Posts Tagged ‘LANGUAGES’


March 3, 2011

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Wednesday April 2, 2003

Microsoft to Deliver Windows, Office in Major Nigerian Languages

Microsoft has announced that it will deliver Language Interface Packs that will soon make Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office packages more locally-relevant and easier to understand for Nigerian end users in commemoration of the International Mother Language Day in Nigeria.

The disclosure was made when Jummai Umar-Ajijola, citizenship manager for Microsoft Nigeria led a team of Microsoft partners to make a presentation to the Chairman, Education Committee, House of Representatives, and Honourable Faruk Lawan in Abuja. The visit which also included a visit to the Federal Ministry of Education was part of the activities to mark the Mother Language Day, where the team was received by Alhaji Bello Ozigis, Permanent Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education on behalf of Hajiya Aisha Dukku Minister of State for Education.

Microsoft is working closely with the Linguistic Association of Nigeria and other advocates to complete work on the Language Interface Packs for the Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba languages, which will be compatible with Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Office Word.

Hajiya Aisha, Honourable Minister of State for Education, is currently one of the championing forces behind the language program and presented the Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba glossaries to stakeholders in Abuja last December.

According to Dr. Tunde Adegbola of Alt-i, who is the moderator of the localisation process in Nigeria, the Windows Interface Packs are on track to be released this May, and the Office Interface Packs are scheduled for release later in October.

Honourable Lawan while speaking at the day’s festivities on behalf of the Honourable Speaker, House of Representatives, commended Microsoft for the continued efforts to grow a strong local IT industry and ensure that every citizen has fair and meaningful access to locally-relevant technology.

“Functional education and specialized training are the pre-requisites for a productive workforce, and good leaders. It is the only way to create a populace that is successful in all spheres of human life. All these cannot be achieved without understanding. This is the critical role that language plays. We are therefore committed to ensuring that everyone has access to functional education in language familiar to them. We commend Microsoft for the great initiative to bring technology to everyone through the Local Language Program,” Honourable Lawan said.

Microsoft’s Citizenship Lead for Nigeria, Jummai Umar-Ajijola added that governments around the world are facing a great challenge in today’s global economy – the need to quickly build a strong economy that can effectively participate in an increasingly-interconnected world.

“In an environment as diverse as Nigeria – with over 500 ethnic languages – the need to eliminate the language barrier around technology education is critical to the success of the efforts to bridge the digital divide.

“It is in the light of this need that Microsoft developed the Local Language Program to provide the tools and technologies required to develop, enhance, and expand local IT economies and to enable language groups of all sizes to participate in this growth,” she said.

Articles 13 and 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Declare that all persons have the right to express themselves and to create and disseminate their work in the language of their choice, and particularly in their mother tongue.

According to Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, director-general of UNESCO, “Languages do indeed matter in attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which the United Nations agreed upon in 2000.

“They matter when we want to promote cultural diversity, and fight illiteracy, and they matter for quality education, including teaching in the mother language in the first years of schooling. They matter in the fight for greater social inclusion, for creativity, economic development and safeguarding indigenous knowledge.”

“We are very excited about the potential that Microsoft’s Local Language Program has for driving technology penetration in Nigeria,” Dr Adegbola added.

“This is a further demonstration of the company’s commitment to supporting the reform agenda of the present administration by transforming education and creating opportunities for local innovation. We are also delighted to be a part of this great project,” he said.


Microsoft has completed work on glossaries for the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba translations of Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007.

By this, Microsoft Windows and the four applications in Microsoft Office 2007- Excel, Word, Powerpoint and Access, can easily be adapted to versions in the three languages.

The firm said a Language Interface Pack that would allow the applications to fully be available in the three languages was in the works and would be delivered in the coming months.

The Supervising Minister of Education, Hajiya Aishatu Dukku, presented the glossaries to stakeholders in Abuja on Wednesday, a development that Microsoft noted was one more landmark in its Local Language Program in Nigeria.

Currently, the LLP scheme is working on 101 languages in the world and five in the West Africa.

According to the Country Manager, Microsoft Nigeria, Mr. Emmanuel Onyeje, the LLP is Microsoft’s response to the need to provide people of all regions, cultures and languages, with access to technology in a language that is familiar and which honours their cultural distinctions.

He said, “Learning a second language should not be a prerequisite for using technology. That is why we are working with governments and language authorities to translate our software and extend it to a broader set of users.

“Through the Local Language Program, we are giving our local communities the tools and resources they need to bridge the digital divide and create opportunities for economic advancement.”

At the presentation of the moderator of the localisation process in Nigeria, Dr. Tunde Adegbola of the African Languages Technology Institute, explained that the glossary and LIP would equip local information technology communities with the basic tools to create customised language solutions that promote economic growth and preserve local languages.

Developed from the glossary, the LIP is the application that connects the local language to the computer, through a native language desktop user interface.

When the process is completed, the LIP will be freely downloadable from the LLP website.

Local solutions can be developed on top of the LIPs, enabling the creation of localised products that enhance the value of each LIP and ensure the successful use of technology.

Adegbola urged the stakeholders to study the glossary, which was developed in collaboration with governments, universities, and language authorities to ensure that the standard technical terminologies had been translated correctly into the local languages.

The Minister of Education, Hajiya Aishatu Dukku, commended Microsoft for the initiative to eliminate the language barrier, which presented a serious challenge for teaching and learning technology at the grassroots.

She further outlined the national policy on education, which recognised the language of the environment as the first language of instruction for the first three years of education with English only taught as a subject.

From the fourth year, English language becomes the language of instruction, while the language of the environment and French are taught as subjects.

She said that with the LLP, teaching technology would be much easier.

The minister said, “There are so many skills we may not be able to transfer except in our local languages. This initiative by Microsoft is a first step for us to start thinking of how we can develop our languages further in order to grow our IT capacity.”

By eliminating the language barrier to technology education through the local language programme, Microsoft believes that many more people will be encouraged to use desktop software in Nigeria’s local communities, improving access to technology.

This will create new economic opportunities, and enriching people’s personal lives. The move will go a long way to bridging the digital divide between the developed and developing communities around the world.

It is expected that the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba language stakeholder groups will review the glossary and work with Microsoft to produce the final copy to move the LLP to the NEXT level.&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&
Microsoft launches Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo Vista
Monday, 08 June 2009 02:00 Hamisu Muhammad & Sunday Williams
Microsoft Nigeria has launched a language interface pack for Windows Vista in three major Nigerian languages; Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo as part of its Local Language Programme (LLP).
Launching the pack tagged, “LLP GO-live,” President Umaru Yar’adua who was represented by the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Alhassan Bako Zaku said the event is a turning point in the history of technology in the country. He said, “The initiative is a long awaited vehicle to take the benefits of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to the people at the grassroots in every nook and corner of the country. We truly believe that this will make IT solutions more accessible to the Nigerian community. It also represents a breakthrough for Nigerian linguistic and literary studies.”
He called on the people to take advantage of the huge opportunity of the language software to preserve and promote our mother languages while benefiting from continuing IT advancements.
Speaking, the General Manager for Microsoft Anglophone West Africa, Mr. Emmanuel Onyeje said the LLP has created a platform for Nigerians to embrace the now localized process to ensure that more of our over 500 indigenous languages are preserved by translating technology into them.
He said the translation of Microsoft Office in the three languages will be available later this year adding that when it becomes available, it will mean that Nigerians can access the productivity applications including Microsoft Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint in familiar languages.
He said, “Indeed this is a momentous event for our nation. With the availability of the Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba languages interface packs for Microsoft Windows Vista and the Microsoft Office 2007 to come later this year, we finally have a platform that allows a higher critical mass of Nigerian access to technology.”
He explained that the language interface software packs were created by Nigerians (their partners) living in the country.
“We need to move from being consumers to developers. We ensured that this process was localized. The tools are freely available for us to embrace and celebrate our diversity .
Others can now take these tools and develop new applications based on the existing platform,” he said.
Also speaking, Dr. Tunde Adegbola, of African Languages Technology Initiative, said any language that does not provide the tool for intergenerational communication is set to die adding that with the LLP, we are at least assured that the Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba languages will survive the next generation.
He said, “The diversity of languages spoken in Nigeria is a key element of our collective identity and is vital that we preserve these traditions while simultaneously equipping our citizens for success in the 21st century.”


February 28, 2011

Arts & Review
‘Yorubas must ensure the survival of their language’

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Written by Adewale Oshodi Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade, a Black American, left the United States in 1978 for Nigeria to embrace the Yoruba way of life. In this interview with Adewale Oshodi, the Chief Librarian of African Heritage Research Library (AHRC) at Adeyipo village, Ibadan, speaks on what made her to leave the United States, why she embraced the Yoruba culture, and why she has not visited America since she left 33 years ago. Excerpts:

[Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade]

Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade
You are a Black American who relocated to Nigeria in 1978, but don’t you think that it is rather ironic that you chose to come to Africa, when Africans themselves are struggling to migrate to America?
Any black person who is in the white man’s country is a slave to white people, and by the time I was 19, I said my children would never be slaves to white people, because in reality, we were their slaves, and that is how they still treat black people till today. There is no freedom for black people, and the way they treat us is just so bad, and I decided that my children would grow up in Africa. So, by 19, I had decided that I was coming to Yorubaland because I was told by Black Americans who were practising Yoruba religion that Yoruba is the best culture in the world, as well as the best language. So that was when I decided that my children were going to grow up with the culture and speak the language, and they would never be slaves to white people.

So, in 1978, I arrived in Nigeria. Then, my children were very young and I told them they must stop speaking English in the house and speak only the Yoruba language. So they spoke Yoruba. They call me Iya mi (my mother) because I told them I didn’t want to hear any word of English in the house, like mummy, and all other words that Yorubas are using to mix and destroy the language. I didn’t allow it. Now, my children are grateful for being brought up in the Yoruba culture. Even though they are back in America, they said the culture has really helped them. It has given them a sense of belonging. Now, I am confident that one day, they will also return to Yorubaland.

You are in Nigeria now, but how often do you visit America?
I have not gone back for once because I don’t want to be anybody’s slave. I just want to be me. I love my freedom here. The racism is still very strong in the white man’s country, especially in America. So, since 1978, I have been here. I have been enjoying Yorubaland. I have never suffered for once here like I suffered while in America. I am respected by the people around me.

You speak the Yoruba language fairly well..
I don’t speak it fairly well; I must tell you the truth, and that is the only problem I have with Yoruba people. If you don’t learn to speak the languagequickly,they stop trying to teach you,say you never can learn it and speak to you in english! So in that regards, they are yet to cooperate with me but I am pledging to speak only Yoruba by

Now, one of the problems we are having with the language is that Yoruba parents encourage their children to speak only the English language. What do you have to say to this?
That is how they are destroying the language, and they will be slave to English and white people forever. Once you take up another man’s language, you will become a slave to the real owners of the language.

What do you find interesting in the Yoruba culture?
Yoruba culture is the best in the world. Yorubas were in Egypt. The culture is the most developed in Africa, and that means it is the best in the world; I must tell you that the white culture is not developed. The Asian culture is also developed, but nothing compares with the African culture.

Do you still maintain contacts with your friends in America despite leaving there 33 years ago?
Of course, we are still very much in contact. I tell them everyday why they should return home to Africa. Africa is home to blacks all over the world. I tell them I am ready to help get them settled, and a lot of them are ready to come now because the racism is just so bad, and because I have coped really well here for 33 years, they say it means the place is not that terrible.

Since you came, was there a day you regretted your decision to relocate to Africa?
Not even once. The black man should be in the black man’s land. There is no way a black person can be happy in a white country. No matter how rich the black man is; no matter how successful he is, he is still not respected. They can pick him up anytime and say he robbed a bank, and then get him jailed without any evidence of him committing any crime. Those Nigerians who are abroad, majority of them are only working for the money, so after a while, they will raise some money, put up a structure back at home and then return when they feel they have achieved a degree of financial success.

And you were not discouraged by the lack of infrastructure, the lack of electricity, among other things, coming from a country that has everything?
First of all, freedom is the most important thing in life. If you have never been free, like the blacks in America, and you come to a place where you are free, will you be talking about electricity? Although there are some Black Americans who come here, and they dwell on the lack of infrastructure, but that is not for me. I want my children to be free. Everything is here for me. I cherish the culture, the language, and the respect people give me. Everywhere I go, I am respected. A black is not respected in America. Some people even wonder how I can be living in the village. But for me, freedom comes first.


October 19, 2010


Old play, new language
Edozie Udeze 17/10/2010 00:00:00

Who is Afraid of Solarin? a play by Professor Femi Osofisan, has always been a symbolic one. It is so because it is a comic treatise on what makes Nigeria and Nigerians unique. In the play, Osofisan uses plenty of comic scenes and statements to portray the story of a society where things work upside down. The name Solarin is used symbolically because of his role in trying to give a better direction to Nigerians and to the Nigerian state. The play chronicles Nigeria’s many socio-political problems in such a way that the audience are made to feel the impact while the play is on stage. You can’t help but laugh and hiss and then wonder the sort of society Nigeria is and why the people are what they are.

This was why it was selected as the independence play this year by the trio of Mufu Onifade, Tunde Kelani and the Lagos State government. However, the play which was translated into the Yoruba language by Dotun Ogundeji as Yeepa! Solaarin Nbo!!, is meant to send home the message to the larger Yoruba theatre audience.

In this new experiment, the message is supposed to sink deeper, so that people who love to see the lighter side of Nigerian myriad of problems dramatized on stage, would have a better view of it. The few days the play was on stage in Lagos last week proved that a lot of people were really eager to laugh away the problems of the society. Not only that the artistes led by Ropo Ewenla were on top of their game on stage, the large turnout of theatre lovers showed that the choice of the play was apt and appropriate.

To make the play appeal more to the audience, the producers introduced an opening glee. This marriage of convenience between opening glee and full-length drama presentation was Mainframe and National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP) Lagos chapter’s synergetic way of joining the Lagos State government in celebrating the 50th independence anniversary of Nigeria. This way, there was no moment of boredom. The artistes were able to appeal to the audience to wake up to the realities of the moment; to make Nigeria great.

Is this Nigeria of our dreams in 1960? That seemed to be the question raised on stage by the actors. Ewenla, the lead character was able to convince the audience that we need to do more; we need to work harder and be more honest to make Nigeria a better place for all and sundry.
Yeepa! Is an exclamation that something hilarious or ominous is about to happen and that people should sit up to welcome it. This situation calls for an acclaim, calling the Nigerian people that there are more than meet the eye. Solarin was an enigma of some sort when he was alive. Although the name is hyperbolic in a way, it goes to portray a visionary leader who saw long before now what the Nigerian society portended. Now the play in his name says it all.

Anywhere this play goes on stage, the euphoric appeal it gives leaves much to be desired. The Yoruba version of it also did much more; the message seeped deeper into the fabric of the audience whose laughter and hisses tore deep into the night. And so, it is kudos to Onifade for his sense of humour and wisdom. The play truly helped to embellish the mood of the moment and bring Nigerians back to that moment of reflection.

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October 18, 2010

original from

Film to the rescue of indigenous languages
The Arts Oct 17, 2010

For Nigerian indigenous languages to be preserved and saved from total extinction, there is an imperative need for the government at all levels to encourage the production of indigenous language films reports, Benjamin Njoku.

This was the observation of over 300 film makers, scriptwriters, directors, stakeholders and industry operators who gathered in Akure, Ondo State capital last week, for this year’s edition of the annual, Behind the Screen festival of indigenous languages, now known as, Festival of Indigenous African Language Films.

The festival, which held between October 3 and October 9, at Owena International Hotels, Akure saw the participants drawn from different parts of the country urging the government at all levels to consider the option of giving Nigeria’s indigenous language films a boost as a way of preserving such languages as well as saving them from total extinction as presently being threatened by global statistics.

They also asked the government to begin to pay more attention to the motion picture industry, which according to them, has not only brought global recognition to the country but also, is capable of becoming a veritable alternative to oil economy.

Professor Tunde Babwale, Director-General of the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation(CBAAC) who chaired the occasion posited the need for government to support film makers, noting that indigenous language films are critical to the development of any nation. He lamented the steady relegation of these languages, arguing that out of the 500 languages spoken across the ethnic groups in the country, only 84 of them are still in use.

Arguing further, Professor Babawale whose parastatal co-sponsored the event said the use of African indigenous films is also a means of propagating African tradition, culture and norms. “Promotion of our indigenous languages are the manual of development. There is no better way to market our country and our culture other than through film. It has a two fold ways of communication ; audio and visual.” he emphasized.

On CBAAC partnership with Remdel, organisers of the annual festival, Professor Babawale said, Remdel shares similar vision with CBAAC. “This is not our first partnership we were part of the festival last year. We want to use this film festival to project African culture and we also want to use it as an opportunity to show that our language can help in enriching our faith. We believe that there no better way to preserving our cultural heritage than the instrumentality of langauge.”Professor Babawale further stressed.

In her good will message, the wife of the Ondo State Governor, Mrs Olukemi Mimko, while commending the organisers of the 6-day event for taking the lead and for the bold step which would also bring the state to limelight urged parents and guidance to endeavour to teach their wards how to speak the local languages. She observed that despite the fact that “film serves as a medium of correcting societal ills, communication, relaxation and dissemination of information, it has equally found its way into our very existence such that the politicians are now using the film makers to achieve their political ambition.”

The First Lady however took a swipe at the state of th industry, lamenting the rate at which producers churn out obscene movies.

She observed that most of the movies are gradually eroding the rich cultural values of Nigeria, most especially the Yoruba culture, which she said, lays much emphasis on moderate dressing.

While advocating the need for the film makers to control the content of their works, the First Lady said obscene scenes are gradually eroding the qualitative works of the industry. She therefore urged the relevant agency saddled with the content check of the films to put in place a strict measure that would sanction producers who shoot obscene films.

Delivering a lecture entitled “Like Father Like Son: Random Reflection on Yoruba Society and the Yoruba Video-Films”, Professor Wole Ogundele, the Director-General of the Centre for Culture and International Understanding, Osogbo, Osun State, concluded that given the danger of extinction faced by African indigenous languages, any positive attempts and strategies to ensure their survival and preservation should be encouraged without any further delay.

According to the erudite Professor, who has a wide and varied knowledge of the film industry, in the absence of a vigorous language literature, the video-film remains one artistic form that is keeping the language alive in the creative and intellectual arena.

“Many African languages, including Yoruba which is spoken by millions of people along the West African coast, are already in danger and will become a threatened language.If it is the indigenous language films that will rescue our languages from that tragedy of eventual extinction, then, rather than crucify the film makers, let us salute them.” he concluded.

Other keynote speakers at the event, included Femi Odugbemi, film maker, who spoke on “The future of Film Distribution in Nigeria”, Mr Dele Oni, General Manager, NTA, Akure, Mr Dele Odule, ANCOP president,Mr Alex Eyengho, Mr Greg Odutayo, president, NANTAP and Dr. Gbemisola Adeoti, who also delivered paper on, “Advancing the role of Women in Politics using the film medium” amongst other speakers.


June 24, 2010

original one -This Day newspaper

This Day (Lagos)
Nigeria: Saving the Local Languages

21 June 2010

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Lagos — One of the strongest effects of western civilization is the gradual but steady erosion of the culture of the people, especially of former colonies. There is no where this has been demonstrated more than in the language of the people.

With western education came the fad of speaking the “whiteman’s language”. In Nigeria for instance, the ability to speak the English language was then, the most ready proof of “belonging” to a social class, high and above the local platform of those considered as mere natives. School children were then forbidden from speaking their local languages in the classroom. Offenders were punished for speaking vernacular. Over the years, this malaise has worsened.

Today, fewer and fewer people are able to speak, let alone write their native languages. If some indigenous languages have suffered poor orthographical development, that should not affect the ability to speak it. But modern day children, especially those in the urban centres now consider their mother tongue as a linguistic anathema.

This and other issues inform former Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Munzali Jibril’s warning that unless deliberate measures are taken to preserve and promote Nigerian languages, they stand the risk of going extinct. Already, some languages have “died”, with nobody speaking them anymore.

According to Prof. Jibril, 45 per cent of the world’s population speak only five languages: Chinese, English, Hindi, Spanish and Russian, just as the top 100 languages of the world are spoken by 95 per cent of the world’s people. The remaining five per cent speak over 6,000 languages, with some languages having just about 100 or even less speakers. This, to say the least, is worrisome.

That Nigerian languages are dying is no longer news. The present generation of children are hardly able to understand or communicate in their mother tongues. The craze for the English Language has long become a kind of status symbol. This is even worse among the children of the elite and urban dwellers. Worse still, is the adoption of pidgin English in most cities as the unofficial lingua franca. The blame for this loss is largely on the parents, some of whom are also unable to speak their native languages, and so find it difficult to train their children in their native tongues. Left unchecked, what that means is that generation after generation in such family lineage will miss out on the mother tongue, with the grave and telling effect of a steady but gradual disconnect with the native language.

It is in a bid to rescue the languages from extinction that the Federal Ministry of Education introduced the policy of ensuring that at least, one or two major Nigerian languages are taught in schools. Almost two decades after, this has not quite improved the health of native languages. Prof Babatunde Fafunwa, former Education minister had also directed, at the time, that teachers should give instructions in native languages as a way of building and developing the local languages. But most of the languages are shallow and poorly developed. That has restricted their use as medium of instruction. Worse still, several words in the English Language have no exact equivalent in the native language. For example it may not be easy to find the Yoruba or Igbo equivalent of the word “Chlorine” or “mega watts”?
Relevant Links

* West Africa
* Nigeria

But despite the challenges, Nigerian languages can be revived, at least in the spoken form, until more scholarly attention is devoted to their orthographical development. The place to kick-start this is at the home. Children in their early formative years have Tabula Rasa brain, literally meaning blank memory, on which parents must make initial linguistic imprints.

This is achievable even before the children attain school age. Conscious efforts must be made by parents to speak their native languages to their children, who in turn will grow to cherish the language and pass same on to their children, thereby sustaining the life of the languages. The regulated exposure of the children to Language lessons in the school is not enough to achieve the resuscitation of Nigerian languages. Parents must embrace the habit of speaking the local languages to the children. And the time is now.

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