Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Conference on Nigerian Pidgin

Conference on Nigeria Pidgin
(Ibadan : July 7-10th, 2009)

IFRA (Institut Fran├žais de Recherche en Afrique) will organise a conference on Nigeria Pidgin in the University of Ibadan from the 7th to the 10th of July, 2009. This conference proposes to explore the various dimensions of NP, and set the foundation for the Nigerian Pidgin Project aiming at producing a reference grammar, a dictionary and a teaching method for NP.

Nigeria Pidgin (NP) is spoken by more than 50 million speakers all over Nigeria, in a variety of forms that go from the vehicular “broken English” to the more elaborate and complex varieties developled by standup comedians, song writers, journalists and students. The broad intercomprehension that exists between the Pidgins spoken in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana and Sierra Leone give it a strong potential as a language for commerce and regional integration and could be useful in the present context of globalisation. Despite this powerful social and political potential NP suffers from a lack of recognition that hinders its development as a potential linguistic integrator for the Nigerian nation. The conference will center on the essential question:What is Nigerian Pidgin

Check for more info, and Call for Papers here at LinguistList.org, and the IFRA Nigeria Website

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Of Nationality, Nationhood and Miss Shaw

Yesterday while checking on a multilingual website, in search of further networks in translation and linguistics, I came across a curious thing. On the homepage was the language option for the user, and each language option was represented with a flag: the flag of Germany for German, the French flag for the French language, the Union Jack for English, and the Star and Stripes for American, the flag of China for Chinese etc. If there were Zulu there, I have no doubt that I would have seen a South African flag there, and a Kenyan flag for Swahili even though it is also spoken in Uganda and Tanzania. I did not find Yoruba, or Hausa on the site, but I had a chance to think that if they were recognized as international languages of communication, they would each have been represented by the Green-White-Green Nigerian flag. Very few countries in the world have the privilege of being populated by strong and different nations/nationalities who speak different languages that have each been recognized as a distinct national language.

Nigeria was coined by Miss Flora Shaw, the mistress of Nigeria's Administrator Lord Lugard from the word "Niger" which was what they called the large West African river. Some said Niger itself could have been a variant of "Nigger", and Nigeria the same as "an area of the Niggers." It is thus not surprising the revolt and cultural revolution of the new generation of Nigerian youths which has produced another variant of the name, now Naija. The older generation are still struggling to come to terms with the re-definition, as can be found in Dr. Reuben Abati's article A Nation's Identity Crisis. In many ways, it could be read as a reflection of an ageing generation's wonder at the dynamism of the new. The article, and the subsequent rejoinders will go into the archives as a marker of public self reappraisal. A wind is blowing through our polity, and out of it hopefully will arise something new and fresh - a renewal so long overdue.

"One nice thing about egotists: they don't talk about other people." - Author Unknown

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Of Lagos, George Carlin and Short Vacations

I spent last week in the city of Lagos, meeting old acquaintances, and attending a book reading, but mostly attending a pre-departure orientation programme for us Fulbright grantees going to the United States on various Fulbright Programmes this summer. It was held within the US Consulate at Lagos Island.

We were told about racism, homosexuality, loneliness, cold, money, food, jetlag and many other issues we'd have to deal with in the United States. I liked that, although it was a little scary to listen to the co-ordinator Atim George describe the experience of cold in the USA. Someone who has never lived in very cold weather before might be petrified, and I'd say that I still am although we were given a few tips on how to survive the American cold. I still remain in reverent dread of the Midwestern American cold where I hope to spend the winter this year. The event ended with a press conference where journalists were invited to see, listen, and ask questions. Up until now, I've trawling the web trying in vain to find one report from the event. None so far.

Earlier in the week, I had the pleasure of a boat ride across the Ikoyi River in company of two friends from the Fulbright pre-Orientation Programme who had been lodged into the same hotel as me at Ikoyi. We had strolled out into the breezy Lagos night, hoping initially just to enjoy the evening, until we stumbled on the idea of a boat ride just for the fun. Actually it was his crazy idea. We dared the night and speeding speedboats and crossed the river giggling like school children. In a few minutes, it was over. It was however an enchanting experience.

In Lagos last week also, I also managed to re-unite with George Carlin, whose irreverent rants I've missed all my life, except for the cameo snippet in the movie, Dogma. It was a great pleasure to gain possession of most of his spoken word albums and a few video performances. He's surely one of America's greats. The weekend wrapped up with a visit to the cinema to watch the Terminator Salvation. Not bad for an action movie although many fans of Arnold Schwarzenegger would have been disappointed with the little role given to the man. Oh, was that even a man in the movie playing him?

That was it. I'm back to base, sipping water and complaining about a parched throat, general lassitude, and slow internet connections. I've written a short commissioned article on the new writings from Nigeria for Nigerianstalk.org. Check it when you can, and leave comments. I'm now off to listen to more politically incorrect irreverantings of George Carlin, one of the most famous stand-up comedians of our time, and to rest. I need that.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Behind the Door

Hi There Dear Invisible, Silent Blog Readers,

My first published short story - if you'd call it that - was published, online on the 29th May. Titled "Behind the Door", it is published by Story Time.