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Experts advocate improving indigenous languages content on media


Stakeholders in the communication and broadcasting industry have advocated improved priority on indigenous languages content to promote better understanding and inclusive audience’s participation in the media.

The communication experts also emphasised the need for the concerned authority to enact policies that facilitate alternative platform, where indigenous languages are stimulated for value addition and orientation.

The stakeholders, who spoke at the opening of a two-day international conference on indigenous language broadcasting in Nigeria hosted by the Faculty of Communication, Bayero University, Kano, are unanimous on why indigenous languages should be liberalised across media strata to grow national integration.

One of the participants, Professor Emeritus from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Prof. Cecil Blake emphasised the importance of meaningful development where indigenous languages are given priority in various media outfits.

He expressed worry at how African elites tactically contributed to language erosion as they discourage their children to speak indigenous languages at home.

“The conference couldn’t have come at any better time because what we are witnessing in the African continent is more or less serious cultural erosion and that is large because we have abandoned the uses and application of our indigenous language in the continent. It is worrisome that we do have a percentage of some African elites who refused to talk to their children in their local languages.

“There is need to begin to see the elegance restoration of the beauty of our languages in radio, television and social media, where media owners return and make important recognition to our languages as an important vehicle for communication of development, education, entertainment and cultural enrichment.”

Former Vice-Chancellor, National Open University (NOUN), Professor Abdullah Uba Adamu, believed the government should promote the use of indigenous languages as legitimate broadcasting and communication models to enhance national cohesion.

While emphasising the power of communication, especially on social media, Professor Adamu stressed that proper restructuring of indigenous languages on broadcasting is capable of determining the fate of national development.

Ace broadcaster with Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Eugenia Abu, who cited 60 per cent of the Nigerian population are not media literate, advocated improved understanding of media contents through meaningful use of indigenous language.

Eugenia maintained that indigenous languages could resuscitate collective heritage and national pride. She said efficient use of the content will bring about the rediscovery of national identity.

Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor, Federal University, Kashere, Gombe State, and convener of the conference, Professor Umaru Pate, explained that the conference was organised to examine how our indigenous languages are utilised on the broadcast and particularly on other platforms with a view to promoting significant content in broadcasting media.

Pate stressed that indigenous languages have been part of communication, noting that the media needs the acceptable language of delivery that will capture the attention of the audiences as well as making the audiences understand the content of the messages being delivered.

“We want to examine how our indigenous languages are utilised on our broadcast and particularly on 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 remains the dominant language of broadcast on our channels generally.

“We have also checked the amount of time devoted to broadcasting in indigenous languages across various channels in the country and we realized 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 languages in our broadcast media organisation,” Professor Pate said.

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