WHY CAN’T I SPEAK MY MOTHER TONGUE?
“When you move away from home, if you’re not being exposed to the language, you can easily lose it,” Rusere said.
African languages are grouped in four distinguishable categories by shared linguistic characteristics: Afro-Asiatic, spoken in northern Africa, Nilo-Saharan, in central and eastern Africa, Niger-Congo, in central and southern Africa and Khoisan, in the western part of southern Africa. The Niger-Congo is the biggest lingustic group, encompassing more than 1,000 languages.
In Montreal, there are 2,995 people that speak a Niger-Congo language—almost a thousand more people than those who speak Hebrew. The latter, though, is far better represented in Montreal, with many schools and synagogues offering language classes.
ELA Jambo is the only language school in Quebec that teaches African languages, offering seven in total: Swahili, Wolof, Bambara, Lingala, Tshibula, Yemba and Kikongo.
The school opened in September 2012 and its mission is to promote African languages, with an eye on preserving the languages, said Guy-Serge Luboya, founder and director of ELA Jambo and Lingala professor.
“A language has to be spoken to be preserved,” he said.
Luboya founded the school after noting the number of Africans that don’t speak their mother tongue.