Wednesday 27 July 2022


QUESTION: What is a numeral system, and what is it supposed to do?

ANSWER: A numeral system is a TOOL that enables us to express numbers. Numbers, of course, are of vital importance the propagation of knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and  and mathematics (STEM). As a TOOL, the objective therefore is to learn to use it PROPERLY AND ADEQUATELY so we can go and perform the task at hand. It is not the task to be performed.

When a young boy is preparing to accompany his father to the farm, he may be given a cutlass with which to clear the bush for planting. The cutlass is of course a TOOL but the objective is to clear the bush for planting. Once he learns to use the cutlass, he then proceeds to fulfil the objective. Yorubas call a child who spends most of his time examining the cutlass: ALAINIIKANSE. 

For us Yorubas, our numeral system must allow us to perform the function of learning science, technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) IN A TIMELY fashion, which is our objective. Otherwise, we become the aforementioned ALAINIIKNASE.

These therefore are the attributes of a numeral system that will give our children the capability of using OUR LANGUAGE TO LEARN STEM:

1. A number must be called as it is written and written as it isa called. A child that sees 108 in a number must be able to call out those numerals as it is written. When an English child see the number 108, he sees numerals 1,0, and 8 in the number and calls it as such. He calls it ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT

When a Yoruba boy see the number 108, he must also see the numerals 1, 0 and 8 and not EJI DIN NI AADOFA– 2 less than 10 less than 20 times 6. A small child learning how to use the number system cannot process numbers this way for it puts the cart before the horse.

2. It must be capable of handling numbers with as many numerals as required. Not even a Yoruba science professor can call the number1,108,108. An English boy will call out this number, and even larger numbers with no difficulty. Our number system must be able to call out numbers into the billions and trillions.

3. It must be able to do this in a timely fashion compared to other number systems. An English boy will call out the number above, 1108108 in a twinkle of an eye. It will take even an ardent Yoruba expert some minutes to figure out what to call this number.

4. It must be capable of being taught to a primary one schoolchild old in its entirety. This is in conformity with the explanation above (3).

5. Learning it must not become a chore in itself. The numeral system IS ONLY A TOOL. It must be learnt as quickly as possible so the schoolboy can use it to learn STEM.

6. It must be capable of being easily manipulated. Now, imagine someone asking you to divide 108 with 104 in Yoruba language!! Laughable.

7. Finally, it must be competitive with other numeral systems, particularly English. This point is of SUPREME IMPORTANCE. This is one of two most important reasons we are losing our language to English. If our number system cannot compete with the English system, our science, commerce, culture, education, history, etc. will only be communicated in English.

And in Fela’s inimitable parlance, This is the main definition for COLO-MENTALITY.

Again, to learn more about the Yoruba DECIMAL system of counting, GO TO:òòkà-ati-òòkà-kika-numbers-and-counti

Association of Educators of Science and Technology in Yorùbá Language

1 comment:

  1. Very Nice Information and Article keep on sharing such content.


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