Shendam(Plateau) – Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau has urged ethnic groups in the country to preserve their languages and save them from extinction.
Lalong made the call on Saturday at the 2015 Gamai Cultural Festival in Shendam Local Government Area of the state, where he hails from.
He said that languages were vital tools for interacting and expressing ideas, emotions, knowledge, memories and values.
“Languages are also primary vehicles of cultural expressions and intangible cultural heritage, essential to the identity of individuals and groups.
“Safeguarding endangered languages is thus, a crucial task in maintaining cultural diversity, worldwide.
“The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO’s) recent reports on endangered languages shows that half of the 6,700 languages spoken all over the world are in danger of disappearing before the century ends.
“Already, 417 languages are almost out of use; 47 of them are in Africa and 15 are from Nigeria,” the governor said.
He also said that language remained a weapon of cultural empowerment and should not be allowed to die like many extant languages of the world.
Lalong assured that the state government, through the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality and cultural associations, would ensure the streamlining of cultural festivals and boost the rich cultural heritage of the state.
He urged the Gamai to use the festival with its theme: ‘’Unity and Peace’’ to ensure peaceful coexistence among the different groups in the state.
Mr Thomas Shialsuk, President, Gamai Unity and Development Organization (GUDO), said the festival was to foster understanding between the Gamai nation and its neighbours as well as residents of Gamai land.
Shialsuk thanked Plateau people for electing their son as the governor of the state.
The Chairman of the occasion and Elder Statesman, Alhaji Yahaya Kwande, urged Gamai people to support the govenor to succeed.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the governor was honoured at the festival with a traditional attire and there was also display of cultural dances and a book launch.(NAN)