21 Feb 2021
The Mother Tongue Is In Tears,
The message of Andrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director General, on the occasion of World Mother tongue Day contains the following poem by the Senegalese poet Wolf,
Our mother tongue is in tears
Since her children are leaving her
“And leaving her alone with a heavy load.”
The day my 10-year-old son could get the highest math score in the school in Germany, and later the lowest grade in the German language course, I said to myself, what a repetitive and familiar story!?
Then I remembered the children of my homeland, Ahwaz, where I had repeatedly gone through a similar experience, but with the difference that those children in their homeland are considered as foreigners and immigrants, and even beyond that are judged as unidentified and landless people!
Children who are deprived of studying in their mother tongue and forced to learn Persian, and consequently to get a score of 20 in math and zero in dictation!
Children who have similar childhood as me and have been so overshadowed by such compulsion and deprivation, that now are able to get 20 in their dictation, and even their mother tongue is mixed with the Persian accent. And thus, their next generation may even won’t learn a few words of their mother tongue.
Or those rural children who have only spoken and heard in their mother tongue before entering the school, and due to speaking a few words in their mother tongue in the classroom, they will immediately get slapped, punched and kicked by their non-native teacher.
Children who in fierce battles with themselves, have tried to replace their mother tongue with the Persian language, in order to avoid being humiliated and discriminated against. Also, to gain acceptance in a society where systematically has tried to suppress their mother tongue. And consequently, get an education, find a job and in simple words “being able to live”.
And only the lucky one among those children, will have the chance to obtain a job in one of those low-level positions available in government organizations. And when an illiterate old man – of course in Iran illiteracy is summarized as inability to read and write in Persian – Come to him for office work and speak to him in the common mother tongue, He will be reprimanded by his Persian manager.
Yes, we are strangers in our own land, where we have been deprived of the most basic right, that is “Mother Tongue Education”.
And where having an accent, wearing traditional clothes, holding poetry nights and performing cultural programs in the mother tongue, etc., either will be ridiculed, insulted and humiliated, or will be dealt with by the central government.
And accordingly, the final message of the Persian-centered centralist system to the people is “Either deny your own language, culture, ethnic identity and suppress yourself, or we will suppress your identity by force”.