The present state of Children's Literature in Indigenous African Languages: The Igbo Example
AbstractThis work tries to explore the state of children’s indigenous literature at both nursery and lower primary levels of education in Igbo speech community of Eastern Nigeria. As a result of the perceived decline in proficiency in both oral and written forms of the language among the younger generation of ‘Ndigbo’ and which has given rise to obvious fear of the language degenerating to a state of endangerment, some committed individuals and groups have organized and are still organizing significant language crusade against the prevalent negative language attitude of ‘Ndigbo’ towards their language. This effort, it is hoped, will engender the infusion of the spirit of revitalization and rebirth and the eventual language pride into the owners of Igbo language. It is a well known fact that Children’s literature provides opportunity of response, appreciation and internalization of one’s cultural heritage as well as the nurture, growth and development of the children’s self perception and language skills which result to the internal urge of transferring same to posterity. In view of these, this study explores the extent the language crusade at present going on in Igbo society has really actualized the targeted goals, and inquires whether the crusaders also have early childhood education (nursery and lower primary) in mind as part of their targets. This study will equally examine the current state of the indigenous children’s literature: prose, poetry, drama, including nursery rhymes at this crucial formation stage in relation with the existing school curriculum. With the fact that early exposure of children to indigenous literature is one of the major measures of revitalizing and stabilizing languages, this research will premise its search on Fishman’s theoretical framework for language revitalization and shift. Based on the findings, some recommendations will be made and some relevant revitalization techniques also be suggested.
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