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Experts canvass improved use of indigenous language in broadcast

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Stakeholders in the communications industry have canvassed an improved indigenous language content in the broadcast industry to promote better understanding and inclusive audience participation.

They also raised the need for initiation of policies that would promote alternative platforms for indigenous language expression.
The stakeholders, who spoke at a two-day international conference on Indigenous Language Broadcasting in Nigeria, which was hosted by Faculty of Communication, Bayero University, Kano, were unanimous on the need to have a liberalised media space that would foster national cohesion.

One of the participants, Emeritus Professor, Cecil Blake, from the Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, United States of America, lamented how African elite have contributed to language erosion, with most of their children unable to communicate in local language at home.

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“The conference couldn’t have come at a better time because what we are witnessing in Africa is cultural erosion and it is largely because we have abandoned the uses and application of our indigenous language in the continent. It is worrisome that we have a high percentage of African elite, who do not know how to hold conversation with their children in local language at home.”

Former Vice Chancellor, National Open University (NOUN), Professor Abdullah Uba Adamu, said that the government should promote its use as a legitimate broadcast and communication model to enhance national integration.

Veteran broadcaster and formerly of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Eugenia Abu, who said that 60 per cent of Nigeria’s population is not media literate, stressed the need for improved understanding of media contents through a meaningful use of indigenous language.

Abu maintained that indigenous language remained collective heritage and national pride, stressing that efficient use of the content will bring about rediscovery of national identity.

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Earlier, the Vice Chancellor, Federal University, Kashere, Gombe State, Professor Umaru Pate, explained that the conference was organised to examine how indigenous language content could be used in the media.

Pate stressed that it has been part of communication; noting that the media needs acceptable language of delivery that will capture attention of the audiences as well as making them understand content of the messages being delivered.

“We want to examine how our indigenous languages are utilised in our broadcast and particularly, other platforms. How do we utilise our indigenous languages to promote content to the public? You cannot talk to people in a language they do not understand, because that will not gain maximum participation. Again, from studies, we realised that English still remained the dominant language of broadcast in our channels, generally.

“We have also checked the amount of time devoted to broadcasting in indigenous language across various channels in the country and we realised it is not significant. English still remains dominant, and to some extent, our three other local languages follow. But there are reasons for that. Broadcast organisations are economically challenged because it will be difficult for them to devote huge resources to indigenous content broadcasting because these areas hardly attract sponsors and advertisers. These are some of the challenges we are putting our heads together to brainstorm and see how we can further improve the projection of indigenous language in our broadcast media organisation,” Pate said.

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