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HomeLanguage NewsnewsUN to Promote News in Local African Languages

UN to Promote News in Local African Languages

The United Nations (UN) is ready to partner with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) to promote production of news in local languages across Africa, according to Ronald Kayanja, the director of the UN Information Centre (UNIC) in Nigeria.

Kayanja cited the inability of the media in Africa to project countries in the continent positively and promote the understanding of news content in local vernacular as major challenges to journalism on the continent.

According to him, the UN wants to promote Hausa as the second most-widely spoken Indigenous African language, saying, “After Swahili, you have Hausa as the second largest language on the continent. So, the UN has six major languages, we have added Hindi because of India. We have added Swahili and we are adding Hausa for obvious reasons. It has nothing to do with Amina Mohammed, because she’s Deputy Secretary of the UN, no, it’s out of the figures, the numbers make it so evident…For us, we are also developing it as a language of communication within the United Nations because of the reach when you look at the Sahel, a major region for us. Hausa is major.

Adding, “Recently, when we had the challenges we had in Niger and we wanted to monitor the media, of course, everybody told us we have to monitor the Hausa media. Then you can understand what is happening from where people are.”

He described Hausa as a language that had become useful in an area the organization should work on.

“As a non-Nigerian appointed to the country, many friends including relatives asked me, are you going to Nigeria? What about Boko Haram? One of the challenges in Africa is that we are not good at journalism that projects our countries positively. Bad news is good news. Until I came to Nigeria, I didn’t know about the great things happening in this country. I had to see them myself. When you travel around, you see the many wonderful things happening in this country, but if you only consume the media, especially social media, you may think this country is on fire. So that’s what I always tell my journalist colleagues. I think we are undermining ourselves. When you look at the U.S., for instance, how many people die every day of gunshot? But you don’t see that as headline.”

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