Fighting to Save a Dying Nigerian Language

A NIGERIAN WOMAN IS OUT TO SAVE THE IGBO LANGUAGE WHICH HAS BEEN PREDICTED TO GO EXTINCT BY 2025. SEE HOW SHE IS DOING IT. 

Language is an important part of human interaction. On the wings of language, communication thrives. Igbo language, one the many 500 languages spoken in Nigeria, the major language of the southeastern part of Nigeria which has over 20 different dialects has been predicted by UNESCO to possibly go extinct in the year 2025. The Igbo tribe of the Nigerian people remains the major speakers of the language. The language is also being spoken sparingly and in minority in Equatorial Guinea. A Nigerian woman, Yvonne Chioma Mbanefo is fighting to save the endangered language one simple print at a time.

Yvonne Chioma Mbanefo faced a challenge with finding materials to teach her children Igbo Language. Knowing how key language was for her kids in their formative stage, she looked to find little to few good Igbo Language materials for young learners. Being an author, IT Consultant and Digital Strategist, she decided to take the dying bull by the horn by writing to publishing easy to digest Igbo illustration dictionary for children, three Igbo storybooks and colouring books, spiced with English and Igbo description of words.

Speaking on the motive driving her mission she said on Guardian Life “It is very hard to speak Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa without adding in a word of English… While the Igbo is still considered a major language in Nigeria, most people who speak it, tend to mix it with English as it has not been updated over time."

Seeing that English language is Nigeria’s lingua franca and the country’s priority language at schools and public communications, many children of the young generation are losing the touch to their roots language. Today, it is not uncommon to see Nigerians who do not speak their native language, worse now for Nigerians in diaspora.

Yvonne Mbanefo Photo via yvonnembanefo.com

Yvonne Mbanefo Photo via yvonnembanefo.com

On her language activism quest, Mbanefo is working to extend her language products beyond the Igbo Language into the other two major Nigerian Languages; Yoruba, Hausa. Beyond Nigeria the author is extending her product to a Kenyan Language spoken by the largest ethnic group in the country, the Bantu Kikuyu.