Two new language services have been launched by the BBC World Service for Igbo and Yoruba speakers in Nigeria and West and Central Africa. The new services are part of the media company’s biggest expansion since the 1940’s, following a government-funding boost announced in 2016.
This expansion in Nigeria – Africa’s most populous country where more than 200 languages are spoken – began last year with BBC Pidgin, which targets those who use the regional English-based lingua franca.
The new Igbo and Yoruba teams have also faced challenges to standardise their written languages for modern audiences, and have sought advice from academics.
👋Meet the teams for the new BBC Yoruba and BBC Igbo language services. More: https://t.co/h6VTeLslAi
— BBC News Africa (@BBCAfrica) February 19, 2018
There are very few news publications in Igbo and Yoruba in Nigeria, so this is hoping that the new BBC services will be popular with Nigerians at home, and in the diaspora.
“This is the first time the Igbo language will be written and broadcast for international consumption,” says Adline Okere, editor of the Igbo service. The company’s head of West Africa, Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye, says the focus will be on original journalism.
“Delivering content and engaging with the Igbo and Yoruba audiences in their mother tongues is authentic, exciting, and refreshing,” she adds.
It is important to note that the BBC has had a vibrant Hausa service for decades that includes a thriving AM radio service.
BBC Hausa has remained the premium source of news and information for Hausa communities not plugged into the local Nigerian information grid for almost 40 years now and the BBC Igbo and Yoruba service will ultimately seek to replicate this success.
The Igbo and Yoruba service will produce a bulletin of BBC Minute twice daily – an audio round-up of stories as well as news, analysis, and features on the web and social media.
When Bernard Dayo isn’t writing about pop culture, he’s watching horror movies, anime and trying to pretend his addiction to Netflix isn’t a serious condition.