her son now understands Yoruba. I’m just here confused af! But am I surprised? NOPE! This madam gave her shiren oyinbo names so that westerners won’t have trouble saying their names. Egbami! shiren that live in Nigeria o! I complained a couple of times and just started watching her like film… because it was already looking like I was forcing my “pan-Africanism agenda” down her throat lol!

    • Randommer

      August 23, 2018 at 7:49 am

      She can still learn Yoruba, not too late. As for these hysterics about children in Nigeria speaking English only, it’s mlnot always because their parents have an inferiority complex. For some kids you have to be more intentional and our parents who grew up in a time where almost everyone was at least bilingual don’t often realize this. They just think oh the kid will learn like they did.

  12. Dust

    August 23, 2018 at 8:23 am

    she should learn any language she wants to learn she is an adult and she should stop saying “her parents” bcos “her parents” no longer make decisions for her..

    It mostly due to inferiority complex and self hate and most of these “parents” don’t know this..

  13. Mamamia

    August 23, 2018 at 8:47 am

    My kids must learn all 3 fractions of the Nigerian language no excuses. Even if they have to go on holidays in a remote village, they must speak. I don’t want book smart kids that cant also be street smart. Balance.

  14. Olivia Ruth

    August 27, 2018 at 11:30 am

    “Give me a break” called it a lame excuse. I provided added statistic in my example that the author is not the only Nigerian child who was not brought up speaking her language, EXACTLY for the reason she cited.

    And you say “sorry for me for defending such…”

    What exactly am I defending? *confused*

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