Isiodu and Nnadi - New Perspectives on Producing Igbo Literature

November 17, 2017 | Author: nwatadote | Category: Dialect, Phoneme, Word, English Language, Igbo People
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Modern ways of writing for Ndị Igbo? An informational paper intended for presentation at the ISA conference 2013, by Ụna Kelechi Isiodu, Oge Nnadi Abstract1 For some time the phrase ‘digital divide’ has been used as a heading under which are listed the differing abilities and levels of ease with which various local populations, access and use digital technologies. Igbo people are not strangers to the challenges posed by the ‘digital divide’, yet there is much in evidence to suggest that her populations are increasingly acceding to digital equipment and technology. One classic application resulting from increased adoption of these tools is that nascent and new works of writing and literature, products, programs, (employing full diacritics and tonemarks in some cases in all the glyphs of our alphabet) are being made. Still, how easy is this? This paper aims to cover in an entirely topical way the various systems and methods in existence for cheaply producing works in Igbo language on modern computing and communication devices; to summarise them and encourage their use and adoption, increasingly. The paper will discuss some of the obvious barriers to adopting or using a few of the highlighted methods and some other non-obvious ones. New operating systems have sprung into existence to ride the current wave of mobile and ‘cloud’ - computing technologies; among these are:

Android operating system (developed by Google Incorporated – open source)

Apple IOS system (developed by Apple Incorporated – proprietary)

Microsoft’s Windows Mobile Platform (proprietary technology developed and owned by Microsoft corporation)

These mobile platforms and/or operating systems stand alongside their more established cousins that have traditionally run on larger (and somewhat) less mobile systems - typically desktops and servers; laptops and net-books because of market segmentation are now in a category in between mobile and completely tethered. On all these systems (including Mcrosoft’s Windows, the multifarious Linux and Apple’s Macintosh OSX operating system), it is possible to produce Igbo language alphabets, characters together with our language diacritics, glyphs and tone-marks. In addition to modifying existing fonts and using innovations to communicate-with ease.


As at November 2012


Since it may be assumed that more and more Igbo men and women will increasingly use computer/computing keyboards for communication in the near future for producing text written material for screen or print output, more than they are likely to use traditional writing devices (pens, pencils and paper – these still being valid); this paper is timely, of vital importance; and full of practical consequences for all our populations where-ever they are found. One example as part of this paper shows the use of one such highlighted system to produce a complete trans-script, interpretation and translation of ‘Things Fall Apart’ into Igbo Language made by Odengaalasị Ụzọma Nwaekpe Esq’2 Background Reading Publishing text in indigenous African Languages by Conrad Taylor. A workshop paper by Conrad Taylor for the Bar CAMP Africa UK conference in London, 2009.3


Ụzoma Nwaekpe is currently in talks and deliberations with the writer of ‘Things Fall Apart’, Prof. Chinua Achebe and his London based publishers about publishing this work. As might be expected, there are many considerations surrounding such an enterprise. 3 Copies of Conrad Taylor’s paper are available from http://barcampafrica The author may be written to at [email protected]


Prologue “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean; neither more nor less.” Lewis Caroll—that doyen of English Language—makes one of his characters say the above line for his famous work in ‘Alice in Wonderland’. This simple freedom which, Mr Caroll’s ‘Humpty Dumpty’ showed is not something which our creative writers or their academic counterparts have shown with any consistency within the Igbo Language. For what seems like an age in the Igbo language, the debates have raged back and forth among developers of it. What true forms should look like, together with the grammars and spellings of those forms have not completely settled into an accepted standard. And when the nearest thing to a standard form was criticised by the most famous Igbo writer of recent history, it seemed like the last nail had been struck into the coffin of the yet nascent movement to evolve a standard ‘working’ literary form for the Igbo Language. This use of the ‘word’ working—is a deliberate ruse of the paper; with a particular function to be explained later. Igbo Language is spoken in southern Nigeria and it is one of a number of major Nigerian languages being itself the chosen—conversational form for about 15 to 16 million people living in Nigerian urban centres and a third of that figure living in the rural areas The Nigerian high commission in London puts the number of Nigerians living in Diasporas in a range between 300,000 to 500,000 persons4. Of that percentage—an eight may be Igbo men and women. That figure added to the previous one cited makes the total up to about seventeen million Igbo potential speakers. Most Igbo language text books having to do with teaching or explaining it, usually includes a map of some sort depicting Igbo land, showing readers and students where speakers and writers of the language are drawn from, but such maps are a bit clichéd now in the days of ‘Google maps’ and will not be included here. Some of this information is readily ascertained too, from language encyclopaedias and handbooks which serious readers can find easily. This paper, in rushing to accomplish its ends, poses afresh the question of a ‘literary standard’ for the Igbo language—asụsụ-na-okwu Igbo—and attempts to bridge the small voids that have developed between the ideas clusters which have gathered within the wider matrix that supports in turn, most, if not all the ideas that have been proposed in the past towards forging a literary standard. Its title–New perspectives on producing Igbo literature, manufacturing (?) and


This figure was given as of 2001, but there is ample evidence to suggest an upward revision of that figure. Consider the figure given by The Central Association of Nigerians In The United Kingdom of closer to two million persons in the United Kingdom alone as stated on their website


publishing—was chosen to focus the mind around the phrase ‘new perspectives’ meaning, a fresh way to look at old problems affecting the production of Igbo literature, manufacturing, e.t.c. What is a standard? What should it do? Is it necessary? It is possible to answer in surprising new ways. Old traditional answers may serve still. Most traditional scholars have given answers by first making a distinction between a spoken standard and a literary standard (by which they mean a written standard) and have then proceeded to give copious answers in support of a written standard. In his book; Towards an Igbo Literary Standard, Akụjụọobi Nwachukwu, writes: The question of a spoken standard is only marginal and will not be considered beyond … In an ideal situation the written (literary) and spoken standards should be the same; but in practice this is seldom the case. [He goes on ... parentheses are mine] … The reason is that a literary standard is normative and prescriptive in character and spirit whereas a spoken standard is not; a literary standard is generally consciously propagated through its use in education and the examination system associated with it, in publications and the media, but a spoken standard is never so propagated.5

From this we glean, that for this writer at least, a standard is prescriptive and normative— and it is this normative character that makes it a standard amongst other qualities A good number of scholars agree with this qualification of what a standard is or should be. Before Akụjụọobi wrote his book in 1983, more than two decades earlier in 1961, the word ‘official’ was used to prescribe certain usages and directions for the Igbo language. Those prescriptions were made by the eastern central government of the day with the support of the SPLIC—the Society for the promotion of Igbo Language and Culture—and their document, made available as the Ọnwụ committee’s recommended orthography was a measured successful document. Ọnwụ’s document adopted certain usages over others and propagated certain working principles, but it was not owing to these reasons, that it became successful. Its success was hinged rather on the fact, that its prescriptions were taken up and applied ‘en masse’ to the learning community. Teachers and educators took its principles into schools and began teaching the language making use of the suggestions incorporated in the SPILC’s recommendations. Many more high quality books were produced designed to immediately teach


P.A Nwachukwu, Towards An Igbo Literary Standard, Kegan Paul International London, Boston and Melbourne, 1983.


and propagate this ‘standard’ in its forms, structures and grammars. Here then was evidence of conscious planning and propagation of a body of recommendations, which had the makings of wide-spread adoption and were, to all intents and purposes, the delineation of a standard—it was not; it was orthography; yet, it functioned really, as a standard. The 1961 document—with its notes on scripts and spelling for teachers and it suggestions around vowel harmony—was a promulgation of a standard in everything but name. It is included in the appendices for this paper6 and the fact, that teachers and educators made use of its provisions shows that it was prescriptive for the purpose, proving the use normally reserved for standards or a standard. Yet, through it all, Ọnwụ’s orthography document retained its major detractors and critics. Chief among the accusations levelled against the Ọnwụ committee’s recommendations was this idea that it did not yield a character or letter for each distinct or distinctive sound made in the Igbo language. This is what linguists and language scientists might call a contravention of the phonemic principle, where, every distinctive sound of a language should be represented by one symbol or character of that language’s orthography. This has not happened. Those on the committee’s side, who counter, point to the English language with which they compare the Igbo language; pointing out that the English alphabet with its twenty six letters do not account for all the sounds that are made in that language or that are even possible to make in that language. Yet—so their argument runs—that has not stopped the English language from becoming phenomenally successful. The phonemic deficiency was not the only weakness pointed out for the erstwhile standard. Another caveat was that it made use of diacritics and had not done away with them all together. Another sticking point was that it did not cater equally to all the dialects found in the language. To seize upon the question of dialects for a moment, a dialect would be something spoken locally, a regional variety of a language spoken more universally. Still, usually this cavalier treatment of the word—though exactly true for the Igbo case—might fail to persuade someone who expects something more from the word dialect. Traditionally when someone really wants to know what a word means, they turn to a dictionary, although a dictionary might not explain really what a word means. A dictionary more correctly describes the history of a word and how those conversant with that word have used it in their language community or communities, down through the ages or over a period of time. This is how one reputable, accessible dictionary describes the word.

6 Authors and distributors (of the Onwụ Committee’s document) and publishers (of this one) permitting such use. G.E Igwe (Reverend) has suggested authorship for this document via comments made as part of the preface to his Igbo-English Dictionary of 1999.


One dictionary’s ‘meaning’ of the word dialect? di.a.lect \dī-ə-lekt\ noun Usage: often attributive 1a : a regional variety of language distinguished by features of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation from other regional varieties and constituting together with them a single language b: one of two or more cognate languages e.t.c. This paper does not go on to list every entry under dialect for Merriam Webster’s 7dictionary, else copyrights might have to be sought to make a verbatim representation of the word. Assuming that these abridged working definitions presented are acceptable descriptions of what a dialect generally denotes, it becomes immediately apparent that nowhere in our working definitions is the requirement made that a dialect be written or that it is written. It may be further assumed that a dialect would be written, since languages ultimately become written at some point, but the insistence is not made. Another insight which may occur to anyone, from the thought experiment which caused us to delve into a dictionary for a moment is that most languages have dialects. Every single language can be imagined to have a regional variety which is spoken as such. This ties back in its meaning to the point which was made earlier regarding orthography or specifically—the English orthographic system—it’s alphabet, no less—does not carter to all the sounds made as part of the language. A semantic trick is that this earlier point is not really about sounds as dialects but sounds as phonemes8.


The way this word was denoted in the dictionary does not copy or represent all features incorporated in the description of the word. For instance, the interface does not incorporate the speech icon which was embedded to describe how the word dialect should sound. The version or form of the dictionary used was an app on the iphone. 8 Phonemes are distinguishing speech sounds. Phoneme - a speech sound that distinguishes one word from another, e.g. the sounds "d" and "t" in the words "bid" and "bit." A phoneme is the smallest phonetic unit that can carry meaning. This is from Encarta Dictionary: English (North America).


Dialects versus Speech-sounds This discussion of dialects can quickly become oxymoronic. For instance, the question may be asked: aren’t dialects mere accents? ‘Yes’, if you think dialects are mere regional variations in speech patterns. No, if you think there are whole rules and entire grammars keeping one dialect apart from its neighbour or cousins—whereupon dialects begin to take on the makings of a separate language if you accept to answer ‘No’ in this second way. The main point to note is that every language has one or more instances of dialect, which seems a painfully obvious thing to point out but which nonetheless forms part of the point of this paper because of the weight which many Igbo scholars accord the occurrence of dialects within the language and for the evolvement of a standard form. Within the development of Igbo language, the occurrence of dialects has traditionally been presented to its speakers and users as a weakness. This tendency has existed among developers of the Igbo language since the very first efforts began to be made, till this day, to evolve a common language (not a spoken form but a written form) which stands the best chance of affording to the Igbo, a flowering of literature.

It took a scholar like Igwe as he wrote, for his dictionary, published in 1999, to present a different (and more) wholesome view point: In order to create a glorious future for Igbo one of the things that must be done now is to adopt a positive attitude towards its dialects. The prevailing attitude which sees the dialects as constituting a problem must be replaced by one which regards them as a rich and valuable asset. It is a widely recognized fact that Igbo has several dialects, so it is no longer news to mention the fact. Furthermore, it is not helpful or encouraging to those who want to learn and use the language to continue to talk about the dialects in a disparaging manner. The dialects of Igbo form part of its richness and fascination as a language. What is called for at this point in the history and development of the language is a synthesis of the dialects by every means possible. The Igbo people travel about and mix more freely and frequently than ever before. So there is more cross dialectical borrowing going on than used to be the case. But this process is hindered when critics condemn some expressions as ‘dialect’ or ‘not widely known’. It is therefore necessary to abandon this type of criticism. It is negative. The positive, and therefore the creative, thing to do will be to encourage people to use their dialects and make them available to others, and the same time to avail themselves of the dialects of others. All Igbo dialects belong together.9


Igbo – English Dictionary, G. Egbemba Igwe, Ibadan, University Press, 1999, ISBN 9780304177.


The couching of the view that dialects were a problem it seems, might be traced to Professor Ida C Ward’s tour of the country and the subsequent report which she produced. It is hard to come away from a serious reading of her report in book form, published in 1941: Ibo dialects and the Development of a Common Language, without the mild impression that her writing conveyed the impression of Igbo being a difficult language because of the fact of her (Igbo’s) many dialects.

Those difficult diacritics Most other writers on the problems which sometimes attend standardisation of Igbo language hack back to Ida Ward’s report to borrow her arguments more or less. For instance, the discouragement with which diacritics are viewed by certain scholars was described by Professor Ida Ward. Akụjụọobi wished in his book that the language might do away with them altogether from which we may infer that his use of them for his book and in the spelling of his name on the front cover might have been done with a slight grudge. Professor Michael Echeruo, (Yale scholar) writing a bit later in his dictionary, Igbo-English Dictionary, which introduced a system he called the New Standard Orthography sought to do away with the ‘ch’ digraph, with a sound argument borrowed or echoed from Ida Ward’s book. He also proposed under this new orthographic system, diereses or umlauts as opposed to diacritics and where Ward disparaged diacritics citing that printers found them difficult and that they were unkind to the eyesight, Professor Michael Echeruo sought to replace their use because, for type-written material and underlines, the diacritics were going to be obliterated by a line through them as our letter forms and sentences got underlined thereby showing one instance of how considerations around the representational medium itself can influence the development of written language itself. The thing to note is that both scholars here were not proposing original insights per se. Both scholars harked back to and rehashed in one form or the other, Ida Ward’s earlier misgivings about diacritics; and many objections that rue the particular outcomes of the evolution of our language many times bear veiled references to Ward’s earlier objections.

Why was Ida Ward’s report so important?

Her report was important because it was a thorough sweep of the language development


broom. Not only was her report-book compiled while on a tour of the Ibo (sic) country, the book for its time and probably the first time, contained thorough-going analysis derived from field after equally pains-taking consultation with native speakers of the language. She was in touch with the ‘change managers’ of her day in the shapes and persons of the officials of the Roman Catholic and Protestant Missions. She was also making her recommendations to the then administration which had some sort of vested interest in a suitable language with which to conduct the operations of government.10 That she was knowledgeable was unquestionable. She was equal parts teacher and evangelist and it can be deduced from her report that she even engaged in avid advocacy and promotion on behalf of the Igbo language. It was also clear that a paramount concern of her report was a desire to pave a way for the appearance of Igbo stories and other literature—which she felt educated Igbo men and women were capable of—once the question of a standard was settled. It is no wonder that her unrealised aspirations for the development of the language were seized upon by later scholars as launching pads for efforts of their own ‘to extend’ the actual standard, which later resulted. Her work was such a cultural tour de force that it yielded one node in nomenclature for the later periodisation of the developmental pace of the Igbo language. It was Ward that gave the generality the epithet of ‘central Igbo’ together with its recommended ‘dialect cluster’ out of which she hoped the eventual standard for the production of Igbo literatures was to appear. The paramount place of literature How are the operation and eventual success of a standard to be judged? Ida Ward was sure, and most other scholars have echoed her; it is only after the floodgates became opened and the standard language yielded a flood of new literatures in the native language that it becomes possible to chart the indices and/or pronounce the success or failure of any particular programmes of language development. The effectiveness of a standard is to be judged almost solely, by its yield, in terms of literatures produced with or by it. The one thing is directly proportional to the other. And it is to be agreed, grudgingly accepted, or out-rightly denied, that by this measure alone, every standard since Ward’s recommendations—including the Ọnwụ committee’s defacto standard—has been a catastrophic failure, speaking relatively. In seeking answers or reasons for this state of affairs, this paper compares the situation to other languages which had a similar or parallel developmental path as the Igbo language to see if there are any learning points. It also looks at answers which have been attempted by other scholars who


Ida Ward’s report actually features on page 15, a conversation or session between a paramount chief and the British Administration’s District Commissioner (D.C) in the new orthography her work had just been proposing.—a deictic exercise of curious fascination and satisfaction. (See Ida Ward’s book; already alluded to).


have pondered the problem. It is to a scholar like Professor Maazị Azụonye whose work and or lectures can be reviewed by his monographs and books—and who has pondered similar questions—that this paper turns in an attempt to front-feed answers. It is also from him that a periodising scheme11 is borrowed in order to categorise all ideas around the development of the Igbo language. In one monograph from the selected works of Professor Chukwuma Azuonye—probably excerpts from a larger work, available on the Internet, under the auspices of the Massachusetts University—, we find under the heading: The Development of Written Igbo Literature, a fair cover of most seriously written things belonging to the culture or using the ‘standard’ Igbo language. His book contains a thorough and great literature review of the language culture, which, Alain Ricard writing as part of his book, The Languages and Literatures of Africa12, puts down to a list of 70 novels, 25 dramatic works and 11 anthologies, in summary of Professor Azuonye’s literature review. In at least one other comparable literature review the authors of this paper found, that occurs as part of Professor Emenyọnụ’s 1976 book, The rise of the Igbo novel, we find works listed which do not appear in Professor Azuonye’s review and are absent from his literature review, which are also typical of the language culture. Such works as: Polyglotta, 1854 by S.W. Koelle, Akụkọ Nigeria, Third Edition, 1964, provide a few examples.


One other periodising scheme appears on the late Nkiru Pritchett’s website, [] where she follows a similar scheme attempting to delineate the developmental phases of Igbo language into ranges of years, roughly calculated, giving rise to rough periods. 12 Alain Ricard’s book is an updated version in English of material included in an earlier edition written in French, Ricard’s Litteratures d'Afrique noire (The Languages & Literatures of Africa) (1995)


But it is Professor Azuonye’s periodisation that is the more important point for scholars of the history of Igbo language’s development. The Isuama Igbo Period, 1857 - 1905; The Union Igbo Period, 1905 - 1941; The Central Period, 1941 - 1973; and The Standard Igbo Period, 1973 - the present? Dictionaries in or about the language are in a special category and were not necessarily listed as part of Professor Azuonye’s review. Yet the importance of dictionaries cannot be overstated, because together with the wrangles over standard orthography, well written dictionaries tend to contain summarised analogies and debates presented in their prefaces for readers and students. When studied together, dictionaries form effective tools to understand development within the language right up to the modern point. Attempting a cursory analysis from Professor Azụonye’s literature review shows that except for Tony Ubesie’s books, the period after the Nigerian civil war (also known as the Biafran war) is marked by a striking paucity of Igbo text-written material or literature in the language. This reticence being shown towards developing works in the language began somewhat before the civil war but after that war, it became an absolute virtual moratorium. This effect of the possible disenchantment of the war on the further development of Igbo language literature has not received sufficient treatment by commentators and scholars yet one or two scholars have paid passing compliments to the idea. Others argue that the moratorium is not due to any disenchantment inbred or caused by having lost a war. The lack of a vibrant literary scene among ndị Igbo and in their language amount to a total lack of interest on the part of educated Igbo men and women, is the other argument being made. Professor P. Akụjụọobi Nwachukwu writes representing such views, echoing Professor Emenanjo in his book: If Central Igbo at the moment lacks a universal acceptance among the Igbo, as Emenanjo rightly argues, it is because that the educated Igbo have hitherto not shown pride in studying their language, let alone popularising it. 13 His words, used like this in specific application to a notional Central Igbo, were also true for the


P.A Nwachukwu, Towards An Igbo Literary Standard, Kegan Paul International London, Boston and Melbourne, 1983. Pg.3.


state of Igbo language development in general at that time. It is perhaps due to papers like this and the academic, charitable and overall beneficial interest of other influencers who publish works like this, that we may begin to claim the opposite at this time. Perhaps Akụjụoobi writing in 1983, deliberately snubs the emergent standard by referring still to a Central Igbo after the declaration by the Ọnwụ committee in 1961, because of that standard’s felt deficiencies which stood in the way of any real production of popular works of literature. Some complained that their dialects were neglected. Others complained that the standard orthography was like asking everyone to relearn a language they already were conversant with. Dialect levelling, which everyone since Professor Ward had agreed would be one good effect of acceding to a standard written form of the Igbo language was rearing up its head in a totally different way—almost as a separate question now—with a succeeding generation of linguists, academics and language developers. It was as though no one wanted to use the new standard if the unique sounds representing their particular way of enunciating words were not uniquely catered to by the new orthography. It had become popular circa 1962 to speak of—or see referred to in print—the phenomenon of ‘Modern Igbo’; held to be a form of the ‘spoken and written’ language which various Igbo migrants—from the hinterlands to the urban centres and towns—used in their discussions and social transactions. This form deliberately dampened the most serious effects of dialect dissonance and employed mostly words and a form of phrasing which experience had thought the user was most accessible to other users, interlocutors, audience and companions. This was dialect levelling without arguments per se, against the standard. Writing the preface to his dictionary, Ọkọwa Okwu in 1962, the late professor F.C Ogbalu describes this modern form which had resulted: In compiling the Dictionary I have chosen common forms of the words and I have not any particular attention to particular dialects. This is because the book is not intended to be a Dialect Dictionary. I am constantly guided by what I call the ‘Modern General Igbo’ which is already developing as a result of social, commercial, religious and political intercourse and co-mingling never heard or known before. I have in a little measure when convenient transformed the form of some words into Modern General Igbo which is yet in the bud. Professor Ọgbalụ—this champion of the language—can hardly claim ignorance of the standard, promulgated the year before he wrote. It was virtually a contingent of a body which he founded— the SPILC14—that had proposed the standard. That he himself had misgivings about the particular forms that promulgation had taken may be assumed. He had engaged in various debates and 14

The Society for the Promotion of Igbo Language and Culture.


arguments with the missions—RCM15 and CMS16—who were by and large among the first real defacto developers of the Igbo language regarding the form and cast of the resulting orthodoxy and orthography and was not entirely happy about certain choices the Ọnwụ committee had taken, 17

eventually. It is safe to conjecture perhaps from this little excerpt here from this preface, written

post the promulgation, as well as others which he produced much later; that he had arrived at some form of compromise within himself about the directions of development within the language. It is this writer’s view that he (Ọgbalụ) could sound as optimistic a note as he did at the time, for he had not reckoned with the civil war. Debates, debates and more orthography debates The history of language development since the end of the Biafran war, reads at some level as a history of debates between supporters of the standard orthography and its detractors— showing that while Ọgbalụ might have made compromises, others had not. These debates raged through out this period with the artists, writers and creative types preferring a different orthography, leaving academics and professional students in the main feeling that the standard orthography was more or less, sufficient. Professor Emenananjo as someone whose arguments typify the academics has expressed views which may be summed up by accepting that progress within Igbo language development is possible only as language development is given sound, scientific footing by the work which academics, linguists and lecturers do in providing Igbo language with its guiding norms and workable producing terminology. Professor Achebe, as someone whose arguments give voice to the somewhat opposing side taken up by writers, novelists, and producers of popular works in literature, desires a situation of unbridled production of literature, and other derivative works in whatever dialect suits the writer/producer, without the constraints and mental blocks of a proposed scholastic orthography which he (and others) felt to be too restrictive and at best, lopsided by most. This lopsidedness which he touched on within the context of his Odenigbo lectures, given in 1999—Taa bụ gbo, echi di ime—went right back to the beginnings of language development among the Igbo to lay the blame and charge of unprofitable and unwarranted experimentation in the language at the footsteps of late Archdeacon Dennis—the producer of the Union Igbo holy bible—and all those 15

Roman Catholic Mission Church Missionary Society (more generally, Protestant Missions) 17 In Dr Dmitri Van den Berselaar’s research paper, thesis, In Search of Igbo Identity: Language, Culture and Politics in Nigeria, 1900-1966, some account of the sometimes bitter arguments involving Ọgbalụ and SPLIC members as well as with other individuals drawn from the wider government; is given. 16


like him whom he felt would do best by the language, by leaving it alone. The floodgates of literature production are still not opened to the mass of Igbo readers and writers—together labelled the producers and consumers of their own literate culture, as a result of the ennobling and disenchanting features of either set of arguments, depending on the views any one person takes. Therefore, if production of literatures is the yard stick by which all real progress is to be measured then the situation still leaves much wanting. A resetting of the clock - Odenigbo 1999? When in 1999, Professor Achebe speaking as part of his address to Odenigbo congregants, denounced the state of affairs with the Igbo language, almost without acknowledging what progress had been made within the Igbo language up until that point with the orthography and it’s near found respectability with the elite professors and the sort of hope, the existence of bodies like Ahịajọkụ and Odenigbo gave the Igbo; he was putting his hand very near the quick for ndị Igbo. To appear to denounce standard Igbo at that time was firstly a very brave thing to do, but Professor Achebe was not speaking tongue in cheek at all. His lecture, given to many of the Igbo elite gathered, revealed serious misgivings about it. He went right back to the beginnings of the last century to speak about the Union Igbo project which many now agree was a mis-experiment in our language led by the skilled and politically astute Dennis who gave Igbo their best known and in a way a most vaunted possession in the shape of their Igbo bible – Bible Nsọ. What is most instructive is that respondents and reporters from the conference-forum came away with a summary of Professor Achebe’s message which to them was tantamount to a condemnation of standard Igbo. The dearth of literature in Igbo according to Achebe was symptomatic of a much deeper thing—an attitude of disrespect and disregard brought to it by most of those who tinker with it—with the first seeds sown by that Union Igbo mis-experiment. Union Igbo, had affected in Achebe’s view not just the spoken language but more importantly, the written language; and it is part of the thesis of this paper that Igbo language writing cannot be compared to the state of its spoken language. This is not by itself a surprising thing, speech in human history predates writing and anthropologists inform through their studies that speech had helped human evolution for eons of time before writing came along. Yet graphisation of language or writing which had happened in other cultures over indefinite lengths of time following an almost exclusively natural course, came to the Igbo in a different way; a way which did it little justice and which failed to treat its many dialects with enough respect.


Achebe’s lecture bears a full review, so that each person can make up their minds entirely about what was being proposed. At one point Achebe appears to wish that the makers of the first Igbo bible simply wrote in one dialect—as happened among the Yoruba, Igbo’s neighbours—and not as Dennis had done it using a pot-pourri of words borrowed from what he felt to be principal dialects in a haphazard fashion. This according to him caused Union Igbo language and the Igbo bible in particular to miss a major opportunity of becoming the head font or well springs from which all sorts of natural literature flowed. Natural, in the sense of being literature or language that flowed freely from all the people at once as opposed to being something that flowed haltingly, now and again, but only from the educated elite and other spirited individuals—a domain for doctors of letters, academics and professors and less for artists, poets and common writers from among the people. From that point in the beginning onwards, language and literature development became something given to leaders and committee forgers or as has been suggested, merely elitist as opposed to popular. It is this or either something akin to it that Alain Ricard, referred to in his book, The languages and literatures of Africa, when he wrote It is not a healthy situation when lecturers are the only critics and often the only writers, addressing a captive public of their own pupils. The Igbo literary milieu is a constricted one, controlled by a few linguists writing texts that they then add to the recommended reading list, for their own greater benefit and probably to the detriment of the literary language.18 Whereas, Achebe desired a situation where that milieu became less constricted but featured more rampant writing. Let’s repeat or cite here his oft repeated call for all to “give full and unfettered play to the creative genius of Igbo speech in all its splendid variety.” Yet he is not speaking of a freedom of ‘speech’ per se, he is more referring to a unfettered freedom which involves writing. Nonetheless the general milieu may be described as one which has always shown this tendency, for the academics to tilt against the artists and vice versa.


Already cited, Alain Ricard’s Litteratures d'Afrique noire (The Languages & Literatures of Africa)(1995), Pg 86


Writing Systems, the medium, new media and the opportunities of meta-media Yet a freedom at the presses to turn ‘Liebling’s’ famous dictum around somewhat would only be unrestricted to those who own or have access to the presses. Another reason, explaining the dearth of literature may be due to the lack of ready or popular tools in the hands of the willing. Doodles and scribbles in Igbo language may have been made by many Igbo men and women in their note pads but unless these articles can somehow leap the boundaries and borders of their ruled exercise sheets and become reformatted by a type-writer for the newspaper, magazine, television screen or now the computer screen, they will remain inaccessible and unknown. Thus it becomes that sooner or later, attention will turn to various media and the use or not which Igbo men and women sought to make of technology, for writing their language. The word technology itself is a cipher which in this consideration of literature must mean a way of doing things or a method of producing—literature—a method of writing. From the earliest doodles in the sand made by the Igbo in ‘Nsibidi’ and ‘Aka-agụ’, the people have sought to represent ideas graphically, even if these scripts were at first the preserve of initiates and charismatics within the culture. It is now known among the Igbo, that these writing systems or methods of writing are of similar rank and significance with any of the ancient writing scripts indigenous to Africa, the demotic and Meroitic writing of nilotic and eastern Africa for instance or the Vai scripts of Sierraleone and the capes. Today, these systems are being properly reclassified for study whereas they were largely overlooked by those who considered questions of literacy and writing in Africa at first. There are even whole modern experiments aimed at reviving Nsibidi particularly. The novel ideograms and ideographs made under such projects are visually appealing and are increasingly finding expression among the design community, put to ornamental use. Writing in the sand and on stone walls, gave way to pen on paper as soon as the missionaries arrived and turned their attention to communication with the natives for the purposes of teaching the gospel. There is general consensus that this is the mechanism by which the Roman or Latin script came to be ‘gifted’ to local communities in Africa as well as elsewhere. This gift led away from the use of ideographs for representing the language. Beginning with the appearance in 1863 of C.R Lpsius’ Standard Alphabet for reducing unwritten languages and foreign graphic systems to a Uniform Orthography in European Letters, the Romanisation of our writing systems has been an understood thing.


( was classed among thhe illiterate lannguages of Affrica and the world. w For thhat book, Ibo (Igbo) An orthogrraphy was giveen for the langguage though suggested throough the efforrts of Fatherr Schōn and thhe Bishop Sam muel Ajayi Croowther, as sugggested by the following graaphics

F 1 Fig

Fig 2

Immediatelly comparing this system abbove it is appaarent that no prrogram of diacritics (as we knnow it) had as yet been introoduced into thee language. Comppiling his systeem of words annd meanings ffor his Ibo-Ennglish dictionaary about 1911, Sir, Northhcote Withridgge Thomas in his h Anthropoloogical report on o the Ibo-speeaking peopless of Nigeria presented a graphed transsliterated mneemonic of the kind k which m maps the consonnants and

vowells of one languuage to their sounds and occcurrences in thhe words of annother languag ge, prefigguring the phon netic work of the International Phonetics Association. This T system shhown in schem matic form beloow:

Fig 3

showss vowels, conssonants and diigraphs appearring with diacrritics—dots annd dashes—cllosely resem mbling the situaation as it exissts today withiin the standardd Onwu orthoggraphy but wiith imporrtant differences. After refereence to Northccote’s system in print we foollow with anoother, drawn frrom the appeaarance in 1913 of Archdeacoon Dennis’ Igbbo Bible. Heree is how the saame text whichh appears previo ously from 18663 occurs in Dennis’ D Igbo.

F 4 Fig a The use of diacritics togeether with subbtle tone markss has begun too modify the appearance U Igbo, it must m be of the language. Regardless of thee caveats levieed against Dennnis and his Union women grew up u with this form of the lang guage and said thhat a whole geeneration of Iggbo men and w not knnowing its rueful history, leaarnt its style bby heart and addopted it for thheir presentatiions in what little l writing, which w was don ne. The gramm mar which sub bsequently devveloped was different. d When in 19 941, Professorr Ida Ward cloosely made herr proposals round the develo opment of a com mmon languagee, she also preesented a new orthography with w the follow wing alphabet..

Fig 5 graphy This paper has already reeferred to a coonversation sett out in her prooposed orthog a a tax officeer, which wouuld make fascinating readingg for every occurrring between a local chief and studennt of the ‘antiq quity’ of the Ig gbo language. Her proposal followed on closely c variouus internnational develoopments which h had some tim me earlier estaablished a propposed Internattional Africaan Alphabet orr script. This script s never reeally took off and a has sufferred the same faate as the proposed all Nigeriaan orthographhy which propoosed to use on ne system to reepresent all heer g to present m major problemss as languaages. That parrticular Nigerian project was always going Nigeriia has over 3000 tribal groupps, many of whhich have langguages of theirr own, althouggh those

languaages never beccame graphedd or written—aand some of thhese languagess are now all moribund, m if not extinct. In Proofessor Ward’s ideas we alsso see a plan to o rid the writteen forms of th he erstwhile c of all a diacritics annd diacritical m marks. Igbo characters In 1952, F.C Ogbalụ co-wrote, An inveestigation intoo the New Igboo orthographyy (which at me was Professsor Ward’s orrthography), taaking direct um mbrage with P Professor Warrd’s the tim proposals in which he largely queestioned why ccharacters which form part of the English h phonetic ms should be used u to represeent sounds in our o own writteen alphabet. Through T this book, you system glimpse astute arguuments made against a what seeemed to its writers w to be a particular p couurse of ment which didd not seem to fflow in the inteerests of the owning commuunities. languaage developm Chieff Ogbalụ accussed the purveyyors of Ward’ss schema and the t proposed changes c to thee m Igbo langguage-learning g easier for Eurropeans in orthoggraphy of desiigning it, to make circum mstances wherre the old orthhography was nnot somethingg which the ow wning communnities, that is, thee Igbo wished to set aside. A spirited camppaign to save our precious ddiacritics together with the diaagraphs was mounted m in and d through thiss book. Closelyy following onn 1952 was the SPLIC inspireed Onwụ orthhography introduced in 19611 which is the standard. It pproposed 36 leetters and gave suggestions s ass to form.

Fig 6 In additionn to setting outt the spellings,, a new vowel harmonisation scheme wass set out. d to make m the languaage sonorous. Held by somee to be a result of long Voweel harmony is designed observ ved sequencess of valid occuurrences of vow wel sounds wiithin the languuage and by otthers to be some advanced mim micry of foreiggn ideas, voweel harmony orr metaphony was w yet anotherr layer of

ideas which had to be taught through the school systems and to many older speakers and writers of the language who had never bothered with it before. This paper opted to present together, samples of developmental nodes along the writing of the language and how it has been represented from the very ‘beginnings’ till the present time. All without ever permanently leaving the ‘compositional space’ within the word processor or usurping the ‘desktop paradigm’ as we cropped, cut and pasted digitised or scanned material of the transposed media to which we had access. Information which had become encoded previously on paper using the percussion of inked-keys became commoditised for the ether and the electronic blank canvas. The washed out look of the cropped images lend a wistful museum-like quality to the presentation—when viewed on a computer screen. They confessedly, will not retain this effect when printed and might look like poorly taken photographs. Yet, it is this decision-making power of composition and again of rendition over the medium that the digitisation process offers fresh scribes of the Igbo language, who are urged to seize the space and start to put out new material. This is how Luke 6, 20-22 might be written by one such fresh scribe employing the new orthography: Luku Isi Isii, ama-okwu nke iri abụọ wee rue na nke iri-abụọ na abụọ O wee welie anya ya elu, lekwasị ụmụazị ya, wee sị: ngọzị dịịrị unu ndị ogbenye; nihi na ala-eze nke Chi na-eke bụ nke unu. Ngọzị ka unu dị, bụ ndị agụụ na-agụ ugbu a: a gaenyeju unu afọ. Ngọzị dịịkwara unu bụ ndị na-akwa akwa ugbu a, maka na unu ga-achị ọchị. Ngọzị dịnyere unu, mgbe ụmụ mmadụ na-akpọ unu asị, hụ unu iro, seso unu okwu, kewapụ onwe ha n’ebe unu nọ, nwekwaa oke ntaji anya n’ebe unu nọ; kọtọọ unu dịka ndị ọjọọ n’ihi m.

Many insightful or keen students of the Igbo language might be able to fault this piece of writing above. An obvious caveat or question that could be raised, would be why ‘Chi na-eke’ has been rendered non-traditionally. What is incontestable though is the ease with which this piece of writing has been produced within this word processor and we hope to highlight as part of this paper—the technology that affords such ease. All the previous contentions over stylisation concerns disappear in this new space. And if this disappearance of problems is overstating the case, at least the problems present handles,


which in turn offer a fair degree of control over them. The diacritics are no longer obtrusive. The technology and the new medium have contrived to support them. The unnatural underlining of Igbo text for emphasis, which rankled for a scholar like Professor Echeruo—because the presence of diacritics within the text demanded this—is set aside as such text may simply be emboldened or italicised (as above). The proofing process which previously involved costly type-setting and establishing the availability of fonts before any work gets sent to the printers for final production is favourably altered by this new found ‘freedom’ in the desktop space. Sometimes the work does not need to be printed at all—the new material can be produced and adapted completely for the Internet or wholly for onscreen presentation. This sudden happy marriage of the means of producing literature accurately and cheaply was not entirely accidental, but a number of fortuitous circumstances acted together to yield to the Igbo an opportunity which in this writer’s view, they must not as in times, past sit askance on. The Unicode Standard and Consortium The Unicode computing standard is an industry standard aimed at the evolution of universal character sets for the accurate representation of all the writing systems of the world. From its beginnings in about 1987, leaders from leading computing companies turned their attention to how to better adapt their products for other markets. Such products had to be truly international (able to solve a recognised need in the international community—that is, they had be desired by persons in far flung places) and they had to be adaptable—that is, while they retained this capacity to solve internationally conceived problems, they also had to have intra-national appeal—able to be loved and understood where possible in terms of the local languages and customs of the people they served. The Unicode standard was the result and these twin desirables; internationalisation19 and localisation20 became the watch words of the consortium which supports the standard. On its website the consortium tries to pose the question: What is Unicode? True to its charter, it fashions rather technical answers by way of essays which respondents, enthusiasts and volunteers submit to its website in local languages. 19

Internationalisation abbreviated under I18 N; is a process of designing software (or hardware) in a flexible manner such that it becomes an easy task to adapt or localize to another country with different languages. Internationalisation also makes it possible to use more than one script on computers. 20

The process of adapting software (or a product) such that it confirms to the expectations and conventions of a specific country or region. This often includes translating menus and dialogs into the target language. Often abbreviated under L10N [These definitions are from Ken Lunde’s glossary of terms in his book, CJKV Information Processing]


In Igbo then; Ginị bụ Yunikodu?

Yunikod(Unicode) na-eme ka enwee ọnụ-ọgugụ pụrụ iche maka mkpụrụokwu ọbụla. Na-agbanyeghị ụdị kọmputa eji ede ihe. Na-agbanyeghị ụdị nka-ụzụigwe ma ọbụ programụ eji ede. Na-agbanyeghị ụdị asụsụ mmadụ nwere. N'ịkpa isiokwu, kọmputa dum, ma ọ bụ igwe-mgbakọ-omekọba ọbụla, bụ naanị ọnụ-ọgụgụ ka ha ji emepụta ihe. Ha na-ejigide mkpịsị okwu n'onwe ha nakwa mkpụrụ-okwu ndị ọzọ site n'itụnyere ha ọnụ-ọgụgụ n'otu n'otu.Tutu ụwa echepụta Yunikod(Unicode) n'atụmatụ, e nwere ọtụtụ ụdị atụmatụ ndị ọzọ di iche iche eji ọnụ-ọgụgụ na-ede kama o nweghị otu n'ime atụmatụ ndị a nwezuru mkpụrụ-okwu eji eme edemede n'asụsụ mba dum. N'iji we maa atụ, ndị mba Yurop dịkọd’ọnụ n'onwe ha jiri atụmatụ ole na ole na-akwado ma deekwa asụsụ ha dị iche iche. To continue the essay or to see the essence of Unicode explained in multiple languages visit,

Desktop Publishing (DTP)

Under this heading are placed whole crops of new technology which appeared rather auspiciously from around the last decade of the previous century with refinement in techniques and products that have continued unabated till date. From about 1985 products began to appear which gave users fantastic ability to control the layout of a blank electronic page or elements on a page and to print out a finished design or other work, crisply on paper with clear resolution. Nor was output desired to paper alone. Output could just as easily be adapted for the screen. Aldus CEO, Paul Brainerd coined the term ‘desktop publishing’ for marketing one such early product which his company had developed—PageMaker. This cadre of products was massively affordable as opposed to the high-end exorbitantly priced photo-type setting equipment of the day. Today’s word processors rival the older desktop publishing software in power, so that the distinction between word processing and desktop publishing is blurring constantly, but the good news for our perspectives as engaged Igbo writers and publishers is that coupled with the magic of Unicode, these systems recognise or can recognise diacritics bringing the writing system closer still to us and obviating the need to depend on the printer at press time to add our diacritics. In modern browsers, in the DTP applications, in common word processors bundled in together with


Macs and PCs, diacritics are recognised through making soft modifications to the systems with which one may be working. Keyboard Layouts, software, the open source movement There are a number of products and systems which are on general release aimed at giving greater aid and facility to writers and publishers who wish to produce indigenous writing, involving diacritics on their systems. Commercial products from Tavultelsoft such as Keyman Desktop have ruled the roost in this regard for the Igbo. Also, in recent times virtual desktop products (or better named web-top products, as they properly require access to the internet) have appeared. These function as outfitted schematic applications which make use of a user-interface; and as virtual keys are depressed, characters appear within the browser. The resultant sentences are then cut and pasted into the various targeted applications or documents. On the products page of the Unicode Consortium maybe found listed, products (some of them free) which support the Unicode Standard and therefore by extension would support the production of Igbo language characters, and diacritics with cursory support for tone marks. Instead of input methods, another approach has been to download wholesale fonts ready-made and designed for input directly into target applications. Font designers and foundries also started making fonts that were particularly germane to the type-reproduction of African languages. The Arial Unicode MS family of type-faces affords easy ubiquity on most computer systems and will yield beautifully produced writing, with diacritics perfectly balanced and in order. Lucida Grande which forms the default font on the leading social networking platform, Facebook for instance, is another beautiful font which has the same characteristics for producing Igbo writing. Doulos Sil and Gentil have also gained a reputation of being particularly supportive of African language writing. One goal of this paper was to make a summary of the various methods that exist and what systems; used for modifying textual input or ‘typing’ to produce Igbo writing. This section of the paper will comprise a cursory summarised listing of such methods. The Chief input method discussed will be Oge Nnadi’s Nigerian Keyboard Layout— NKL, for short; which modifies characters on various flavours of Windows Computers or PC’s to produce characters and letter forms used equally in the Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa language. This feature of the keyboard layout, in supporting Nigeria’s 3 main languages has earned it the epithet Nigerian Keyboard Layout. His layout tool affords the best ease in producing those characters


bearing diacritics within the language. A ‘workshop’ of the method is produced through schematic pages at the end of the paper, showing how to outfit Windows computers to produce Igbo characters with ease; which method is fairly homogenous using operating systems from Windows XP through Vista to Windows 7. The method has not yet been tested on Windows 8. The site,, hosts a keyboard layout for typing the characters in the Onwu orthography (in addition to those of Hausa and Yoruba). This keyboard layout differs from those of Kasahorow and Keyman Desktop in that typing a character with a diacritic requires holding down the AltGr key and pressing a letter. e.g. ọ can be written with the key combination, AltGr+o. The others relied on complex key presses and schemes where dead keys21 are depressed first before the diacritic-bearing character is hit. Kasahorow’s application comes closest to the same ease requiring that the Alt-gr, key is depressed before or after the target letter-character is pressed to make the required alteration. This in practice affects the compositional process just a little bit as writers compose Igbo text directly and therefore concedes the best use or ease of use to Oge Nnadị’s product. Oge Nnadị’s modification also affords rudimentary support for tone-marking (which for the Igbo) has settled around the present convention22 of ̀—the grave accent ́—the acute accent The Nigerian Keyboard Layout was created using Microsoft's Keyboard Layout Creator [1]; the keyboard layout creator is a free graphical tool that allows one to create, preview, and package keyboard layouts. Similar software is available for creating keyboard layouts on OSX [2], and Linux [3].

21 22

Dead keys are those keys which yield no visible output on the screen, when depressed. The mid-tone ̄ accent is in abeyance without consistent agreement on how to employ it just yet.


In Oge’s words: his tool to scraatch my own ittch: I was find ding it hard to converse abouut the Igbo I created th language online because typing any chharacter with diacritics d requuired me to opeen the m find the appropriate a character, copy it, i and paste itt into the docuument I was character map, preparing. After I'd creatted the Nigeriaan Keyboard Layout, L writinng about Igbo became b h was that others would also be encouuraged to expreess much moree natural; my hope themselvess in Igbo accurrately, rather than t resorting to the Englishh alphabet equ uivalents of Igbo wordss. [1] htttp:// [2]httpp://scripts.sil.o org/cms/scriptts/page.php?siite_id=nrsi&id d=ukelele [3] htttps://github.coom/simos/keyb boardlayoutedditor

So then, in showy languaage: cave and rock painting, gave way to etchings on sttone and doodlees in the mud,, which for thee Igbo leapt rigght over papyyri to beget thee triplets: pen, ink and paper which gave way w to the typeewriter with itts keys, inks annd ribbons—aat first mechannical, later becom ming electronicc. The typewrriter never reallly disappeared. It morphed and reappeareed in the lap off new apparatu us welded to an n immediate ffeedback systeem in the shappe of a monitorr along with a suite of otherr applications that did any ppunter’s biddinng as long as tthe right inspirration was presennt. These, togeether with the idiom of pixeels—a new kinnd of ink—em mploying virtuaal bottles that neever ran out as long as electtricity was appplied and the system s was boooted; approacched close to the people as new w presses and new power. Yet how accessiblee are the new presses and aaspects of thee new computting power? The onward march of tecchnology is ussually inexorab ble as new devvices come onn stream he major tech and a informatioon technologyy companies neever let up thee pace of produuction. The and th supply y curve in economics wouldd usually pushh the price of goods g down ennsuring that more m of a given basket of gooods would be purchased p to eequate the leveels of demand to the rate of supply. The shheer economiccs of productioon and the inccidence and appplication of M Moore’s law23 mean that more powerful p systeems end up inn the hands of consumers at cheaper and ccheaper rates. Yet, under


Mooore’s law contaains the postulaate that compuuting systems, technology t (specifically CPU U’s or Centraal Processsing Units) will inccrease in (double their) powerr, efficiency annd effectiveness every 18 month hs. Yielding mo ore powerful co omputing unitss and devices per p time, whichh are then sold on more and more m at cost-effeective and/or cheaper c rates. S See alternative definitions in M Merrien Webstter’s diction nary.

what is usually termed the ‘digital divide’ whole communities can find themselves cut off from the benefits of technology. The digital divide has received amplification within other studies and since the present study is not occupied directly with this phenomenon or problem, only passing reference is paid to it. Yet as has been noted, new studies and surveys show that urban centres, schools and businesses are desirous to make their environments capable of supporting the ICT aspirations of their customers, students and employees, when they initiate or institute programs of ICT awareness, ICT courses or employee training in making use of information technology. The software economy also favours knowledgeable individuals when they eschew proprietary technology to take advantage of open-source software programs for meeting their computing needs. The Linux Operating system, which enjoys a world wide reputation of being ‘free and adaptable’, has seen increasing use and adoption in Africa, being traditionally a continent that has suffered under the phenomena of the digital divide. There is even evidence of the presence and availability of knowledge tools changing the social demographics. In at least one study24 we found, the presence of ICT facilities are shown to influence rural-urban migration choices for young graduates and other young persons when they decide to accede permanently to towns which can boast healthy and competent information and communications technology systems and eschew others. Nor is this evidence of change limited to the ‘desktop space’ alone. Nigeria is a dynamic society and in the centres of major cities, western television programs, magazines (online and off it) and other broadcasts (complete with advertising) are streamed live to audiences who live in them and who even enjoy subscriptions to these services. Through these media, there is near direct and constant everyday exposure to the new ICT products available and many persons immediately beset their friends and contacts living abroad in various ‘diasporas’ with requests to help them procure the new products. This process is happening all at once over the country, and so it is also a true for the south-eastern parts of it where the Igbo language is spoken—with which our study is concerned. In this way a good number of persons have found themselves in possession of the latest smart phones and tablet devices with which they communicate online with their friends (like over social networks), write new manuscripts and otherwise put out other cultural content ‘live’ over the global network. The blackberry model of smart phones, at first glance (by cursory inspection and by the reports of correspondents) appears to be the device of choice among the local populations in these 24 Influence of ICT in the Rural-Urban Migration in Owerri Zone of Imo State, Nigeria, occurring as part of the Journal of Information Technology Impact, vol. 11, No.1, pp. 51-58, 2011 by Elochukwu Ukwandu and Sylvanus Iroh, Evan Enwerem University Nigeria.


places already referred to but these haven’t got local language support built in and communication is therefore carried on in pidgin English, English language and in the half short-hands which incorporate local writing of the languages without paying proper regard to the rules of orthography. Products from Apple and Google are popular as well but not as successful as the blackberry; i-phones and i-pads are known but these are not being keenly used at the moment (although some use is noted). Phones based on the Android operating system are popular but again, use is not widely reported. Samsung as a company supporting Android technology is competing with others in the Nigerian market to win market share away from RIMs blackberry flavour of devices. Microsoft’s latest initiative, co-engaged in with Nokia is another one to be noted in this regard. These companies and products are present in some fashion competing for the patronage of the customer base who cannot be described in any terms other than ‘very keen’. This picture presents yields an unprecedented opportunity to policy makers and planners in the country; particularly to the commissioners of/for ministers for education, information, communication and other policy makers charged with planning strategy for their regions to lobby these ICT companies to make their systems compliant with localisation and internationalisation stipulations of the Unicode consortium for instance and to ensure that they offer local language support to the customers whose individual custom is sought and who will get to use these products to produce cultural content including works in local languages (or the Igbo language). Policies which support local app and program developers and other content providers may be mooted and given support at the grassroots level to ensure that African and / or indigenous languages are not left in the lurch. This is one aspect of what it means to begin to close the digital divide.

Workshops and Guides At this point in the study we summarise the input methods for producing Igbo language on modern computing systems and provide guides and templates for using or adapting these methods on users’ systems. Android Systems On the Android flavour of computers (tablets, chrome OS and smart phones), you can do little better than installing the Multi-Ling Keyboard. This system as at press time is still free being supported by believers in the system and other free-will donations for this purpose. This app (little application) installs an Igbo keyboard (and two other Nigerian languages) and makes it easy to


install the Igbo language characters which bear diaciritics, ụ ṅ ị ọ and a means of adding the currency symbol, ₦ without launching a graphics editor on these systems. This system is free and users pay no money. The developer, Han Honso lives in the USA, where he keeps developing. If you want to bolt on this keyboard, use the link below to add it on.

On Windows Systems (Desktops, Laptops and Notebook computers)

You can do no better than to install on these flavours of operation system: XP, Vista, and Windows 7, Oge Nnadị’s snap-type executable (a very small file size) which will fit a keyboard file and an input system that will cause a modification of key strokes and characters or fonts on the system used to produce the characters, ụ, ṅ, ị, ọ and by employing an advanced keystroke add on the currency symbol ₦, or Naira sign which all occur as part of Igbo language writing. Oge Nnadi’s method till date has the advantage of being the easiest method of the kind we have seen and have been writing about. It has the added advantage of being without cost to the public. Oge Nnadi is a computer programmer and shares his living between Nigeria, United Kingdom and the United States. This correspondent has also modified Oge’s essential product and source code to extend his system to add other writing marks, dingbats to support my own cultural and literature production in Igbo language and can attest to its ease of use and adaptability. To begin installing this method for Windows computers please visit: The full text of Chinụa Achebe’s Things Fall Apart was produced in readable Igbo language using Oge Nnadị’s method on a Windows 7 computer. This effort was undertaken by .

Uzoma Nwaekpe 25 He has graciously provided me with a full chapter of his work, for inclusion with this one and we do this as part of the appendages for this paper.

The NKL and Spin-offs 25 As at press time the full text of a letter received from Professor Achebe’s (whose unkind death could not have been foreseen as this paper was being prepared in 2013) United Kingdom publishers declining publication of the full text of Ebube Dike appears in the appendices.


Oge’s essential work has occasioned spin-offs making use of his source code. The Igbo Publishers edition and the Ugorji Implementation are both special modifications or editions of Oge’s NKL made to answer different needs. Of the two spin-offs, Ugorji’s ideas occasion the greater interest because it is based on recommendations Ugorji suggested in a research paper: In his paper The proposed Democratic Igbo Orthography, maazị Ugorji suggested the below matrix of alphabets, making a total of 44 characters, being a mind-boggling 9 letters/characters more than the standard orthọgraphy proposed. a







































Reasons Maazi Ugọrji gave include having a character set that catered to all or most dialects of the Igbo language. As an experiment, this keyboard has been implemented and responses are sought from the language community. A set of files making the keyboard available to users of the Windows Operating System can be sent to users and respondents who send a simple e-mail to [email protected], to opt in to tests.

Apple Macintosh systems, (generally apple computers with the OSX operation system).

Kasahorow is a Ghanaian company specialising in bringing modern computer textgeneration to African writers and text specialists. Fixes and installations exist, for more than a few African languages. Igbo is among such supported languages—and on Windows and Macintosh systems. The Macintosh case is recommended by the writers of this paper, as for the Windows case, Oge Nnadi’s system is really easier.


To make use of a guide which teaches the method please access, the link sponsored by the online Igbo Language promotions group: Igbo Fonts and Typography at: The steps can be followed with relative ease to install Kasahorow’s product for the Macintosh, to be able to produce ụ, ṅ, ị, ọ with ease on the modified keyboard and input method. The currency symbol, ₦ can be added using the in-built character palette on these systems. Iphones and Ipads

Iphones and Ipads currently do not have a native Igbo Language keyboard which exists for them or apps which may be used for the purpose (as in the parallel case for Android – based phones) and comments which were made with regard to blackberry phones, apply also in this case; and policy makers might canvass makers and importers of these phones for our markets to take up advocacy with the parent company Apple, in this matter of providing a means of creating content with African languages in general and Igbo language in particular. However a work-around exists for this flavour of phone and its cousin of the wider-screen (ipad); by which Igbo language characters can be produced. This happens by bolting-on an extra keyboard which contains the characters that are incidental to Igbo Language production. Incidentally on every iphone / ipad, there exists a method to add on the Vietnamese input language via each device’s settings and controls menu. The option to add the ‘Tieng Viet’ and or the ‘dau dau’ keyboards might present themselves. These keyboards carry the option of adding the characters ụ, ị ọ. You would have to change back to a Latin based keyboard to get the ṅ or n̄ and so between these two keyboards, Igbo writing on these systems is possible. The characters themselves are accessed through the long key depress method with which users are familiar on these systems. The Vietnamese language is part of the Austroasiatic language family and is the official language of the people of Vietnam and of about three million Vietnamese residing elsewhere.26 Much of its vocabulary is borrowed from the Chinese and during the course of its development it was influenced by French through French colonial rule. Its alphabet today is a Latin-based one very similar to the Igbo Language in its employment of diacritics and the tone marks and other dingbats.



Lessons from the East?

A lesson from this other language is that development should run its course regardless of the multiplicity of dialects which is also the case for the Vietnamese. The owners, teachers, writers in that culture have taken impressively to filling the libraries of the world with books, tracts and other literature and literary content not minding the occurrence of dialects and accents in different parts of their country, a situation which has a parallel with the Igbo. The lesson is that the occurrence of dialects need not stand in the way of a thorough-going literate culture. It is to address ourselves to the available tools, the state of technology, the bridges and directions across the digital divide and to create awareness about what is possible that our paper has been written. We commend it to your intellects and to literate Igbo men and women.


Summary and Conclusion

Igbo language is well spoken already by many millions in south-eastern Nigeria. It is also a second or a third language for many in diasporas, resident mainly in countries of Europe and of North and Southern America (although an Igbo man or woman, might well be found in every country of the world). Whereas it is spoken employing one of her many dialects, it has not always been written with as much ease. This paper began to discuss the perceived problems of having many dialects and the questions which have sometimes dogged the footsteps of developers and enthusiasts of Igbo Language. The paper acknowledges the impact of the proposed standard or otherwise official orthography and discussed its failure to yield a flood of literatures in the Igbo Language. This might be due to derisive comments of detractors or to a lack of ready tools. The paper gives a short synopsis of writing the Igbo language from when the very first efforts began to be made till date and discusses how writing the language is best when it is a marriage of the best minds with the best technologies (implied). The digital divide as an obvious problem or phenomenon, is mentioned and glossed over. The paper presents the available free methods, nascent and freely occurring with today’s modern technologies and devices for producing Igbo Language works. A summary of the methods have been given as they exist in 2013 together with an emphasis on Oge Nnadị’s work with the NKL Keyboard, since Windows computers are the brand that the Igbo are most familiar with today, in the environments and communities where they are found.27 Next, is presented in its appendices, use (at least one usage) which Oge’s method has been put to in producing a complete translation of Professor Chinụa Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and as permission has not been given for publication an excerpt from Uzoma Nwaekpe’s Ebube Dike is presented in terms of a single chapter.

The insights (if any) of this paper together with the technologies it highlights are commended to Igbo men and women.All hyperlinks and links to textual matter on the Internet were working, live and active at press time. All errors belong to me, the stenographer. :-)


No statistics or authority is quoted for this. It merely is a feature of common observable experience.


Bibliography / Other reading 1. An investigation into the New Igbo orthography By F.C Ogbalu, 1952. 2.

Anthropological report on the Ibo-speaking peoples of Nigeria, 1911, By Northcote Withridge Thomas.

3. Chinese, Japanese, Korean & Vietnamese Computing, C J K V Information Processing, Second Edition, 2009, O’Riley Media, By Ken Lunde. 4. Ibo dialects and the Development of a Common Language, 1941, By Ida.C.Ward (Professor). 5.

Igbo-English Dictionary, 1998, By Professor Michael Echeruo

6. Igbo-English Dictionary, G.E Igwe, 1999, ISBN: 9780304177. 7. In Search of Igbo Identity: Language, Culture and Politics in Nigeria, 1900-1966 By Dr Dmitri Van den Berselaar 8. Litteratures d'Afrique noire (The Languages & Literatures of Africa) By Alain Ricard, 1995 . 9. Ọkọwa-Okwu, IGBO-ENGLISH-ENGLISH-IGBO, 1962 By F.C Ogbalụ. 10. Publishing Text In Indigenous African Languages by Conrad Taylor. A workshop paper by Conrad Taylor for the Bar CAMP Africa UK conference in London, 2009. 11. Standard Alphabet for reducing unwritten languages and foreign graphic systems to a Uniform Orthography in European Letters, 1863, By C. R.Lpsius. 12. The Development of Written Igbo Literature By Professor Chukwuma Azuonye, From the selected works of Chukwuma Azụonye January 1992, University of Masachusetts Boston. 13. The Rise of the Igbo Novel By Professor Ernest Emenyonụ, Ibadan Oxford University Press, 1978, ISBN: 9781540230 (Nigeria), 0195754776 (Outside Nigeria).


14. Towards An Igbo Literary Standard, Kegan Paul International London, Boston and Melbourne, 1983.

Other Reading 1. African Languages in a Digital Age, challenges and opportunities for indigenous language computing, paper/book By Don Osborn 2. Unicode Explained, O’Riley Media 2006, By Jukka K. Korpeia.


Appendices Appendix I

"EBUBE DIKE" (An Igbo interpretation of Chinua Achebe's classic novel: Things Fall Apart, by Odengalasi Uzoma Nwaekpe Esq.) Nke abụọ Ka Okonkwọ menyụchara mpanaka ya ma dinara n’elu agada ya, ọ nụrụ ụda Ogele onye nzi ozi ka ọ na-agami n’ime abalị ahụ nke dara jii. ‘Gome! gome!! gome!!’ ka Ogele ya na-ada, o wee zie ozi ya, ma kụchikwa Ogele ya ọzọ. Onye nzi ozi na-ekwu, na a chọrọ ka ndi nwoke Umuofa nile pụta n’ọma ahịa ha, n’ụtụtụ echi. Okonkwọ chere ihe kpatara ozi a, n’ihi na ọ ma nke ọma, na oku a akpọrọ ha a gbaghị aka. O nwere ka o si nyopụta ihe aghọm pụtara ihe n’olu onye nzi ozi, ọ ka na-anụkwa ụda olu ya, ka ọ na adiwanye nta, site n’ịdị anya ya. Abalị ahụ dara jii, o nweghị mkpọtu ọbụla a na-anụ n’ime ya. Eziokwu bụ na mkpọtu a naghị adị n’abalị, ewepụ ụbọchị egwu onwa. Abalị bụ oge a na-atụ egwu, kama ọ dịghị mfe ịkọwa isi egwu a na atụ n’abalị. Nke a na-emetụ nmadụ nile, ọbụna ndi dimkpa isi kara kara. A na-agwa ụmụaka ka ha hapụ ifụ opi n’abalị n’ihi egwu ndi nmụọ ọjọọ. Ụmụ anụ ọhịa naemerụ nmadụ ahụ, na-adị kwa njọ karịa mgbe chi jiri. Anaghị akpọ agwọ aha ya n’abalị, n’ihi na e chere na ọ ga-anụ ma a kpọọ ya agwọ, ihe a na-akpọ ya bụ eriri.N’abalị ahụ, mgbe olu onye nzi ozi na-agami n’ebe dị anya, ụwa dara jii, ụdị ịda jii dara ụda, pụtara ihe karịa site na mkpu otu olu nke imerime ụmụ ahụhụ dị n’ọhịa. Abalị egwu ọnwa na-adị iche. A ga na-anụ olu obi ụtọ nke ụmụaka ndi n’egwur egwu na mbara. Ndi tolitere etolite, na-anọ abụọ abụọ n’ebe zoturu ezo ntakịrị, na egwu egwu nke ha,ndi agadi na-esi otu a cheta mgbe ha dị n’okorobịa. Dịkandi Igbo na-ekwu, mgbe ọnwa na-agba, njem na-agụ onye ngwọrọ. Kama abalị nke a dara jii, ma jie kwa ezigbo nji. N’ime obodo itolu nke Umuofia,onye nzi ozi ji Ogele ya na-agwa ndi nwoke nile kaha bịa zaa oku a n’ụtụtụ echi ya.


Okonkwọ dina n’agada ya n’eche ụdị ihe mgberede kpatara oku a. O chere na ọ ga abụ okwu gbasara ịlụsị otu n’ime ndi agbata obi ha agha. Okonkwọ a dighị atụ agha egwu, ọ bụ dimkpa na-akpa ike, ọ na-eso kwa n’ịlụ agha mgbe ọbụla. Ọ dịghị ka nna ya Unoka, onye nke egwu ihụ ọbara na-atụ. N’agha ikpeazụ ndi Umuofia lụrụ, Okonkwo bụ onye mbụ gbutara ma bulata isi nmadụ. Nke a bụ isi nmadụ nke ise ọ na-egbuta, na-agbanyeghi na ọ ka bụ okorobia. N’oge ememe pụru iche, dịka mgbe a na-akwa oke Amadi, Okonkwọ na-eji okpokoro isi nmadu nke mbụ o gbutara wee ṅụa nmanya ngwọ. N’ụtụtụ, ọma ahịa ha juru n’ọnụ. Ndi nwoke ruru puku iri n’ọnụ ọgụgụ gbakọrọ, ha na-ekwurịtara onwe ha okwu n’olu dị ala. Mgbe emechara, Ogbuefi Ezeugo guzoro n’etiti ha wee bekuo ha ugboro anọ: ‘Umuofia Kwenụ!!!’ mgbe ọbụla o bekuru ha, ọ chere ihu n’otu mpaghara oke nzukọ ahụ, otu mgbe ahụ ka ọ na-eweli aka ọ fụchiri afụchi elu, dịka onye na-enu ifufe aka. Ndi ikom puku iri zara ‘yaa!!!’ ugboro anọ. E wee nwee ịda jii zuru oke na mbara. Ogbuefi Ezeugo bụ nwoke na-ekwu okwu nke ọma, ọ bụ ya ka a na-ahọpụta ikwu okwu n’ụdị ọgbakọ dị ka nke a. Ọhụrụ aka n’isi awọ ya, ma dọtụ ajị ahụ ọnụ ya aka, o doziri akwa ya, nke a mara ka o bee ya na ngụ. ‘Umuofia kwenụ!!!’ Ogbuefi Ezeugo bekuru ha nke ugbo ise, ọha nmadụ gbakọrọ wee zaa ya n’olu ike. N’otu ntabi anya, dika onye nmụọ na-ama, o setịpụrụ aka ekpe ya, we rụọ ya ebe Mbaino, ma site n’etiti eze ọ tachirir atachi, nke na enwuke enwuke gwa ha sị; ‘ụmụ anụ ọhịa a atụghị egwu igbu nwa ada Umuofia.’ O hudatara isi ya, taa ikikiri eze, ma hapụ ka ntamụ iwe nke e jidere aka gabiga n’etiti ọha nmadụ a. Mgbe o bidoro ikwu okwu ọzọ, iwe nke nọ ya n’ihu mgbe gara aga pụrụ, n’ọnọdụ ya, o nwere ụdị ọchị ha hụrụ ya n’ihu, nke dị njọ karịa iwe. O ji olu nke mwute ọbụla na-adịghị wee kọọrọ ha ka nwa ada Umuofia jiri gaa ahịa na Mbaino, na otu ha si gbue ya. Ọ gwara ha na nwanyi ahụ e gburu egbu bụ nwunye Ogbuefi Udo, ọ rụrụ otu nwoke nọ ya nso aka, onye nke hudatakwara isi ya n’ala. Ọha nmadụ nile wee tie oke nkpu nke iwe na agụụ ịkwafu ọbara. Ọtụtụ ndi kwuru okwu, n’ikpe azụ, ha kpebiri ime ihe ka ha si eme ya na mbụ. E zipụrụ ozi nye Mbaino, ka ha họrọ Umuofia ịlụso ha agha, ma ọbụ ha a kpọnye Umuofia otu nwata nwoke na otu nwa agbọghọ na-amghị nwoke iji kwụọ ụgwọ nwanyi Umuofia ha gburu. Ndi agbata obi ha nile na-atụ ndi Umuofia egwu. Umuofia dị ike n’agha, dịkwa ike n’ime anwansị, ndi isi nchụ aja ha na ndi dibia ha bụ kwa ndi a na atụ egwu n’ime obodo nile gbara ha gburugburu. Ọgwụ agha ha nke ka sie ike dị ya site na mbido nke obodo ha. O nweghị onye ma mgbe ọgwụ agha ahụ pụtara ụwa, kama ha nile kwekọtara n’ihe pụtara ihe n’ọgwụ ahụ bụ agadi nwanyị nwere otu ụkwụ. Aha a kpọrọ ọgwụ ahụ bụ ‘agadi


nwanyi’, o nwere ebe ịchụ aja ya n’otu ebe a sụchara asụcha, n’etiti Umuofia. O nwee kwa onye ọbụla ji isi ike gafee ebe ịchụ aja ahụ ka chi jichara,ọ ga-ahụ agadi nwanyị ahụ ebe ọ naamịgharị. Ya mere ndi agbata obi ha ndi ihe ndi a doro anya na-atụ Umuofia egwu. Ha a gaghị kwa a luso Umuofia agha ma ha e bughị ụzọ chọọ imezi okwu ahụ. N’ikwu ezi okwu, Umuofia e nweghị ike ịga agha ma ọbụrụ na ihe ha na-azọ e zighị ezi, chi ha, bụ chi ọhụ ụzọ nke ugwu na ọgba ala aghaghị ịkwado ya tutu ha a lụso ndi ọbula agha. Kwa mgbe kwa mgbe ka chi ha gwarala ha sị ha e busola ndi ọzọ agha, ọbụrụ na Umuofia e geghị chi ha nti, a gaara emeri ha n’agha. Agadi nwanyi nke Umuofia agaghị alụ ọgụ nke ịta ụta. kama agha nke a Umuofia na-ekwu okwu ya bụ agha ziri ezi. Ndi iro ha ma kwa nke a. Ya mere, mgbe Okonkwọ ji nganga na nfụli elu nke onye ọbụla hụru anya, wee bata Mbaino dịka onye nnọchita anya nke Umuofia n’okwu agha a, e nyere ya nsọpụrụ na nkwanye ugwu pụrụ iche. Mgbe ụbọchị abụọ gasịrị, Okonkwo lọtara Umuofia, ha kpọnyere ya otu nwata nwoke gbara afọ iri na ise, na otu nwa agbọghọ na amaghị nwoke. Aha nwata nwoke ahụ bụ Ikemefuna, akụkọ mwuta gbasara ya ka a na-akọ n’Umuofia rue ụbọchị taa. Ndi ichie zukọrọ inụ ka Okonkwọ si gaa. Ha kpebiri, dịka onye ọbụla chere na nwata nwanyi ahụ ga-anọchi anya nwunye Ogbuefi Udo, nwata nwoke bụ nke Umuofia nile, n’ihi ya ha a chọghị ikpebi ihe banyere ya n’ọkụ ọkụ. Ha wee gwa Okonkwọ ka o lekọtara Umuofia Ikemefuna. Site otu a, Ikemefuna wee biri n’ụlọ Okonkwọ afọ atọ. Okonkwọ ji aka ike na-achị ezi na ụlọ ya. Ndi nwunye ya, nke ka nke nwunye nke ikpeazụ ya na ụmu ya nile na-atụ iwe ọkụ ya oke egwu n’enweghị nkwụsị. Eleghi anya, n’ime obi ya, Okonkwọ a bụghị ajọ nmadụ, kama o nwere egwu na-achị ndụ ya, egwu nke ọ na-atụ ọdịda ma ọbụ adịghị ike. Egwu a Okonkwo nwere dị omimi ma baa kwa ya n’ime obi karịa egwu a na-atụ ihe ọjọọ na chi ndi na agbanwe mgbe ọ masịrị ha, na anwansị, na egwu a na-atụ oke ọhịa na ike nke ihe okike, nke juputara n’ọchịchọ ime ihe ọjoo, nke nwere eze na mbọ kara aka na acha ọbara ọbara. Egwu dị n’ime Okonkwọ karịrị egwu ihe ndịa. Ọ bụghị egwu dị n’ezi, kama ọbụ egwu miri emi dị n’ime ya, ọbụ egwu nke ọ na-atụ onwe ya, ka aghara ihụ na ya dịka nna ya. Site na mgbe ọbụ nwata, ọkpọrọ e meghị nke ọma na adịghị ike nna ya asị, rue ugbua, ọ na-echeta ka o si hụsie anya mgbe nwata ya na ya n’egwu egwu gwara ya na nna ya bụ agbala. Otu a ka Okonkwọ si mara na agbala abụghị nanị aha ọzọ a na-akpọ nwanyị, kama ọ bụ kwa aha a na-akpọ nwoke n’echighị echichi ọbụla. Okonkwọ wee bụrụ onye otu ihe kacha dị ya mkpa na-achị, ya bụ ikpọ ihe ọbụla nna ya Unoka hụru n’anya asị. Otu n’ime ihe ndi ahụ bụ ịdị nwayọ, ọzọ bụ enweghị aka ọrụ.


Oge ọrụ ubi, Okonkwo na-anọ n’ubi ya site n’ube mbụ nke oke ọkpa, rue mgbe ọkụkọ labara ụra. Ọ bụ nwoke siri ike, Ọ na-anọ ọdụ tupu e wee hụ n’ike gwụrụ ya. Kama, ndi nwunye ya na ụmụaka ya adịghi ike dịka ya, ha na-ahụsikwa anya, ha enweghịkwa ike ikpesara Okonkwo n’ihi egwu ihe ọga eme ha. Nwa nwoke mbụ Okonkwo, Nwoye dị afọ iri na abụọ n’oge ahụ, kama o malitela i wetara nna ya obi ọkụ maka ume ngwụ nke ji nwayọ nwayọ na-abata ya n’ime. Otu a ka Okonkwọ hụtara ya, o wee jiri oke mba na ihe otiti n’esepụghị aka nọgide Nwoye, iji mee ka ọ gbanwee. Nwoye si kwa otu a n’etolite bụrụ nwata ihu ya juputara na mwute. Na Okonkwọ bụ ọgaranya pụtara ihe n’ezi na ụlọ ya. Ezi ya buru ibu, e ji kwa mgbidi aja ọcha buru ibu kpaa ya ọgba gburugburu. Obi ya nọ n’azụ ọnụ isi ala nani nke dị na mgbidi ahụ. Ndi nwunye atọ ya nwekwara ụlọ nke ha n’otu n’otu, ndi nke nọ n’ọnọdụ ibe ọnwa na azụ obi Okonkwọ. Ọ rụrụ ọba ji ya n’ọtu nkọ mgbidi aja ọcha ahụ, ogologo mpa ji dị ọtụtụ guzokwara n’ime ya, na-egosipụta n’ihe na-agara ya nke ọma. Na mpaghara ezi ya nke ọzọ, na nkọ ya nke chere ihu ebe ọba ya dị, ọ rụrụ ụlọ eghu ya, nwunye ya ọbụla rụkwara ntakịrị mkpuka ọkụkọ n’akụkụ ụlọ ya. Na nso ọba ya ka Okonkwọ nwere ụlọ agwụ ya, ebe Okonkwo dotara agwụ chi ya na nke nmụọ ndi nna nna ya ha. Ọ na efe ha ofufe site n’aja nke ọjị, nri na nmanya ngwọ, ma na-ekpekwara ha ekpere make ya onwe ya, ndi nwunye ya atọ na ụmụ asatọ ya. Ya mere, mgbe e gburu nwa ada Umuofia n’obodo Mbaino, Ikemefuna batara n’ezi n’ụlọ Okonkwọ. Ka Okonkwọ kpọlatara ya ụlọ n’ụbọchị ahụ, ọ kpọrọ nwunye ya nke mbụ, we kponye ya Ikemefuna. ‘Ọ bụ nwa nke obodo anyi nwe,’ ka ọ gwara ya, ‘ya mere, lekọta ya anya.’ ‘Ọ ga ebi n’ụlọ anyị?’ nwunye ya jụrụ. ‘Mee ihe a gwara gị nwanyị,” Okonkwọ tiri dịka egbe igwe, we bido isụ nsụ sị ya, ‘Kedụ mgbe ị ghọrọ otu n’ime ndi ichie nke Umuofia?’ Nne Nwoye wee kpọrọ Ikemefuna laa n’ụlọ ya, ọjụghị kwa ajụjụ ọzọ. Nwata nwoke ahụ bụ onye ezigbo egwu ji. O nweghị ike ịghọta ihe na-eme ya ma ọbụ ihe o metara. Kedụ ka ọ gaesi mara na nna ya so na ndi gburu nwa ada Umuofia? Ihe nanị ọma bụ na ụmụ nwoke ole na ole bịara n’ụlọ ha, jiri olu dị ala na-akparịta ụka, ha na nna ya, n’ikpeazụ, a kpọpụtara ya, kpọnye ya onye ọ na-amaghị ama. Nne ya kwara akwa nke ukwu, kama ihe na-eme ya gbagwọjuru ya anya, o nweghị kwa ike ịkwa akwa. Onye ahụ ọ na-amaghị, kpọọrọ ya, na otu nwata nwanyị, site n’obodo ha gaa ebe dị anya. Ha sitere mkpata ụzọ nke ọhịa ọhịa, ebe naanaghị ahụ nmadụ mgbe nile gaa ije ha. Ọ maghị onye nwata nwanyị ahụ bụ, ọ hụghịkwa ya anya ọzọ.




Appendix II A Letter from Professor Chinụa Achebe’s publishers (Reprinted with Uzoma Nwaekpe’s Esq. Permission)

Dear Uzoma Nwaekpe, Thank you for your kind message. We have spoken with Professor Achebe's Estate and I'm afraid there are no plans to authorise the publication or distribution of any Igbo translations of the author's work at this time. I am sorry to convey what I know will be disappointing news and thank you in advance for understanding. All best, Julie Julie de Chazal The Wylie Agency (UK) Ltd. 17 Bedford Square London WC1B 3JA Tel. 020-7908-5900 Fax. 020-7908-5901 The Wylie Agency LLC 250 West 57th Street, Suite 2114 New York, N. Y. 10107 Tel. 212-246-0069 Fax. 212-586-8953


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