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Indigenous languages get a boost with Nalingo Naija

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Nalingo Naija

Burdened by the threat of extinction of Nigeria’s indigenous languages especially among the middle and upper class, Nalingo Naija, an interactive and entertaining digital platform, is poised to teach indigenes and non-indigenes the Yorùbá language and culture.

It is a known fact that a lot of indigenous languages are facing the threat of extinction. Seven thousand indigenous languages are spoken around the world today, and four in 10 of them are in danger of going extinct, a recent United Nations study warned.

After its release in August, U.N. experts called for a series of steps, including new laws and international commitments, to reverse what they described as the “historic destruction” of indigenous languages.

Founded by Yetunde Ayeni-Babaeko, and produced by CS-Production, the programme was birthed out of the need for an effective and entertaining representation of the Yorùbá language on digital media.

Together with professional Yorùbá teachers, professors and actors of all ages, Babaeko’s team established a new and effective concept of teaching in a fun way. Each video, which is available on YouTube and other channels, is about two to three minutes long and is divided into two sections.

The first one allows the audiences listen to the vocabulary they need to know for the video. The second part is the play between mostly two to three actors.

In the videos, the actors speak slowly for the viewer to be able to follow the plot for easy comprehension and also, to be able to read the subtitles which are very essential in the learning process.

Born and bred in Germany, Babaeko hinted that the subtitles in the video are 100 per cent accurate, “you do not just have the English subtitles but the Yorùbá subtitles with intonation marks as well.

“I’m a Nigerian-German. I grew up in Germany and I never get to learn Yoruba. So, I felt how could I use the media to change the narrative because there are many like me out there. It is a channel that makes speaking Yoruba cool again. Speaking Yoruba doesn’t mean you are backward.

“The programme targets younger generations, as these days, Nigerian parents struggle to keep Yorùbá language in their households alive. Also, Nigerians in Diaspora and schools/universities teaching indigenous cultures will benefit immensely from this YouTube Channel.

“The channel is useful to everyone. Even Yoruba speakers can improve their spelling and pronunciation with the videos.

“I think the indigenous language is a beautiful though it’s difficult to learn but it can be mastered. If necessary measures are not taken now, our native languages might go in extinction, though if you go to the lower classes Yoruba is still very common.”

She urged the government to implement a law to make native languages compulsory in schools, “most schools are not teaching Yoruba, Hausa or Igbo but Arabic and French. If you go the length to teach Arabic why not go the length to teach them their indigenous languages. There are schools that also teach Chinese in Nigeria but they are not teaching them their own languages.”

Babaeko said, “our slogan is, ‘learn your language, but the objective is to make speaking Yoruba cool again. Subsequently, we are going to include other languages and that is why it is Nalingo, meaning Nigerian languages. There is also an open spectrum to incorporate other languages.”


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