The Love Central - How to Celebrate International Mother Language Day as an African in the US
International Mother Language Day

How to Celebrate International Mother Language Day as an African in the US

International Mother Language Day is a worldwide annual celebration held on February 21st to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and to promote multilingualism.
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International Mother Language Day is a worldwide annual celebration held on February 21st to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and to promote multilingualism. It was first announced by UNESCO on November 17, 1999, and has been formally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly since 2002. 

There are over 6,000 languages spoken in the world, but many of them are endangered. A study by the National African Language Resource Center found that only 13% of children born in the US to African immigrants speak their parents’ native language fluently.

As an African living in the US, this day presents an opportunity to celebrate your linguistic heritage and cultural identity within a multicultural context. It is a strong reminder to celebrate your roots, reconnect with your roots, educate others, and advocate for a more inclusive future.

To ensure you have a memorable celebration, we’ve curated insightful ideas for you to explore.

1. Reconnect with your heritage

The most personal way to celebrate is by actively engaging with your mother tongue. If you’re already multilingual, dedicate time to practice and improve your fluency. 

Look for books, poems, or articles written in your native language. You can find them online, in libraries, or through African bookstores in the US.

Journal, write a poem or even pen a short story in your native language to reconnect with your linguistic heritage and express yourself creatively. Listen to music and watch movies from your home country or in your native language.

If you haven’t learned it yet, consider online resources, local language instructors, or even seeking out fellow speakers within your community.

2. Share your culture

Organize a language exchange event to connect with other African communities. Prepare a traditional dish from your home country and share it with friends as a way of promoting your culture.

Share childhood stories or traditional proverbs that showcase the cultural wisdom embedded in your tongue. This exchange propagates understanding and appreciation across diverse African dialects.

3. Educate and advocate

Host a discussion on the importance of multilingualism, highlighting the cognitive benefits, cultural preservation, and unique perspectives gained through diverse languages.

Participate in online events by organizations like UNESCO to learn from global initiatives and experts. Share stories about the struggles and triumphs of the mother language and be active in raising awareness about the challenges faced by minority languages globally.

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4. Celebrate through action

Support organizations like the National African Language Resource Center and the African Studies Association, both working to preserve and promote African languages in the US.

Mentor young people embarking on their language learning journey to become a beacon of guidance and cultural connection. 

Advocate for policies that support multilingual education in schools and communities to ensure future generations thrive in a linguistically diverse environment.

It is important to note that every effort geared toward the preservation of your mother language counts, no matter how big or small. Share your story on social media using #MotherLanguageDay and #AfricanLanguagest.

Conclusion: A Celebration with Impact

Celebrating International Mother Language Day as an African in the US is a multifaceted experience. It’s a personal journey of rediscovering one’s linguistic roots and a call to action for advocacy.

By actively engaging with your mother tongue, sharing your culture, and advocating for multilingualism, you contribute to preserving linguistic diversity, enriching your community, and shaping a more inclusive future.

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