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Prof Thiong’o, Amina bashed for championing mother tongue education

February 7th, 2019 2 min read

Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed might be considering to implement usage of mother tongue in primary schools but Kenyans on Twitter seem to hold a different view.

Ms Amina, in a tweet highlighted on her meeting with award winning author Prof Ngugi wa Thiong’o, where she says some of the things they discussed was ways of improving the use of mother tongue language as a mode of instruction in PP1 and 2 and its teaching in Grade 1 to 3.

“At my meeting with Prof Ngugi wa Thiongo, we discussed ways of improving the use of mother language as a mode of instruction in PP1 and 2, and its teaching in Grade 1 to 3. Indeed, our mother language transmits identity, values and ethos for a better nation,” tweeted Ms Amina Mohammed.

On Tuesday, the professor of English and Comparative Literature in the United States was at Maseno University to launch Somo Ber, a book in Dholuo published by East African Educational Publishers (EAEP).


In his speech Prof Thiong’o said that people who have mastered foreign languages, but are not conversant with that of their ethnic group, are enslaved.

However, on Twitter Kenyans expressed their divergent views on the matter, with most of them terming it a bad idea.

Stanley Miheso asked, “What about those who are working in areas that are not their home town, will they be forced to use another language or leave their families in their villages?”

Muthama nick said, “Why should a renowned literature scholar stoop so low. The old Prof has been overtaken by events n stayed outside foreign land for too long. Kenya has moved on digitally on the global map. How will vernacular language assist our youngsters to develop their skills.”


Liz Amoth asked, “So in urban areas… which mother language should be used? Asking for some kid.”

Varosa Alambo commented, “In this here time and age… I doubt it’s a good idea. Parents can instruct their kids in whatever language they want. Schools however should instruct as uniformly as they possibly can. Preferably in English and/or Kiswahili.”

Pal Jeff said, “Use of mother language as proposed is possible in rural setups and has been used ever since. But how do you use the same in a city class that comprises almost all the 43 tribes Kenya found in Kenya?”

George M said, “Sometimes it’s better to be silent. We are still playing catch-up as a country, exactly how is mother/father tongue going to give our kids leverage in a global economy? Am I missing something? While at it, start this proposal with the high end schools.”