Indigenous literature, as a survivalist art, means that this literature has always existed in Africa since time immemorial immemorial times and surprisingly not waning, its impact is still felt, oral transmissions of the Nigerian experience is still popular, in spite of many decades of the introduction of literacy.
Before 1914, there had flourished literature in various languages spoken in what is now called Nigeria. In the North Arabic literary scholarship was the vogue, poetry blossomed in Arabic or Ajani.
The Hausa version of the Arabic language, while in the south traditional literature held sway, described in many ways as oral literature, orature, folk literature, oral tradition etc.
As it is today, to write a piece of African literature without the injection of African traditional materials is like preparing a soup without thinking of salt. African oral materials found even in snippets confer authenticity on the modern African literary heritage. Thus, Achebe, Clark, Ike Amado, etc are today remembered, among others, for what they have made of orature, which they inherited from their different cultures.
It has been pointed out that literature in the Northern part of Nigeria is traceable to Ajani writers, who were essentially elitist and religious. More over, they largely wrote poems, while showing no real interest in novel and drama traditions. The reason was that poetry was used to convey their religious bent, while prose and drama are by their nature given to secularism and entertainment.
Christian missionaries played a role in instigating Hausa literature, however their output were focused on proselytising literature written in both Ajani and Boko scripts. Similarly, a newspaper like Gaskiya Tafi Kwabo, first printed in 1939, published in Hausa, has played stringent role in advancing literature in Northern Nigeria.
No mention of poetry writing in the North is complete without reference to Shehu Usman Danfodio, who lived in the 19th century. He is said to have composed 480 poems, some of them short, ranging from eleven lines to 450 stanzas. He also wrote books in Arabic, while his poems were written in Arabic or fulfulde and later translated in similar poetic form into Hausa. His son, brother and sister also wrote various numbers of poems.
There were also the scholars who wrote poems in Hausa in addition to their outputs in Arabic and fulfulde. As there was virtually no print media in the Hausa land of the 19th century, the scholars had their poems written on plain sheets of paper in local ink and published by being recopied by their disciples and students. Koranic blind beggers recited them after congregational prayers in mosques, market places where they found keen listeners.
The establishment of Translation Bureau later Literature Bureau in the 1930s saw to the production of the first set of Hausa novels, writers like Abubakar Imam, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Bello Kagara, Mohammadu Gwazo etc, published novels. They freely made use of the oral traditions in their native technique.
Similarly, Dr R.M. East who first headed the translation bureau, edited and published in 1930 six Hausa plays in which five of the plays were folktales made into drama and the sixth one, the dramatisation of Bayirida legend.
In 1953, the North Regional Literature Agency (NORLA) was established to augment the excertions of the literature bureau. NORLA saw to the compilation of the anthology of the poems of some important 20th century Hausa poets such as Sa’adu Zeingur, Mu’azu Hadeja, Alhaji Aliyu Namangi, etc.
After seven years period in 1959, NORLA was disbanded and its role later taken up by Gaskiya Corporation and much later by Northern Nigeria Publishing Company (NNPC) which was responsible for the flourishing of writings between 1960 and 1967. Not only did NNPC republish NORLA, titles, it published new Hausa novels like those by Umaru Dembo, A. Katsina, Garba Funtua and Abdulkadir Dan Gambo.
In 1980, NNPC ran a creative writing contest which saw to the publication of three submissions adjudged to be the best. In 1980, the Triumph Publishing Company was established by the Kano State Government which not only published two Hausa Newspapers, but brought out assorted books of various interests.
Literature in Igbo language was first encouraged by the Christian missionaries which needed a handle to spread Christianity. The church in 1840 directed Rev. J.F Schon (German) and the Yoruba Ex-slave, Samuel Ajayi Crowder, to study certain African language which could assist their evangelistic missions on the Niger. They selected Hausa and Igbo. Igbo was found by Rev. Schon to be difficult while preferring Hausa.
Schon managed to publish a Grammer of the Igbo language in 1890, but a greater work in Igbo language was done by Rev. Crowder and his fellow missionaries. The cooperative efforts of Baptist missionary named Clark and an African American called Merrick saw to the second collection in 1948. S.W. Koelle’s polygotha was published in 1854, in it , there were 300 Igbo words given in five different dialects.
Dr William Baikie published his self account of his expedition into Igbo land named the Igbo Expedition, Crowder’s Isoamaibo primer first published in 1857, later reprinted in 1927 and known today as Azundu, could be said to be the foundation of Igbo literary origins in the modern sphere.
In 1933, Pita Nwana, from Ndizogu in Imo State published the first Igbo novel entitled Omenuko which soon superseded Azundu in its educational functions as generations of school children and learners at Adult Educational Centres read it for its wit, volatile humour and its insistent in oral overtones. The sayings of Omemuko became something like the John Ploughman’s talks.
The next Igbo novel emerged thirty years later, precisely in 1963, titled “Ije Odumodu Jere” (The Trip made by Odumodu), written by Leopard Bellgam in the same year D.N Adiarh Published ‘Ala Bingo’ (Bingo land) however, none of these two novels matched Omenuko in terms of its popularity, gravity and extent of acceptability.
In the last 30 years, many Igbo plays and poems have been issued by well known publishing companies, including the Igbo plays of A.B Chukwueze and the Igbo poetry collections, edited by R.N. Ekechukwu and E.N Emenanjo in the 70s and 80s.
One writer whose Igbo novels have helped to shape Igbo literature is Tony Ubezie. His novels are memorable and touch at the base of human, social and environmental psychology. His interesting novels in Igbo largely titled in proverbs include, ‘Ukwa Ruo Oge Ya O Daa’ (When The Bread Fruit Ripens, It Falls), ‘Is I Akwu Dara n’ala’ (A palm fruit which falls on the ground), ‘Juo Obinna’ (Ask Obinna), ‘Nmiri Okueji Egbu Mbe’ (The Hot Water With Which Tortoise Is Killed), ‘Ukpaka Miiri Onye Ubiam’ (the oil bean which had fruited for the poor man). By the time the prolific writer died in 1994, he still had several unpublished Igbo titles.
However, any mention of the development of the Igbo literature without a mention of the singular efforts of the late Maazi F.C Ogbalu is faulty. He devoted over forty years of his life to the promotion of Igbo studies, using his press at Onitsha. He published his own books on the Igbo proverbs, Idioms, riddles, customs and tradition, poetry, fictions and several books for primary and secondary schools.
Literature in Yoruba follows the same pattern of development as Hausa and Igbo. If Ajayi Crowder, the Yoruba Ex-slave played such a prominent role in the founding of Igbo literature, one imagines that by the time he took on Igbo, much development has taken place in his Yoruba Language. This was largely due to the influx of the liberated slaves many of who were literates into Yoruba land a little before the middle of the 19th century.
There was also the influence of the establishment of Christian missions, Primary and secondary schools whose products soon acquired the art of reading and writing. Although the Yoruba Renaissance, which was stirred by the ex-slave started in the 1880s, the book in Yoruba history by Rev. Samuel Johnson completed in 1897 and published in 1921, could be said to be the proper take off point. Most people who claim now to be knowledgeable on Yoruba history only narrate Johnson, what is now known as Igbo culture and tradition was first mooted in that book.
It was not until 1939 that D.O Fagunwa’s “Ogboju-ode ninu Igbo Irunmale” (The Skillful Hunter in the Forest of spirits) a long prose narrative in the tradition of Yoruba folk lore was published, those who could not read Yoruba had to wait for Wole Soyinka’s translation of the story under the title, The Forest of a Thousand Daemons.
Some thirteen years later, precisely in 1952, Amos Tutuola, writing in quaint English, published the palm wine Drunkard, it was hailed in Europe and America, but distasted in his country. He wrote just as Fagunwa did, except that his medium was not Yoruba, but his tales which were linked artistically to yield the palm wine Drunkard were essentially Yoruba stories. Since Fafunwa, other writers who wrote like him in the Yoruba language include Ogundere, Omoyajowo, Fatami, etc. Others who wrote in the realistic tradition included I.O. Delano, who published his first Yoruba novel in 1955 and his second book of fiction in 1963. Since then, there have emerged the novels of J.F Odunjo, Afolabi Olabimtan, Adebayo Faleti, T.A Ladele, Ola Owolabi, Kola Akunlade, A Oyedele Yamitan Awoniji, among others.
It is therefore no gain saying that recent writers are even more aggressively adept at appropriating folk materials; Osofisan, Okri, Osundare, Erekwe, and Ohaeto, etc have in various proportions incorporated indigenous languages and folk elements in their writings such that their rootedness is not in doubt.
Need To Take Care Of Children Worldwide
At the end of last year, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) released a new report, ‘Preventing A Lost Decade: Urgent Action’ to reverse the devastating impact of COVID- 19 on children and young people. While it is easy for reports released in December to get lost in the end of the year rush, this report needs everyone’s attention. UNICEF called COVID-19 the greatest challenge to children in its 75-year history; and the situation is exacerbated by conflict, disaster, and climate change.
The facts tell a sobering story about the impact of the pandemic on children.
In less than two years, 100 million more children have fallen into poverty, a 10 percent, increase since 2019.
In 2020, over 23 million children missed out on essential vaccines.
50 million children suffer from wasting, the most life-threatening form of malnutrition, and this could increase by 9 million by 2022
At its peak in March 2020, 1.6 billion children were facing school closure.
Behind every one of these numbers are real stories: young children were left behind as preschool closed and food lines grew. School age children, particularly those with the most to gain, had limited access to remote learning. Teens suffered from social isolation and lack of mental health supports, and growing demands for early marriage. Parents tried their best to keep it all going; yet too often without the financial and social resources they needed. And the unpredictability of everyday life brought stress that seemed almost impossible to bear.
Fortunately, many communities around the world rallied: volunteers delivered food, distributed protective equipment and set up new hygiene facilities, and teachers worked to connect children with resources at home. We were all inspired by stories of people working for change, from health care workers to childcare providers, from youth to seniors.
Yet the challenges facing children were alarming even before COVID-19 became a household word. Approximately, one billion children, nearly half of the world’s children live in countries that are at an “extremely high risk” from the impacts of climate change and more and more children are forcibly displaced, all too often from conflict that could have been and should have been avoided.
Clearly, those in positions of power need to make investing in children, families, and communities a priority this year and in the years ahead. This is particularly true for U.S Foreign Assistance. Building on earlier work, in June of 2019, the U.S. launched Advancing Protection and Care for Children in Adversity: A United States Government Strategy for International Assistance (2019-23). This important document outlines a strategy for investing in the world’s most vulnerable children. In 2020 Congress passed the Global Child Thrive Act, providing additional direction for U.S. Government to invest in early childhood development. These are both important steps; now we all have to assure that they receive the attention and resources that this movement deserves.
The UNICEF report outlines an urgent agenda for action for children, including recommendations to invest in social protection, health, and education as well as building resilience to better prevent, respond to and protect children. Government, business and civil society and the public need to work together. But as in any crises, each individual action makes a difference. We can not wait for someone else to step forward with a solution. Each of us must ask: What can I do to help a neighbour, work in my community, build awareness, provide another voice, help empower others? What else can we do to integrate these issues into every field of study: from health to education, from diplomacy to economic development, from environmental studies to urban planning and design?
In their powerful new book, The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times, Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams with Gail Hudson, addressed an important question-How do we stay hopeful when everything seems hopeless? What is so uplifting about this story is that it draws a clear link between hope and action. It seems to be telling us that, while important, it is not the resilience of nature or the human intellect alone that matter, but also our spirit and belief in the possibilities and the power to take action. I can’t think of a better year to start.
Lombardi is an international expert on early childhood development and Senior Fellow at the Collaborative on Global Children’s Issues, Georgetown University.
By: Joan Lombardi
COVID-19 In Babies And Children: Symptoms, Prevention
With the re-occurring traits of COVID – 19 in Nigeria, it is important that parents and gurdians take extra care of their children. Reports from Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has it that,as from 16th to18th July, 2022, 478 new cases were confirmed and two deaths recorded.
A paediatrician and infectious disease expert, Dr Aaron Milstone at the Johns Hopkins Children Centre, has advised that it is important for parents and children to take every possible safety precautions and understand all risks and symptoms related to COVID – 19.
Dr Milstone talked about COVID – 19 symptoms in children, how to keep babies and children safe,the risk infected children may lose to others and an overview of Multi system Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS – C), an unknown but serious condition that may be related to the exposure of the virus.
He added that coronavirus variants, including the very contagious omicron variant has continued to spread, particularly in areas with low rates of community COVID – 19 vaccination among populations such as children under 5, who cannot yet be vaccinated.
According to him, “For children too young to be vaccinated, and adults who have not received Coronavirus vaccines,it is important to follow proven COVID -19 precautions such as mask wearing when in public,indoor places to reduce the chance of becoming infected with the coronavirus. “Indoor activities are riskier than outdoor activities, but risk can be reduced by masking, distancing, hand washing and improved ventilation. Parents and caregivers should understand that children infected with the coronavirus can develop complications requiring hospitalisation and can transmit the virus to others,” Milstone said.
He noted that, in rare cases,children infected with the coronavirus can develop a serious lung infection and become sick with COVID – 19 and deaths have occurred. That is why it is important to take precautions and prevent infection in children as well as adults.
“According to U. S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it appears that women infected with coronavirus can in rare cases pass the disease to their babies. Adding that, infants can also become infected shortly after being born,and most newsborns who test positive for the coronavirus have mild symptoms or none at all and recover, but serious cases have occured.
Pregnant women should take extra precautions,including talking to their doctors about getting a COVID – 19 vaccine to avoid the coronavirus.
Milstone also noted that,there is no evidence that the virus causing COVID – 19 is present in breastmilk but because there is a possibility of spreading COVID – 19 during breastfeeding through respiratory droplets,it is very important for pregnant women to follow safety guidelines.
“Generally, COVID – 19 symptoms in children and babies are milder than those in adults and some infected children may not have any signs of being sick at all; the symptoms include cough,shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing, muscle or body aches,sore throat, loss of smell or taste, diarrhea, headache, new fatigue, nausea or vomiting and congestion or running nose . Fever and cough are common COVID – 19 symptoms in both adults and children, shortness of breath is more likely to be seen in adults . However, serious illness in children with COVID -19 is possible and parents should stay alert if their child is diagnosed with or shows signs of the disease”, Milstone said.
By: Ibinabo Ogolo
Pornography And Children’s Health: Time For Action
One social vice bedevilling children and adolescents in the world currently is the issue of addiction to pornography. It has assumed a frightening dimension as the recent upsurge in rape and other sexual assault cases are remotely linked to the unlimited access to pornographic materials to impressionable minds.
Pornography is the representation of sexual behaviour in books, pictures, status, films and other media that is intended to cause sexual excitement.
Exposure to pornography harms children and youth by normalising sexual violence and creating unrealistic behaviours.
Consequently, child pornography is on the increase globally and this is a real problem. It is a ‘big deal’ and has significant consequences on the future of children.This problem has increased because of the use of the internet and smart phones.
According to statistics, in 2008, the internet marketing firm, Hitwise, reported that globally, 40,634 web sites distributed pornographic materials. A report according to PornHub in 2020, the word “teen” topped the pornography mega site’s search terms for over six years running, making child pornography one of the fastest growing online businesses with over 55 percent of victims just 10 years old or younger.
In 2010,survey of English students between 14 and 16 years old, almost one third claimed that their first exposure to internet pornography was at 10 years. In a 2011 survey, 31 percent of adolescent boys admitted visiting websites that are intended as Adults only.
In 2012, Australian study of pornography users found out that the first exposure of children was between the ages of 11 to 13 years old. Also, in 2017, Australian Institute of Family Studies in a research by Antonia Quasars and Alissar El- Murr, revealed that nearly half of children between the ages of 9 to 16 experience regular exposure to sexual images. Moreso, young males are more likely than females to deliberately seek out pornography and they do so frequently.
In Nigeria, internet pornography has continued to grow.Nigeria is a signatory to several international and legal instruments in the involvement of children in pornography. Nigeria has no national laws prohibiting pornography,but, the Cybercrime (Prohibiting Prevention) Act in 2015 only bans child pornography.
Currently, Nigeria has the highest number of internet pornography viewers of any country in Africa.According to reports, Nigerian youths secretly watch pornography and have become addicted largely unknowingly. Available statistics show that among Nigerian children, primary consumers of pornography are boys between the ages of 12 and 17 which might be due to the children’s reliance on pornography as primary source of sex education.
According to a counsellor, Justina Amalokwu, “for decades, Nigerian parents have become reluctant to talk about sex with their children . Maybe they are religious or uncomfortable about the topic . This reluctance has pushed many children to turn to the internet for lectures and demonstration on sex. When they go online, they easily get to porn sites”.
Recently, the United Nations International Children’s Educational Fund (UNICEF) in a statement, stated that it was alarmed by the massive quantity of pornography available online, including graphic and extreme content that is easily accessible to children of all ages. It also stated that efforts to regulate content and restrict children’s access to pornography have not kept pace with technological shifts.
UNICEF however, supports the efforts of government round the world to ensure that children and young people are protected from harmful content in accordance with the convention on the rights of the child and the authoritative guidance from the committee in the Rights of the child .
The American College of Paediatricians on their part has urged healthcare professionals worldwide to communicate the risk of pornography use to parents and their families and to offer resources both to protect their children from viewing pornography and to treat individuals suffering from its negative effects.It said that children under 12 years old, who have viewed pornography, are statistically more likely to sexually assault their peers and these children are at the risk of a broad range of maladaptive behaviours and psychopathology.
A recent primary research article in JAMA psychiatry, shows that pornography consumption is associated with decreased left striatua activation and lower functional connectivity to the prefrontal cortex. Also,smaller grey matter volume in the viewers can cause down regulation of the brain’s response to erotic material. These neural changes in the brains of pornography users are similar to changes seen in the brains of individuals addicted to cocaine, alcohol and methamphetamines. These cause mental disturbance and unrest for the young school age child .
The Association advises that since the internet is the primary medium for pornography exposure, computers should be equipped with internet filtering and monitory software to reduce exposure. “There are variety of parental controls and filtering systems available to parents and some current software vendors offering filtering and monitoring of smart phones which are now the primary technology used by adolescents to access the internet. Also, there are software services which offer the ability to create accountability partnerships so as to increase the success of breaking free from pornography addiction”, the Association noted.
A clinical/school social worker, Danny Huerta, over the years observed that pornography leaves children incredibly stunted in their growth and maturity and enslaved to pleasure and consumption, depriving them of healthy sexuality for their marriages for society and for generations to come. He added that pornography triggers the body production of oxytocin, which is the bonding activity between a husband and wife. The more it is used outside the design, the more confused and washed down the ability to bond.
He urged parents to help their children learn how and why to guard their hearts and minds which are their springs of life and to help them see that there is more to life than sex.
Another Child counsellor, Jennifer Michelle Greenberg, said that the consequences of pornography can be disastrous.
“Porn can stay in your head forever. It is very hard to get these images out of your head. They are burned in your memory like a brand.” She adivised parents to protect their children by teaching them about sex before someone else does.
“According to her, “make it clear to them that if they have any questions or concerns, they can come to you and you won’t be upset. Tell your children that photos and videos of sex and nudity are wrong and teach them what God’s word says about their bodies”.
“Be aware that many children encounter pornography at the home of a friend or neighbour. Monitor your children online activities and texts. Know what websites they visit, who they are talking to and what their passwords are. Be aware of the images they are taking of themselves and sharing ,”she said.
There is no doubt that exposure of children and adolescents to pornographic materials is harmful to their development and societal growth. Victims of early exposure to such things often end up addicted to it and they tend to want to have multiple sex partners. They are encouraged by what they see to engage in unsafe sexual practices.
It is important that parents give their children moral and sex education from early stages of life. Also, education about internet safety is key in achieving parental control.
“Government also has a greater role to play by enforcing laws concerning exposure of children to pornographic materials. It is often a common sight of children and adolescents watching rated videos shown by video rental shops across Nigeria”. Furthermore, introduction of moral and sex education in the curriculum of primary and secondary schools would go a long way in curbing this unhealthy trend and save our youths and the society at large from the menace of pornography.
By: Ibinabo Ogolo
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