Cover Story

Does Bari language face extinction? (Part 1)


Alex Elia Lado

Many of my Bari Community members, more specifically former colleagues at the University of Juba in Khartoum, used to laugh at me whenever I posed my opinion’s subject question more than a decade–and–half years ago.

Some of them rubbished it from the start a feeling I could only compare to throwing a baby with bath water.

Though I was highly convinced that my native language faced extinction, I confidently held to the fact that the subject and heading of my piece was a forgone conclusion, it was not a matter of whether the language faces extinction but how and when?

I quite knew there were convincing facts to proof that indeed historical and scientific evidences of language clearly pointed to the fact that the quality of Bari language had been eroded, and what left was a pale shadow of itself after all many other languages, the world over have disappeared throughout human history.

Some of my closest friends cannot believe or imagine that a rich and most–widely–used language such as Bari would one day be no more through extinction.

Today, the nagging question in minds and hearts of most Brai intellectuals is not whether the Bari language will be no more, but the threats that would lead to a language’s extinction.

As an opinion writer, let me throw a wind of caution to my esteem readers that this piece seeks to add value in an already existing knowledge about the Bari Community and does not in anyway seek to undermine or hurt anyone’s feelings or thoughts. 

I therefore seek to write this opinion to engage my readers on the grave concern about an imminent extinction of Bari language. I wish to strive to appreciate the language in its holistic picture aimed at preserving it in our families, clan, and society for the prosperity.

The Bari is the community that host a cocktail or blend of both arrogance and pride to the disadvantage of their language survival.

The fast and rapid – decline in the use of Bari language among Bari people across the Bariland today is an insinuation that the language has passed the alarming and entered endangerment stage, and that if not given the due protection and well–deserved attention, it might fast becoming extinct. 

It is also worth noting that the Bari have also become major hosts of South Sudan’s capital city and so cannot escape the wrath of urbanization.

Some of the most important questions that beg for answers include; the causes of the Bari language’s extinction and how can it be rescued from any further disappearances?  

I clearly understand that each one of us identifies himself through a tribe because this is part of African’s rich means to belongingness.

Nobody applies to be born a certain tribe, but we naturally find ourselves members of certain tribes because of our biological parent’s tribal tags.

There is no denial in my mind that the actions in which some, if not most of Bari elders, more especially parents, are being indifferent, or else not, ashamed of using their own mother tongue in communicative domains historically secured for the language, and too their refusal to pass over their language to their children; are amongst reasons why the language is facing imminent extinction today.

Whether the parents’ actions were innocently confused or intentionally meant, it is a disadvantage to their children who cannot learn or speak their mother tongue.

Remember mother tongue is key to linking one generation with another for purposes of a language’s survival and continuity.

…..Continues …..

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