Ndigbo Unity Forum

The Federal Government has advocated “aggressive digital approach’’ to addressing the challenges of preserving indigenous languages.

The Minister of Information and Culture, made the call on Monday in Kaduna at the opening of a two-day Annual Round Table on Cultural Orientation.

The round table, with the theme “Indigenous Language Newspapers and National Development,” was organised by National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) in collaboration with the ministry,

The minister, who noted that indigenous languages were going into extinction, said that deployment of digital tools would help to revive them.

“Today, social media, YouTube, texting and specially developed applications for use on mobile devices, are being used to attract young people to learning ‘endangered languages.’

“There are also websites and online forums where people can interact and optimise their knowledge of those languages.

“The role of the electronic media in disseminating, aggregating and conserving our indigenous languages cannot be over emphasised.

“There is serious potential in the plethora of programmes on radio, television and on the web to spread the comprehension, appreciation and adoption of indigenous languages,” he said.

The minister said that beyond encouraging the teaching of indigenous languages to young people, they should be engaged via platforms popular with them.

He added that literary works like “The Lion and the Jewel”, “The Passport of Mallam Illia” and “Things fall apart” should be translated to indigenous languages.

He suggested that such classical novels should also be adapted into comics, graphic novels, TV shows as well as animated and live action feature films.

According to him, the gesture will instill and inspire in the youths a strong bond with their culture and facilitate greater understanding of their cultural identity and place in the world.

Mohammed warned that the nation’s indigenous languages are endangered, stressing that if urgent steps were not taken, they would go into extinction in no distant future.

“Situation reports have shown that there is a remarkable decline in the usage of indigenous languages by children and youths and many of them cannot read or write in their mother tongue, he said.

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The minister remarked that newspapers in indigenous language had vital role to play in reviving the fortunes of endangered languages, if their potentials were maximised.

He reiterated the commitment of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to accord culture its pride of place in its developmental agenda.

The minister commended NICO for its `tremendous work’ in the promotion of Nigerian languages and for organising the programme.

The Executive Secretary of NICO, Dr Barclays Ayakoroma, said the forum was designed by the institute to exchange ideas and generate recommendations on topical cultural issues.

He said the focus on indigenous language newspapers would go a long way to draw national attention to their invaluable contributions to the promotion of indigenous languages and culture.