It is widely known that a Standard Ejagham Language Orthograph has been proposed by the project’s Technical Team. Nevertheless, to display astute professionalism to guarantee infallible proficiency, the Technical Team thus embarked on a strategic engagement with all Ejagham Traditional Councils/Association in Nigeria and Cameroon. The key objective of this engagement was to validate the proposed orthography that has been developed through a systematic analysis of all Ejagham dialects. These engagements with the traditional councils and Association of the different Ejagham clusters in Nigeria and Cameroon took place as follows:
Akamkpa, December 16, 2022 @Akamkpa Local Government Secretariate, Cross River state, Nigeria
Bakor, December 20, 2022 @Ishiborr Town Hall, Ogoja Local Government Area, Nigeria
Etung, December 21, 2022 @Efrayya, Etung Local Government Secretariate, Cross River State, Nigeria.
Njemaya, Ngunaya, & Obang (Ejagham in Cameroon): January 21, 2023 @Trinity Hotel, Limbe, Cameroon.
Qua: January 31, 2023, @Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages, University of Calabar, Nigeria.
The engagements in Ejagham Akamkpa, Bakor and Etung have been published. Four key activities framed these engagements:
The first was the Exhibition and advancement of the proposed orthography: Here, the consonant, vowel charts, syllable structure and tones were explained in detail to participants.
Another critical activity was the Ejagham language intelligibility test which sought to determine the degree of intelligibility between the different dialect varieties.
The third activity was the Ejagham Language Ecology and Endangerment survey: The objective of this survey was to redefine the language ecology and endangerment among Ejagham speakers in Nigeria and Cameroon. It is designed to extract data to implement a location-aware infrastructure that will function proactively in real-time to show the ecology of the language and precise visualization of its vitality status.
These engagements concluded with the overall feedback from participants. There was a general expression of gratitude to EjT and the Technical Team for initiating, facilitating, and sustaining this invaluable project. The very prospect of having a standard Ejagham language for use in learning institutions has birthed the euphoria of a new dawn across the Ejagham universe.
There were some uniquely significant moments during these engagements: The first was the visit of members of the Technical Team with all three Ejagham clusters in Cameroon under the umbrella of Eyumojock Traditional Association. This was also the first time that a contingent of EjT traveled to Cameroon to meet with their kith and kin. The traveling team from Nigeria consisted of Rev. Fr. Dr. Felix Ojong and DC Ekup-Nse. The moderator of the event was Sesseku (Iyamba) Hon. Dr. Agbornduku Eret (EjT VP, Ejagham in Cameroon), while the lead facilitator was Prof. Magdalene Bakume Nkongho (Project Consultant). The event took place at Trinity Hotel, Limbe, Cameroon.
This event was nothing short of a glorious reception and rapturous reunion. The chief host was HRH, Chief Moses Obenofunde. Speaking on behalf of Eyumojock Traditional Association, he expressed immense gratitude to EjT for initiating this project and for including all Ejagham Clusters in Cameroon. There was an outpouring of encomiums by other participants as well. Also, there was a unanimous decision by the Association to source for and provide a measure of financial support to the project. Participants were treated to a pre-event breakfast and post-event launch. Another highlight of the event was the voluntary donations by members of the Association which generated the sum of 57,000 CFA franc that was handed over to the contingent from Nigeria as support for their transportation fare back home.
Another important highlight of the function was the request by the Association for the registration of an EjT subsidiary (branch) in Cameroon to legitimise and ease the process of its engagements in the country. This request was informed by the necessity of engaging with relevant government agencies in the country to guarantee the use of the proposed Ejagham Language Orthography in schools. The meeting with Eyumojock Traditional Association remains the premier engagement that best encapsulates the euphoria of a new dawn for all Ejagham people across the globe.
On the Nigerian side, delegates from the College of Atoe – the Ndidem’s Council – and the Technical Team, led by the Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Calabar, Prof. Stella Ekpe, paid a courtesy visit to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academics, University of Calabar, Prof. Angela Oyo-Ita, and briefed her on the state of the project. In her remarks, the DVC commended the Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages for facilitating this project and described it as an exercise that will elevate the status of our indigenous language to become a modern language.
In Nigeria, this timely project has coincided with the recently released National Language Policy which demands, among other things, that henceforth, ‘instructions in primary schools; for six years of learning will be in the mother tongue.’ It is important to note that the implementation of this policy in schools domiciled in Ejagham areas, depends on the availability of a standard Ejagham language orthography – approved by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) – through which instructional materials for the teaching and learning of/in the Ejagham language can be developed.
It is in view of guaranteeing the success of this project, which anchors on the general acceptance of this proposed orthography, that this Technical Team visited all Ejagham Traditional Council/Association in Nigeria and Cameroon to exhibit its syllabic and tone structure, as well as its phonemic consonants and vowel chats. For Ejagham Clusters in Nigeria, this exhibition is a prelude to the more robust engagement between NERDC and all Ejagham Traditional Councils to ascertain local acceptance of this proposed orthography. In Cameroon, similar engagements with relevant government agencies shall take place to ensure that the proposed orthography is commissioned for use in learning institutions.
Photostory: @Ejagham in Cameroon