A Proposal for Developing Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba for Use at All Levels of Education and Governance
Retired Unilọrin Professor of Linguistics, former Member of the Boards of NUC and JAMB, former Ag. Vice Chancellor of Adekunle Ajaṣin University, Akungba-Akoko, former President, Yoruba Studies Association of Nigeria, current Coordinator, Yoruba Cross-Border Language Organisation (a Commission of the African Academy of Languages, which is itself a Commission of the African Union)
Salisu A Yaakasai
Professor of Sociolinguistics, Department of Nigerian Languages,Faculty of Arts and Islamic Studies, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Sokoto State
Mba Boniface &Iwu Ikwubuzo
Professor of Linguistics, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State & Professor of Igbo Literature, University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos State
Professor of Sociolinguistics, Department of Linguistics and African Languages, University of Ibadan, Ọyọ State
Here is a simple question that our academic colleagues do not usually ask themselves: how can my training be of practical benefit to this country other than by teaching it, as I have been doing, to students who will in turn teach it to their own students who in their own turn will also teach it to their own students, and so on in succession until kingdom come? Indirectly provoking the question are the following two recent posts on WhatsApp. Except for formatting, they are reproduced below just as they were received.
This is Nigeria’s Greatest Problem
Thirteen boeing 747 cargo planes come to Nigeria daily. Offloading cargo then fly back empty. Sometimes they have to use sandbags to stabilize the aircraft—
Five out of every six ships that berths in Nigeria return to their base empty. The only one which leaves with cargo is filled with Charcoal, Gypsum Salt and Sesame Seeds.
180 million people eating, sleeping and contributing nothing to the world. All we do is drill oil, sell it, bank the money and share the proceeds!
Even the oil is drilled by foreign companies. We do nothing other than share the sale proceeds.
Let’s bow our heads and think. Think and think.
THE TRIPLE HERITAGE OF CULTURE, RELIGION & TECHNOLOGY.
Ali Mazrui called it the "The Tripple Heritage" ; the tragedy that is the undoing of our Country Nigeria. :-
EVERY NIGERIAN THAT LOVES NIGERIA OUGHT TO READ THIS.
The biggest country in Africa that the United Kingdom colonized is Nigeria.
The biggest country that the United Kingdom colonized in Asia is India (which then comprised the present Pakistan and Bangladesh).
When the UK came into Nigeria and India, like all other countries they colonized, they brought along their technology, religion (Christianity), and culture: names, dressing, food, language, etc.
Try as hard as the British did, India rejected the British religion, names, dressing, food, and even language, but they did not reject the British technology.
Today, 80.5% of Indians are Hindus; 13.4% Muslims; 2.3% Christians; 1.9% Sikhs; 0.8% Buddhists, etc.
Hindi is the official language of the government of India, but English is used extensively in business and administration and has the status of a “subsidiary official language.”
It is rare to find an Indian with an English name or dressed On the other hand, Nigeria embraced, to a large extent, the British religion, British culture – names, dressing, foods, and language – but rejected the British technology.
The difference between the Nigerian and the Indian experiences is that while India is proud of its heritage, Nigeria takes little pride in its heritage, a situation that has affected the nationalism of Nigerians and our development as a nation.
Before the advent of Christianity, the Arabs had brought Islam into Nigeria through the North.
Islam also wiped away much of the culture of Northern Nigeria.
Today, the North has only Sharia Courts but no Customary Courts.
So from the North to the South of Nigeria, the Western World and the Eastern
World have shaped our lives to be like theirs and we have lost much or all of our identity.
Long after the British and Arabs left Nigeria, Nigeria has waxed strong in religion to the extent that Nigerians now set up religious branches of their homegrown churches in Europe, the Americas, Asia and other African countries.
Just like the Whites brought the gospel to us, Nigerians now take the gospel back to the Whites.
In Islam, we are also very vibrant to the extent that if there is a blasphemous comment against Islam in Denmark or the US, even if there is no violent reaction in Saudi Arabia, the Islamic headquarters of the world, there will be loss of lives and destruction of property in Nigeria.
If the United Arab Emirates, a country with 75% Muslims, is erecting the tallest building in the world and encouraging the world to come and invest in its country by providing a friendly environment, Boko Haram ensures that the economy of the North (and by extension that of Nigeria) is crippled with bombs and bullets unless every Nigerian converts to Boko Haram’s brand of Islam.
In the East we have IPOB.
While in the South - South region, Mend, Avengers and so on destroying the Heart of our Nations Economy.
We are indeed a very religious people.
Meanwhile, while we are building the biggest churches and mosques, the Indians, South Africans, Chinese, Europeans and Americans have taken over our key markets: telecoms, satellite TV, multinationals, banking, oil and gas, automobile, aviation, shopping malls, hospitality, etc.
Ironically, despite our exploits in religion, we are a people with little godliness, a people without scruples.
It is rare to do business with a Nigerian pastor, deacon, knight, elder, brother, sister, imam, mullah, mallam, alhaji or alhaja without the person laying landmines of bribes and deception on your path.
We call it PR, facilitation fee, processing fee, transport money, financial engineering, deal, or whatever.
But if it does not change hands, nothing gets done.
And when it is amassed, we say it is “God’s blessings.”
Some people assume that sleaze is a problem of public functionaries, but the private sector seems to be worse than the public sector these days.
One would have assumed that the more churches and mosques that spring up in every nook and cranny of Nigeria, the higher the
morals in our society.
But it is not so.
The situation is that the more religious we get, more ungodly we become.
Our land never knew the type of bloodshed experienced from religious extremists, political desperadoes, ritual killers, armed robbers, kidnappers, internet scammers, university cultists, and lynch mobs.
Life has become so cheap and brutish that everyday seems to be a bonanza.
We import the petroleum that we have in abundance, rice and beans that our land can produce in abundance, and even toothpicks that primary school children can produce with little or no effort.
Yet we drive the best of cars and live in the best of edifices, visit the best places in the world for holidays and use the most expensive electronic and telecoms gadgets.
It is now a sign of poverty for a Nigerian to ride a saloon car. Four-wheel drive is it!
Even government officials, who were known to use only Peugeot cars as official cars as a sign of modesty, have upgraded to Toyota Prado, without any iota of shame, in a country
where about 70 per cent live below poverty.
Private jets have become a common toy for many citizens who have no known business.
A nation that imports toothpicks and pins, flaunts wealth and wallows in ostentation at a time its children are trooping to Ghana, South Africa and the UK for university education
and its sick people are running to India for treatment.
India produces automobile and exports it to the world. India’s medical care is second to none, with even Americans and Europeanstravelling to the country for medical treatment.
India has joined the nuclear powers. India has launched a successful mission to the moon.
Yet bicycles and tricycles are common sights in India. But in Nigeria, only the wretched of the earth ride bicycles.
I have intentionally chosen to compare Nigeria with India rather than China, South Korea, Brazil, Malaysia, or Singapore, because of the similarities between India and Nigeria. But these countries were not as promising as Nigeria at the time of our independence.
Some would say that our undoing is our size: the 2012 United Nations estimate puts Nigeria’s population at 166 million, while India has a population of about a billion.
Some would blame it on the multiplicity of ethnic groups: we have 250 ethnic groups; India has more than 2000 ethnic groups.
Some would hang it on the diversity in religion: we have two major religions – Christianity and Islam; but India has many.
Some would say it is because we are young as an independent nation: we have 58 years of independence; India has 66 years, while apartheid ended in South Africa only in 1994.
We need more godliness than religion; more work and less hope; and more action and less words.
Let everyone tidy up his or her corner first and demand fervently that our leaders tidy their areas of governance. Our nation is degenerating at a fast pace and we need to save it now.
We as a people must positively change our attitude towards our dear country!
We sense that these two posts were written out of patriotic concern for this country of ours. As adults we know or believe all the observations contained in them to be true, and we feel deeply distressed and thoroughly shamed by such uncomfortable truths about the country. Accordingly, we for our part have jointly decided on a remedial course of action that is within the scope of our training and expertise as linguists – specialists in the workings of human language. The action we propose is contained in the two related proposals submitted below for your kind consideration.
1. Involve Universities in Physical and Technological Developments in the Country
Since independence or even before it, the sole criterion for determining appointability and success in Nigerian universities has been “contribution to scholarship.” As a result of that, most lecturers in those universities hardly ever see their duty, for which they get paid, as anything beyond contributing to scholarship and helping mostly to produce teaching, administrative, and servicepersonnelfor the country. But universities in the Western world do more than that, as a result of which their societies are far better developed than ours here in Nigeria. Notwithstanding the long existence of our universities, our country continues to typify desperate and abject wretchedness – the “shithole” syndrome, as Donald Trump indelicately put it.
To prevent things from continuing like this, we hereby suggest to you, and through you to the National Universities Commission and the Government in general, that university lecturers shouldfrom now be required, where applicable or appropriate, to pursue and exploit for commercial or practical purposes such of their research findings as permit or allow for that. By this we mean, simply, that our lecturers should, where applicable or suitable, use their individual research for innovation; that is, for creating or suggesting new things that appreciablyimprove the qualityof life here in Nigeria and far beyond.
Furthermore, Government at all levels should from time to time assign to specific universities current or envisaged physical, educational, agricultural, or social problems, for which they would be required to find practical and workable solutions for the benefit of us all.
Finally, the existing hardly noticeable Patent Office should be empowered to liaise more closely and more vigorously with universities and research institutions, with a view to getting their innovations patented and subsequently brought prominently to the attention of entrepreneurs and industrialists. In the US there exists an organisation or enterprise called ‘Inventhelp’. It advertises itself as available to help inventors patent their innovations and also put them in touch with interested industrialists. A roughly similar proactive role is what we advocate here for the existing Nigerian Patent Office.
2. Develop Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba for Full Use within Their Native Communities
As linguists, we are not by training ordinarily empowered to design new bridges or create new household gadgets or utensils for daily use. What we are trained todo,however, and can do very well by way of practicalising or exploiting our research findings,is to develop and revitalise languages for more robust use in society. Accordingly and in line with the spirit of the two posts quoted above and also in direct response to them, we have taken it upon ourselves to submit for your kind consideration and approval the terminology creation proposal that follows, for the country’s three major languages. We intend our proposal for those three languages as a pilot project which,if given the necessary support and successfully carried out, wouldshow the way for some of the other languages in the country whose speakers might wish them to be similarly developed for greater use within their respective native communities.
We are aware of a number of earlier proposals or pronouncements that either touch upon or have implications for the development of those three languages. The first such proposal took the form of the Ifẹ Six-Year Yoruba Primary Project undertaken from 1970 to 1975 by the late Prof Babs Fafunwa and some of his colleagues at the Ọbafẹmi Awolọwọ University, Ile-Ifẹ. The project, an experimental one, was designed to demonstrate to the nation that Yoruba and by implication all other Nigerian languages could be developed and easily used for teaching all Primary School subjects. As the Yoruba Studies Association of Nigeria’s experiment (to be discussed below) later showed, however, its bottom-up approach to the issue would seem in part to have greatly militated against it (Awobuluyi 2014b).
The next important development for the formal or official use of Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba took the form of the following pronouncement with which the Supreme Military Council, the apex organ of the then Federal Government ofNigeria, in 1978 permanently amended the country’s Constitution.
At this point of our development as a nation, it is unacceptable to make English the only language of business of our National Assembly and to proceed even further to enshrine it permanently in our Constitution. Section 51 of the Constitution has therefore been amended to ensure that Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba shall be additional languages of business in the National Assembly and shall be so when appropriate arrangements can be made for their use (as quoted in Awobuluyi 1979:12).
This very thoughtful, patriotic, and authoritative pronouncement is, so far, the only one of its kind ever to be made on the language situation in the country by any of its leaders whether elected or selected. Beyond what the statement explicitly said, it constituted an implicit formulation of an official language policy for the country, namely, a policy prescribing Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba for official business in the National Assembly as well as in the respective native communities of those languages, and English for inter-ethnic communication and communication with foreign entities within and outside the country. The pronouncement most probably fore-shadowed or even directly inspired the then Organisation of African Unity’s Lagos Plan of Action 1980, which later inspired its Language Plan of Action for Africa 1986as well as the African Union’s Language Plan of Action for Africa 2006. The Nigerian Government is a prominent if not leading signatory to all of these protocols, which require each African country to develop some of its major indigenous languages for official use at all levels paripassu with its inherited colonial language(s). Doing so, in the view of the then OAU or now the AU, would enable more inclusive participation of citizens in the affairs of their individual nations.
Because the above pronouncement does not talk of the use of the three indigenous languages concerned other than in the National Assembly, it seems to conceive of an official language falsely as one having only one single use, namely, for discussing and formulating legislation. In fact, however, an official language by nature always has several other uses such as in education, administration, commerce and industry, entertainment, enlightenment, etc.
The only attempt,that we know, to give practical effect to the above pronouncement, together with the defect in its conception or formulation just pointed out, took the form of a terminology creation exercise undertaken specifically for Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba during the Shehu Shagari Administration. Around 1980 funds were officially allocated and people based in various universities were commissioned to create indigenous legislative terms for those languages. The terms were subsequently assembled and published in 1991 as A Quadrilingual Glossary of Legislative Terms. The naïve thinking then was that,by merely publishing those new terms, the affected members of the National Assembly would thereby become automatically empowered to hold forth in those three languages in the course of legislative business.
That did not happen, however, and it still has not happened. One simple reason for that, among others, is that the glossary exercise rested snugly on a fallacy, namely, that people normally learn new terms or words in total isolation;in other words, as they appear in glossaries. In fact, however, people usually resort to glossaries or dictionaries only when they are unable on their own to figure out the correct meanings of words within their proper contexts. From this, it is clear thatthey normally firstencounter and learn new words or terms in context -- specifically in spoken or written context. Such contexts tell them (1) the correct spelling or pronunciation of new terms or words, (2) the terms’ or words’ part of speech – that is, whether they are nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and what not, and (3) the other existing words or terms which normally or habitually precede or follow those new terms or words in proper usage. We call this third property of words ‘collocation’ in Linguistics. And crucial, nay critical, as the above three properties of words or terms are for learning how to correctly use new words or terms, glossaries never can provide them all – because they are actually never designed to do so. Only extended spoken or written texts, as in oral discussions or books, can do so. The Yoruba Studies Association of Nigeria’s experiment very amply testifies to that, as will be seen shortly.
That same experiment also testifies to yet another important factorhighlighted bya shortcoming of the next exercise designed to promote the use of the above three languages in education. Apparently concerned by the poor performance of pupils in Science, the Minister of Science and Technology was said to have announced in the first quarter of 2017 that, from then onward, all teaching particularly of Science subjects in Primary Schools would have to be done in the indigenous medium of Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, etc. Some people were said to have vociferously opposed the idea – in our view, for purely subjective and sentimental reasons. What such people could and should have noted with justification is that that particular announcement in effect put the cart before the horse, so to speak. This is because there was no indication prior to the announcement that the needed indigenous-medium textbooks had been written and published; neither had the teachers that would use such textbooks been trained or retrained for that purpose. Not surprisingly, nothing more has been heard about the proposal since then.In other words, it seems to have died an otherwise foreseeable natural death.
The Yoruba Studies Association of Nigeria’s experiment took care to avoid the pitfalls of the preceding two efforts or exercises. From the early 1970s to the late 1980s, the Association (of university teachers) organised occasional terminology creation workshops and also religiously held annual conferences at which at least one session was devoted solely to terminology creation. The indigenous terms created at the workshops and conference sessions were for the two disciplines of Linguistics and Yoruba Literature. And participants were enjoined to each go back to their respective stations and immediately start using the new indigenous terms approved at those workshops and conferences for teaching the two specified disciplines solely in the Yoruba medium (Awobuluyi 2014b). To assist them in that effort, the Association expeditiously arranged to publish the following two glossaries:
Awobuluyi, Ọladele. 1990. Yoruba Metalanguage II (Èdè Ìperí Yorùbá II).
Bamgboṣe, Ayọ. 1992 (first published in 1984). Yoruba Metalanguage I (Èdè Ìperí Yorùbá I)
Teaching the two disciplines concerned solely in the Yoruba medium necessitated the writing of Yoruba-medium textbooks for teaching and studying the disciplines at all levels. Of the many such textbooks already written and published, only some of the major ones need be mentioned in the present context, as follows:
Owolabi, Kọlawọle. 1989. Ìjìnlẹ̀ Ìtúpalẹ̀ Èdè Yorùbá: Fònẹ́tíìkì àti Fonọ́lọ́jì (In-depth Analysis of Yoruba: Phonetics and Phonology)
Bamgboṣe, Ayọ. 1990. Gírámà àti Fonọ́lọ́jì Yorùbá (Yoruba Grammar and Phonology)
Adeyẹmi, Lere. 2006. Tíọ́rì Lítíréṣọ̀ ní Èdè Yorùbá (Literary Theory in Yoruba)
Awobuluyi, Ọladele. 2008. Ẹ̀kọ́ Ìṣẹ̀dá-Ọ̀rọ̀ Yorùbá (Studies in Yoruba Morphology)
Awobuluyi, Ọladele. 2013. Ẹ̀kọ́ Gírámà Èdè Yorùbá. (Studies in Yoruba Syntax)
The Yoruba Studies Association of Nigeria decided at its inaugural conference in 1970 to start publishing an academic journal called Yorùbá: Journal of the Yoruba Studies Association of Nigeria. Till today, every issue of the journal features at least one or two scholarly papers written entirely in the Yoruba medium.
Teachers of Yoruba at the primary and secondary school levels, like Yoruba scholars in universities, in time also formed their own associations, each of which till today publishes a journal of its own on Yoruba language and literature.
As a result of the teaching and writing efforts of the members of the three existing Yoruba language and literature organisations, most pupils, students, and teachers have today all acquired considerable facility and confidence in communicating in Yoruba that is not at all commingled with English.
Our assessment of the Yoruba Studies Association of Nigeria’s experiment is that it has been a great success, though its scope is quite understandably limited to two main disciplines only. For us the permanent takeaway from it is that it is just not enough to merely create or somehow procure an assemblage of new indigenous terms, as in the case of AQuadrilingual Glossary of Legislative Terms. There must also be teachers, preferably teachers trained for that purpose, who will dutifully and competently use those terms in oral delivery to pupils and students in instructional or educational settings. There must also be appropriate textbooks and workbooks copiously featuring such terms, for teachers, pupils, and students to use for teaching and learning, respectively. Neither of these, as far as we can tell, was available for the project mooted by the Minister of Science and Technology.
The Yoruba Studies Association of Nigeria’s experiment was not an overnight success, however. Far from it;as indicated earlier, it took close to two decades to achieve it. And if it took that much time to work on only two disciplines, imagine how much more time it would taketo work onthe estimated 30 to 40 distinct disciplines currently taught in our universities,going at that Association’s pace of one or two disciplines at a time. Centuries, most likely! And that would be much too long!
The Specifics of Our New Proposal
For that reason, our new proposal is that terminology creation should be undertakensimultaneously for all the estimated 30 to 40 disciplines housed within a specific university located in the respective native communities of Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba. (Exempted from this exercise will be Arabic, English, and French, which we assume will be taught, each in its own native medium particularly at higher levels.) The proposal would best be carried out in stages as follows.
Phase I: Terminology Creation Training Workshops(3 months)
Only native speakers of the language proposed to be developed will be eligible to participate in the needed terminology creation exercise. And as the vast majority of native speakers are not trained linguists, there will be need for a linguist or group of linguists specialising in the language concerned to come in to train would-be native speaker participants in the various ways of creating new words and technical terms in their native language. The training for such native speaker participants, in Faculty or College groups, should take no longer than three months at the most.
The lead author already has, for Yoruba, a list of Yoruba-medium and English-medium works describing how new words and technical terms are usually created in that language. He also has a list of reference works that people creating new terms in the language would be well advised to keep near them for consultation as they work on their assignment. In addition, he has a handout that was originally prepared specifically for Yoruba-speaking participants. Copies of the handout would gladly be made available for the Hausa and Igbo teams (as well as for other language teams in the future) to adapt for their own purposes.
Phase II: Creation of New Indigenous Technical Terms (2 years)
We estimate on the basis of the Yoruba Studies Association of Nigeria’s experience that 3000 new indigenous terms would initially be sufficient for teaching each subject concerned from the Primary School level to the doctorate level, as well as for writing all the textbooks and workbooks needed at all those levels. We know from linguistic experience that once any language starts being actively used for the above two purposes, additional needed words or technical terms would spring up in it (as we can see today in the case of Modern English) through a process of induced or spontaneous word creation, which exists in every human language. For this reason, we feel comfortable with 3000 newly created indigenous technical terms to start with.
For the purposes of creating the proposed 3000 new indigenous technical terms, a select group of around five willing and capable practitioners of a particular discipline in a Department would need to come together under a leader of their own choosing. The group would begin its work by first drawing up a list of 3000 English terms that they regularly use when writing on their discipline as well as when teaching it. Following that and drawing heavily on their native knowledge of the language concerned, they would begin to create indigenous terms that match the corresponding English terms perfectly in meaning. Faster progress is likely to be made if each member of a terminology group works from home on the English terms assigned specifically to him or her, and then brings his or her proposed new indigenous terms back to the Department or agreed place of meeting for the other members of the terminology group to carefully weigh and assess for correctness and acceptability. Only new technical terms that have been considered and vetted in this manner by the group concerned would be deemed to have been approved by that group.And only terms duly approved by the group concerned would be acceptable for further processing.
The new terms duly approved at each group meeting should as soon as possible be manually recorded in a big undergraduate note book. They should at the same time also be entered,in two double columns, into a laptop or desktop. The first double column might contain English technical terms in the first column, followed directly in the second column by their respective approved new indigenous terms. If this be the case, the second double column would have approved new indigenous terms in the first column, each followed directly in the second column by their respective English equivalents or counterparts. Entering the various terms in this way would enable eventual generation or production of English – Indigenous language glossaries as well as Indigenous language – English glossaries. Such glossaries containing approved new indigenous terms and their English equivalents would form or constitute input into the very next phase of the project.
Phase III: Standardisation and Harmonisation of Terms (1 year)
In order to ensure still wider acceptability for the newly created indigenous terms turned in by each subject-specific terminology creation group, such terms are preferably to be further vetted, standardised, and harmonised by indigenous linguists, indigenous language authors and publishers, together with subject experts preferably drawn from other universities located within the native community of the language concerned. These experts should all work in mixed groups rather than in separate and select groups. Their work is expected to result in two separate glossaries for each subject or discipline. One glossary would feature English – Indigenous terms, while the other features Indigenous – English terms. The two glossaries are preferably to be printed separately rather than together, for ease of handling at the next phase.
Phase IV: Textbook/Workbook Writing (3 years)
People known to be skilled in writing on each discipline, whether based in the affected university or not, would be identified and commissioned to write, as appropriate, indigenous-medium Primary, Secondary, and tertiary undergraduate and postgraduate textbooks and workbooks on that discipline, using the glossaries already approved and produced for that purpose in Phase III. The translation of foreign textbooks is also a possibility that is to be carefully considered if the necessary permission can be quickly and cheaply obtained.
Phase V: Textbook/Workbook Printing (1 year)
The university concerned, i.e. the university awarded the grant for this project (see below), would arrange to publish some 2000 to 3000 initial copies of the textbooks/workbooks produced under Phase IV above, for use in Phase VI.
Phase VI: Teacher Training for Indigenous-Medium Teaching (1 year)
Under this phase, the university concerned would organise both internal and external workshops for training/retraining the requisite cadres of teachers and lecturers for teaching each discipline in the indigenous medium of their respective Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba communities.
Phase VII: Implementation (1 day)
With all the preceding phases successfully accomplished, all that would be left would be for the Federal Government to proclaim the relevant languages, i.e. Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba, ready and approved for full use as medium of instruction in their respective native communities. The natural use of the three languages for communication in other spheres of activity would spread and increase as pupils and students graduate yearly from the educational institutions in their respective native communities, as envisaged in (Awobuluyi 2014b).
Estimated Cost of the Project per Language
We estimate the cost of the project for forty disciplines per language as follows:
Terminology Creation Training Workshop N1,000,000.00
Terminology Creation plus Glossaries for 40 disciplines N100,000,000.00
Final Standardisation and Harmonisation of Terms N8,000,000.00
Textbook/Workbook Writing N80,000,000.00
Textbook/Workbook Printing N80,000,000.00
Teacher Training/Retraining N20,000,000.00
Total Estimated Cost per Language N310,000,000.00
Total Estimated Cost for Three Languages N930,000,000.00
The beneficiary university, one per language community, is the one to which we suggest that the sum of N310,000,000.00 be given as grant for funding and carrying out all the activities listed above for each language.
That university, rather than ourselves, is to be held fully accountable for the sum given to it as grant for carrying out the assignment given or contracted to it.
The disappointment and embarrassment that the lead author experienced in trying earlier (Awobuluyi 2018) to urge precisely this kind of project on the University of Ilọrin, Ilọrin, Kwara State, showthat some of our universities regrettably have not yet sufficiently rid themselves of colonial mentality to be readily able to see and appreciate any need for the terminology creation project we propose here. Consequently,not just any one of them can confidently be expected to readily embrace our proposal and actually carry it out as suggested above. For that reason, we found ourselves having to do much agonising and soul-searching in addition to making discreet inquiries before settling for the following three universities,each of them for the reasons given directly below it.
Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Sokoto State
(Reasons not made available to the lead author)
University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State
(Reasons not made available to the lead author)
University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Ọyọ State
This university is located in the Yoruba heartland.To its credit,it has along and well-known tradition of work on indigenous terminology for the Yoruba language. In the early 1980s, Professor Ayọ Bamgboṣe as the then head of the Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages teamed up with the late Professor Adeboye Babalọla of the Department of African Languages and Literatures, University of Lagos, Akọka, Lagos, to initiate the creation of indigenous terms for Linguistics and Yoruba Literature. That tradition of work on Yoruba terminology continues till today at the University of Ibadan,with Professor Durotoye Adelekeas the current Head of the Department of Linguistics and African Languages (as it is now called) as well as the current President of the Yoruba Studies Association of Nigeria.
The Department of Surgery in the University is also well known for ongoing work on indigenous medical terms for Yoruba. Specifically, Adelọla Adeloye, a retired Professor of Surgery there, on his own teamed up with a Yoruba literary scholar to translate Neuroscience by Richard and Fillenz Morris into Yoruba in 2011 as Ẹ̀kọ́ nípa Iṣẹ́ Ọpọlọ: Ìwé Ìbẹ̀rẹ̀ Ẹ̀kọ́ fún Ọmọ Ilé-Ìwé àti Ọ̀dọ́. Other staff still serving in that same Department are also known to be currently compiling indigenous Yoruba terms for human and animal anatomy.
Outside of the University of Ibadan but within Ibadan Township, there are at least two organisations whose work is mostly on the Yoruba language. One of them, called Centre for Yoruba Language Engineering and headed by a retired Professor of Linguistics in the person Kọlawọle Owolabi, has for many years off and on been engaged in creating indigenous scientific terms for the language. The other organisation, African Languages Technology Initiatives, headed by Dr Tunde Adegbọla, an Engineer andComputational Linguist, pursues the use of Human Language Technology (HLT) for creating different electronic linguistic tools like Spell Checkers and Morpheme Analyzers for Yoruba, Hausa, and other African languages.
These two gentlemen together with Ayọ Bamgboṣe and Ayọ Banjọ, both of them Yoruba-speaking linguists and Professors Emeritus in the university, are very likely to be able to assist the university with the project if requested to do so. The four of them together possess more seasoned wisdom and more tested practical experience in the matter of terminology creation than the rest of us linguists in the countrycombined. With continued good health, they can be relied upon to assist and ensure that the University makes full success of its assignment.
We hope that this proposal will be considered with sympathy and understanding, not for our sakes, but for the sake of our dear country.
First, as we said earlier, we conceive of the proposal as a pilot project. If it is successful as we expect it to be, it would thereby show the way for some of the other languages in the country whose speakers might wish them to be similarly developed for greater use within their respective native communities.
Second, like the Supreme Military Council in 1978, we feel that it is both shameful and unacceptable that, more than fifty years after independence, English is still our only official language, when international norms and practice require that we have indigenous official languages, with English only serving, as necessary, for inter-ethnic communication as well as for communication with foreign entities. Approving our proposal for faithful implementation would eliminate the country’s current anomalous situation and consequently place it in good standing within the comity of nations.
Third, if the project is funded and successfully implemented, the N310,000,000.00 (three hundred and ten million naira) expended on it for each language would be money very wisely spent, considering the universally recognised benefits of mother-tongue education that would thereby be made easily and naturally available to generations yet unborn in the nation.
Fourth, with the project successfully carried out and implemented, it would eventually be feasible for Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba to function pari passu with English as languages of business in the National Assembly, as provided for in the country’s Constitution.
Fifth, as indicated in (Awobuluyi 2013a), a long, vigorous, and very deeply rooted tradition of teaching, reading, and writing is the only bulwark that any indigenous language ever has against the onslaught of colonial languages, as seen in East Asia and North Africa. The next colonial invasion of Nigeria would seem to be imminent. Most of our current compatriots, as during the era of the slave trade as well as during the time of British colonisation, cannot sense it. But it is there nonetheless (Awobuluyi 2013b). Thus, recall that a Governor of Lagos State said only a few years ago that Chinese should be taught by trained teachers in that state’s schools, while Yoruba, the state’s native language, should be taught in the home only, by untrained parents! Meanwhile, Nigerian universities are falling over each other in their blind and mad rush to establish Chinese ‘cultural institutes,’ while the Government of the day for its part gets us more and more indebted to the Chinese by the day. If we develop our three major languages and succeed in using them in the way advocated above, that would enable them to survive the next round of colonisation virtually unscathed, just as Hindi survived British colonisation in India.
Sixth and finally, if the project succeeds, as it should, Nigeria would,as fully befits her status, blaze a trail for the other countries of Black Africa in getting universities to considerably speed up the development of their deserving indigenous languages, as enjoined on each ofthem in African Union’s Language Plan of Action for Africa 2006.
Awobuluyi, Ọladele. 1979.The New National Policy on Education in Linguistic Perspective. (The Ilorin Lectures, No. 1). Delivered at the University of Ilorin, 15 February 1979.
Awobuluyi, Ọladele. 2013a. ‘Official Language Policies in Africa,’ in Ọlanikẹ Ọla Orie and Karen W Sanders (eds). 2013. Selected Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Conference on African Linguistics: Linguistic Interfaces in African Languages. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceeding Project, pp. 68-76.
Awobuluyi, Ọladele. 2013b. ‘Why We Must Develop Nigerian Languages,’ in Ndimele, O M, Yuka, L C, and J F Ilọri (eds). Issues in Contemporary African Linguistics: A Festschrift for Ọladele Awobuluyi. Port Harcourt: The Linguistic Association of Nigeria, pp. 347-61.
Awobuluyi, Ọladele. 2014a. Yoruba Must Not Die Out/Yorùbá Kò Gbọdọ̀ Kú. Faculty Lecture. Faculty of Arts, Ọbafẹmi Awolọwọ University, Ile-Ifẹ, 6 February 2014.
Awobuluyi, Ọladele. 2014b. 'Empowering African Languages: The Yoruba Experience,’ read at the Linguistics and African Languages International Conference, Kwara State University, Malete, Kwara State, 20-22 March 2014. (To appear in Ifẹ Journal of Languages and Literatures in 2019.)
Awobuluyi, Ọladele. 2018. ‘Towards Unilọrin’s Legacy for Posterity,’ Yoruba Terminology Creation Proposal, made to the University of Ilorin, 2 January 2018.