Meet Adéṣínà Ayẹni, Yorùbá language activist

Photo provided by Adéṣínà Ayẹni.

In 2019 as part of a social media campaign to celebrate linguistic diversity online, African language activists and advocates will be taking turns managing the @DigiAfricanLang Twitter account to share their experiences with the revitalization and promotion of African languages. This profile post is about Adéṣínà Ayẹni AKA Ọmọ Yoòbá (@yobamoodua) and what he plans to discuss during his week as host.

Rising Voices: Please tell us about yourself.

Adéṣínà Ayẹni otherwise known as Ọmọ Yoòbá is a journalist and cultural advocate who took up the socialization function of the media through the preservation, dissemination and transmission of the Yorùbá cultural heritage both online and offline. As a voice over artist, he has produced uncountable Yorùbá advertisements for Nigeria radio campaigns and TVC. He's the founder of Yobamoodua Cultural Heritage, a platform dedicated to the propagation of the Yorùbá language and culture. Ọmọ Yoòbá is also the língua manager for the Global Voices Yorùbá site. He is a Yorùbá language instructor on where he has tutors students all over the world. He has also worked with Localization Lab, an international community of volunteer translators and end users, developers and intermediaries who work together to translate and localize digital security and circumvention tools.

Ọmọ Yoòbá has written a book titled: Ẹ̀yà Ara Ẹ̀dá Ọmọ Ènìyàn, a compilation of labeled diagram of the anatomy and morphology of the human body and herbs that work wonders on each parts of the body. He is a research fellow of the Firebird Foundation for Anthropological Research.

RV: What is the current status of your language on the internet and offline?

Firstly, the interest of the Yorùbá language online is commensurate to that of online, because many native speakers had abandoned the language of their ancestors, they do not want to associate with the language.
Though there have been upsurge in the presence of promoters of the language online but the reception is not something to talk about. On the other hand, people seldom speak the language, even parents do not encourage their offsprings to communicate in the mother tongue. It is not a good thing for the development of the language. The status is not different online and offline, there is no support for the language like the official English language.

RV: On what topics do you plan to focus during the week that you’ll manage the @DigiAfricanLang Twitter account?

History of the Yorùbá orthography, excerpts from the Ẹ̀yà Ara Ẹ̀dá Ọmọ Ènìyàn book, Yorùbá towns and villages, Yorùbá innovators, great individuals and et cetera.

RV: What are the main motivations for your digital activism for your language?

The ecological knowledge present in the Yorùbá indigenous language is too abundant to overlook or say, left to perish with time. Proverbs and ancient stories are insights into the theory and philosophy behind the Yorùbá heritage and language. These unique identity must be preserved due to its importance to the development of the world.

RV: What are your hopes and dreams for your language?

That the Yorùbá language is recognised internationally among the major languages of the world, so that I can speak in Yorùbá language and an interpreter interpret to English or other languages. It is my hope that the language is used as the language of discourse and pedagogy in school across the South Western part of Nigeria, and that every Yorùbá child will speak, write and read the language fluently.

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