Covenant University Holds Third Inaugural Lecture
The need for Africans to engage in the process of developing the official languages of their nations along the patterns of their local dialects has been described as key to rediscovering the destiny of the African man
This much was made known at the Third Inaugural Lecture of Covenant University, titled “Language Engineering and The Destiny of Man in Africa,” presented by Professor Charles Ogbulogo on Friday, April 19, 2013 at the University Lecture Theatre.
The Lecturer of the day noted that the human tongue, with regards to the spoken word, has the capacity to either build up or tear down a Nation. He stated that the wrong interpretation of words could lead to terrible disasters, citing the situation that led to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States of America and the Rwanda Genocide as historical examples.
Looking at Africa in the world system, the erudite scholar pointed out that the beginning of survival Nosce Te Ipsum (i.e. the knowledge of the self), what we stand for and where we are going. “Beyond the dynamics of colonialism and the over-orchestrated counter development impulse, it should also be noted that Africa is the most multilingual continent of the world,” he added.
The Professor of English regretted that while nations are firming up programmes for self-discovery for the younger generations, African nations are still held back by colonial considerations.
With over four thousand languages spoken in Africa and five hundred and twenty in Nigeria, Professor Ogbulogo affirmed that Africa has a huge fount of words, which could enable the engineering of languages in Africa become acceptable in the continent.
He posited that Africa would always be at the mercy of those who know their source and destination in life, unless she begins to assert herself by being in control of her society and destiny through the instrumentality of indigenous languages.
Professor Ogbulogo, who also serves as the Dean, School of Postgraduate Studies of Covenant University, said the sole purpose of Language Engineering is to discover the real meaning and fundamental nature of a particular word of a language, as was meant at creation.
He opined that for Africa to be competitive there is the need for her scholars to be inward looking and approach issues of teaching foreign languages in a pragmatic way, thereby drawing from contexts such as professions and related conventions in Africa, to build a template for promoting African languages.
Professor Ogbulogo noted further that concerning the African situation, that it would be profitable to approach the learning and teaching of foreign languages with a global mindset, which can enable its adoption across board. This, he said, could be based on the four states of language, which are expressive, signaling, descriptive and argumentative functions they perform in communication.
He inferred that it is feasible to evolve a Pan-African English variety with moderate vocabulary, simplified sentence structures and modified spelling convention to ease communication and integration. This, he said, could be classified as ‘AfriEnglish.’ The essence of
‘AfriEnglish’ would be founded on Special English drawing resources from existing vocabulary and spelling conventions. This specialized variety of English could form the medium for wider communication as against Pidgin English in Nigeria.
In his remarks, the Chancellor, Dr. David Oyedepo, represented by the Education Secretary of the Living Faith Church Worldwide (the Proprietor base of the University), Professor Aize Obayan, said Professor Ogbulogo occupies a special place in the heart of the Chancellor. She commended the lecturer for doing a thorough job by analyzing issues from ancient times to the present. She advised that it was time for Africa to break free from Neocolonialism and begin to determine the course of her destiny.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Vice-Chancellor of Covenant University, Professor Charles Ayo, assured the audience that Covenant University is on the path to global excellence, and will continue to pioneer the advancement of Nigerian and African Universities in the league of world universities.
He stated that the importance of Language Engineering in nation building cannot be overemphasized, as this is a vital tool for social integration and peaceful human co-existence.
The inaugural lecture was graced by dignitaries from the academia, professional associations, ministries and government parastatals, as well as family, friends and colleagues of the lecturer.