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 Emeka Ezeibe (@Umu_Igbo) and what he plans to discuss during his week as host.
Rising Voices: Please tell us about yourself.
My name is Emeka Ezeibe from Anambra State Nigeria.I am a Transport/Logistics consultant currently working with a Key Transporter to Nigerian Breweries PLC and AB-InBev Nigeria. Though I come from an Engineering background, a bitter experience from childhood propelled me to become passionate about the propagation and preservation of the Igbo language using technology. I am the founder of @Umu_Igbo, a Twitter handle that seeks to promote the Igbo language, Culture, Excellence, Innovations and Proverbs.
RV: What is the current status of your language on the internet and offline?
UNESCO listed the Igbo language amongst those that will be going into extinction by 2050 and I believe that a lot of research was done to make such pronouncement. The status of the Igbo language both on the internet and offline is not encouraging at all though the writing of the language online have started to gain traction lately but a lot still needs to be done to encourage both Speakers and Writers to express themselves using the Igbo language on both platforms.
RV: On what topics do you plan to focus during the week that you’ll manage the @DigiAfricanLang Twitter account?
My primary focus will be on creating more awareness for the endangered language through the promotion of other platforms on the internet (Twitter, YouTube, etc) that are engaged in the Igbo language advocacy, preservation and propagation. I will also use the platform to promote the Igbo culture, literary giants, artists and music both contemporary/old school.
RV: What are the main motivations for your digital activism for your language?
My motivation was spurred by the fact that I was punished as a kid for identifying with my language. At a time, we were made to pay a sort of fine and in some cases flogged for speaking the Igbo language in class while in Primary School in an Igbo dominated environment. Unfortunately, that is still the norm in most model schools in Nigeria today where pupils are punished for speaking their Indigenous language. My encounter as a kid put a spark in me for what am doing today as regards promoting and preserving the Igbo language in the form of digital language activism.
What are your hopes and dreams for your language?
My hopes and dreams for the Igbo language is for the UNESCO prediction not to come to fruition. That the Igbo language will be written and spoken so long as Man exists on Planet Earth.