DC Ekup-Nse for EjT Media 00:55 GMT 27 JULY 2022, Updated 20:23 GMT 27 JULY 2022
The ongoing codification of Ejagham Language attained a monumental milestone on 25 July 2022, when a contingent from Ejagham Tradition Centre (EjT) visited, formalized, and finalized the engagement of the eminent Linguist, Prof. Imelda Icheji Lawrence Udoh, as the Consultant for this project. The contingent was drawn from the Project Committee (ELCC) and its Technical Team at the Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages, University of Calabar (UniCal), Nigeria. The meeting was held at the office of the Consultant, Prof. Imelda – Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages, University of Uyo (UniUyo), Nigeria. The contingent consists of:
- Prof. Stella Ansa – ELCC Chairperson; and Head, Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages, University of Calabar
- Prof. Bassey Okon: Technical Team Coordinator
- Rev. Fr. Dr. Felix Ojong: ELCC Alternate Chairperson; and Coordinator, Ejagham Journal and Book
- Mr. Mfon Ekpe: Lead Member of the Technical Team
- D. C. Ekup-Nse: ELCC Secretary
The meeting host, Prof. Imelda Udoh, is a widely acclaimed Linguist of local and international repute. Among other outstanding feats, she is currently the National President, Linguistics Association of Nigeria (LAN), and Council Member, Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC). She is an alumnus of UniCal, where she equally lectured briefly before proceeding to become a Professor at UniUyo. Prof. Imelda is an accomplished Linguist who has studied and taught in America and Europe, among other institutions across Africa. She belongs to many professional bodies and has an admirable record of developing local languages in Akwa Ibom and Cross River States (See her full profile).
The key objective of this meeting was to formalize Prof. Imelda’s consultancy role for this project. Before the meeting, she had been working on the background by providing useful data and suggestions to her professional colleagues, who make up the project technical team, on how to codify the Ejagham Language through a systematic harmonization of all Ejagham dialects into a standard orthography, in line with all phonological principles.
The meeting began at about 11:13hrs GMT+1. It had two phases: Update and Consultancy requirements/Terms of Reference. The technical team provided a comprehensive update on the progress of the work. Having progressed with the phonemic analysis, the tech team displayed a sample spreadsheet of one of the completed Ejagham variants to illustrate the professional procedure adopted in this project. Prof. Imelda Udo expressed immense satisfaction with the quality of work while highlighting the basics of the next steps towards the launching of the final orthography. On the other hand, she briefed the team on her work requirements and affirmed her commitment to collaborate with the technical team to facilitate the success of this project across all phases henceforth.
Given her expertise and years of experience with similar projects, Prof. Imelda highlighted most challenges that this project is prone to. In the context of this project, the continued lack of financial support offers indescribable constraints to the operations of the team. More alarming is the huge logistics required to submit the finalized orthography to NERDC for their evaluation and physical three-day public workshop/launching of the orthography. In this upcoming event, all relevant stakeholders from the government, civil societies, traditional councils, and the public shall participate. Hence, generating the required funds remains a great challenge for EjT as the multiple appeals for sponsorship for this invaluable project has yielded no success.
Another possible challenge Prof. Imelda Udo highlighted was the acceptability of the standard Ejagham orthography by all Ejagham clusters given that the ongoing professional exercise is harmonizing all Ejagham dialects to produce an Ejagham language that will belong to all Ejagham Clusters. Responding to this, Prof. Stella Ansa and Rev. Fr. Dr. Ojong, assured the Consultant that all Ejagham Traditional Councils/Association in Nigeria and Cameroon are fully on board with this project; as EjT further publishes its Quarterly Reports to update the general public on the progress of this work. Prof. Imelda was pleased with the level of grassroots sensitization that EjT had carried out for this project.
The tech team coordinator Prof. Bassey Okon expressed immense gratitude to God for the capacity and enablement to work on this project. She thanked Prof. Imelda for accepting to consult for this project irrespective of EjT’s financial struggles. The overreaching benefits of this project to Ejagham people all over the world and for the unborn generations cannot be measured, as Prof. Bassey noted. As further elaborated in the project ‘Rationale’ developed by the technical team:
‘…the non-institutionalization of the Ejagham Language has a far-reaching effect on the survival of the language and the preservation of the ethnic identity of the Ejagham people. To this end, providing an orthography for the Ejagham Language will facilitate scholarly research and writing which could be carried out in the Ejagham Language, as people literate in the language will be able to document the history, culture, literature, and geography of the Ejagham people.’
The meeting ended at about 13: 34hrs GMT+1.