Keeping the Pulaar/Fulfulde language alive is an ongoing effort by a grassroots movement that has begone in the late seventies and early eighties, trough literacy programs and promotion of writing and literature in Fulfulde using the Latin alphabet. This effort is motivated by the apprehension of the fulani people that the fulfulde is facing an existential treat, especially in the urban centers where many fulani families speak the dominant language in the city of their dwelling. As a result, many young urban Fulani are growing up not knowing how to speak Fulfulde or speak the language very poorly.
Recently, one of the Nigerian Fulani Kings has joined the effort to preserve the language.
During a public presentation of Fulfulde Century Educational Books in Lagos, the former capital and the largest city in Nigeria, the Sarkin Fulani of Lagos State and chairman of the association of Fulani Chiefs of the South West, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Mohammed Bambado, lamented that the Fulfulde language is gradually going into extinction but promised to preserve the language.
“There are over 6000 languages spoken in the world today but many are at risk of becoming extinct and forgotten.” His Royal Highness, Muhammadu Bambado, reminded his audience.“It is estimated that several thousands of languages could be wiped off the map by the end of this century.” He added. While some languages that are considered endangered have become confined to a single village or even to a single speaker, Fulfulde/Pulaar language spoken by the Fulani, who are one of the largest ethnic groups in the Sahel and West Africa, is widely spread across the region to the far reaches of Central Africa and regions near the Red Sea coast. We may not have the accurate number of people that speak Fulfulde regularly as first language or official language, but we should not be surprised that Fulfulde, like many other languages, is also endangered and under real threat. This is not cheering news.” The Fulani ruler noted. “A language is at risk of being lost when it is no longer taught to younger generations, while fluent speakers of the language, usually the elderly, die. It is important to note that when a language dies, the ability to understand the culture and knowledge of the people who spoke the language is threatened. Because the teachings, customs, oral traditions and other inherited knowledge are no longer transmitted among native speakers.” Speaking on ways to preserve the fulfulde language, the Fulani leader said: “Preservation can be achieved through written books made available to younger generations, which could encourage them to learn, read and speak the language as well. These circles of learning not only keep aglow the torch of knowledge about native literature and linguistics, but also help in lighting the way into the future.”