“Greetings from…” Umasoye, an Ekpeye language digital activist from Nigeria

Rising Voices invites you to join us for the premiere of the “Greetings From…” series, with five episodes of “audio postcards” featuring the voices of African language digital activists from South Africa, Nigeria, and Ghana.

In this inaugural episode, we explore the personal narratives of Franca Umasoye Igwe, who goes by Umasoye, in her own words.

Special thanks to producer Malcolm Bamba, whose collaboration with each activist has brought forth these compelling stories. Through his work, listeners will embark on a journey, gaining insights into the origins of each activist's digital engagement with their language. Additionally, this series sheds light on the challenges they confront and their ongoing motivation for their work.

The spotlight of our first episode shines on Umasoye, whose work revolves around the Ekpeye language of Nigeria. Rising Voices interviewed Umasoye in this earlier blog post about her work, and you can follow along the audio with its transcript below.

Download the audio file here

Malcolm Bamba (MB): Hello, everyone. I'm Malcolm Bamba and welcome to Rising Voices presents “Greetings from…” a series which follows language activists from across the globe sharing their stories of preservation in a digital age.

In this episode, social media marketer and language activist Umasoye shares her efforts to digitize the Ekpeye language of Nigeria. Here is her story.

Umasoye (U): Hello, my name is Umasoye and I am from Ahoada, Ekpeye ethnic nationality. Ekpeye is an ethnic group found in Rivers State, Nigeria. Today I want to share with you about my journey as an advocate for Indigenous languages.

Far back in 2020, I started an online class to teach my language. This was inspired by an encounter I had on campus. I met a student. She was not fluent in Ekpeye. She could not understand it. And you know, I thought of putting a class together for this set of people. But then Covid happened and the school was on lockdown, so we couldn't go on with the plans of having a physical class. So we had to start an online tutorial. And after the first edition, we got a lot of feedback, a lot of comments, and that was actually when I saw that my language had this issue that a lot of persons can no longer speak it.

I started the “Speak Ekpeye Fluently” initiative. Together with a team of like minded people, we have launched a book which is titled Eyolukanyi. So it's a book that has a collection of tales, proverbs, and a mini dictionary session.

And currently we are working with [the organization] 7000 Languages to create an online course for the Ekpeye language. When I started “Speak Ekpeye Fluently”, I was working actively as a photographer, so I worked part time in school. I studied agricultural extension and rural development, and then I was still trying to kick start my content writing career.

In 2022, I got a contract to write for a language and locals collection because I was an advocate for Indigenous languages. It was huge, a big contract for me because I was just starting out.

It's been a lot of positive moments and experiences so far. My advocacy in languages has given me the opportunity to meet with a lot of people who are also in the same field. I had the opportunity to connect with over 75 people around the world from different linguistic backgrounds. I mean, that was really a positive experience for me because I had to learn more about other people's culture, their languages and their language situation. So, so far, it's been a good journey. And yes, I look forward to see what the future holds for me on this path.

MB: Thank you for listening to Rising Voices audio postcard series. For more information on the language activists featured in this episode, visit rising.globalvoices.org or follow us at @DigiAfricanLang on X, formerly known as Twitter. I'm Malcolm Bamba and I will see you in the next episode.

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