The advancement of Pidgin English received a great boost recently at Ota, Ogun State at the Nigerian Pigdin Convention Series of Jehovah’s Witnesses which held from December 20 to 23,2018.
This was the seventeenth in the series of the 2018 “Be courageous!” Regional Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses
Recently there are clear indications that Jehovah’s Witnesses are seriously using Pidgin as tool to reach the heart and they have risen beyond the general stereotypical description of it as ‘Pidgin English’ or ‘Broken English.
Jehovah’s Witnesses adopted Nigerian Pidgin as a formal language of worship in 2015.
Already ,we gathered that some are switching the language of the congregation from English to Pidgin, because they realized that majority of the publishers benefit more in Nigerian Pidgin.
Speaking on the development, Jonathan Diyaolu, a convention coordinator in Ota said, ”It is all about communication, reaching the heart. Whatever language communicates best to those we are speaking to is the language that should be used…
”Jehovah’s organization is spirit directed, hence could see far ahead. The most organized organization on earth has seeing in advance how this will boost the preaching work, not only in Nigeria but the whole of English-speaking West Africa to aid seekers of truth hear the kingdom message”
The apostle Paul told the congregation in Corinth that unless we use speech that is easily understood, how will anyone know what is being said? He then added: “You will in fact be speaking into the air.” (1 Cor. 14:9-11). Paul understood the importance of clear communication.
Explaining Jehovah’s Witnesses line of thinking, Seyi Olojede who served as Program Overseer for the last Pidgin Convention said”, Today many focuses on promoting the English language. The world encourages the thinking that speaking English means that one is intelligent or educated. Thus, parents and family members are very eager to speak English or teach their children to do so. However, we as Jehovah’s people are different. The purpose of the Christian Congregation is not to learn English nor is one elevated if he speaks English. In fact, it is not unusual to hear pidgin spoken by those with a high degree of education, including professionals.”
” Interestingly, the truth of God’s word was not originally written in English but in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Therefore, just as English is a translation, other languages are also translations and are thus considered equal. For a number of years Jehovah’s people have shown great interest in translating publications into various languages for the needs of those in the field and in the congregation. Happily, a translation team has been formed at Nigeria branch, Bethel, Igeduma and hard work is ongoing to produce publications that can be used in the pidgin fields.’ he concluded
Now, it is accepted by most people as a very useful language for public enlightenment campaigns, radio and television programs, inter-ethnic communication, commercial advertising, sitcoms, stand-up comedies, popular music, religious music and for conducting common everyday business transactions in many parts of the country.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) recently started pidgin programs too…and it is gaining tremendous ground.
While the status of the Pidgin English has improved tremendously as a language that can be used for serious purposes, only a small body of literature exists in the language.
There are ongoing efforts among local linguists and writers to see that this aspect of the language is developed.
Current estimates show that around 5 million people speak Naijá (adopted cliche for Pidgin in Nigeria) as first language while over 75 million people use it as a second language in Nigeria and in Nigerian Diaspora communities in Europe, America and other parts of the world.
Nigeria is one huge and complex multilingual community with several different languages used within the public and private social space from city to city in Nigeria.
This has made it possible for several different lingua francas to exist across Nigeria. But in the last twenty or thirty years, Naijá has become one of the most important, most widely spread, and perhaps the most ethnically neutral lingua franca used in the country today.
Current estimates show that around 5 million people speak Naijá as first language while over 75 million people use it as a second language in Nigeria and in Nigerian Diaspora communities in Europe, America and other parts of the world.
Although English is still remains the country’s official language and the language of education in Nigeria, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba prominently feature as regional languages in the northern, eastern and western parts of the country respectively. But Pidgin is not just endemic to the Niger Delta area alone, it is also widely spoken in many of the country’s big cities, tertiary institutions, police and military formations and the sabon-gari areas of northern Nigeria.
Huge crowds have been attending the convention meant for people living in parts of Lagos and Ogun states, and which holds every Friday to Sunday.
Delegates have been full of appreciation for the rich spiritual content of the convention. A delegate, Seyi Olojede, who served as Program Overseer for the last Pidgin Convention said: “I am impressed with the way things have been going. Many have been refreshed, emboldened with Courage and renewed hope to face challenges of life”.
“We are inviting interested members of the public to attend subsequent conventions”, he added