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Nigerian Language Oral History Documentation Project

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Nigerian Language Oral History Documentation Project

Nigerian Language Oral History Documentation Project is an initiative by the Wikimedia Nigeria Foundation Inc. with support from the Wikimedia Foundation for enriching the Wikimedia projects with freely licensed audiovisual files documenting spoken languages and dialects in Nigeria.

Language is one of the core values of people and identity of any nation. More than 6,000 languages are spoken in the world and over 500 languages are spoken in Nigeria. This is approximately 8.3% of the total languages spoken worldwide. It's been established by the United Nation that in “every two weeks, at least one indigenous language vanishes, leading to two language extinctions each month”. Essentially, this is a problem facing small languages with little or no documentation. There are several indigenous languages in Nigeria that are neither taught in schools or written down. These endangered languages lack any tangible preservation, documentation and may soon vanished as predicted by the United Nation.

English is the official language spoken in Nigeria; however, there are over 520 languages and dialects in different parts of the country. The country is divided into 6 Geo-political zones; South-West, South-South, South-East, North Central, North West and North East, for administration. Essentially, there are three major languages spoken, written and taught in schools in Nigeria, while speakers of these languages are dominants in their respective zones e.g. South-West; Yoruba, South-East; Igbo, North-Central; Yoruba and Hausa; North-West; Hausa, North-East; Hausa.

In response to economic, political and social pressures, there is a paradigm shift from local dialects to more dominant languages such as English language.

To address this issue, the Wikimedia Nigeria Foundation Inc. with support from the Wikimedia Foundation, is recording audiovisual of oral history of languages spoken in Nigeria videos and audios. The documented materials are hosted on Wikimedia Commons, Wikitongues, the United States Library of Congress, and the Internet Archive will host the materials in perpetuity.


  1. To freely document the brief oral history of indigenous languages in Nigeria in a format that is easily accessible and searchable
  2. Promote the use of indigenous languages audiovisuals on relevant Wikipedia articles
  3. To bridge contents gap on Wikimedia projects
  4. Create awareness and promote contents around indigenous language on Wikipedia
  5. To promote GLAM (Gallery, Library, Archive and Museums) in Nigeria
  • To recruit new editors and up-skill the existing Wikimedians
  • Build capacity for new and existing volunteers
  • To bridge the gap between languages experts and and Wikimedia projects

Project core team[edit]

  • Olaniyan Olushola – Project manager: Olushola is a financial management expert and former asset management consultant to the First Bank of Nigeria. Shola is the Chair, Wikimedia Nigeria Foundation Inc., and a member of the WMF's Affiliations Committee. He has lead and managed over 50 Wikimedia programs/projects that focus on advocacy, community organising, capacity building, partnership-building and volunteers management. He is the producer of several Wikimedia advocacy radio show. The most prominent and longest running program is the Wiki Women Radio Program produced as part of the Wiki Loves Women project. He has featured in several notable national televisions to promote Wikimedia projects, notably; BBC Channels TV, TVC News & PlusTV Africa. He has attended several Wikimedia conferences and chaired the Wiki Indaba 2019. Olushola is a co-producer of the New Readers Awareness Campaigns promotion videos. This advocacy work earned the team the 2018 African Excellence Awards, and the award ceremony took place in Dublin, Ireland. He's a co-coordinator of the WPWP Campaign, and the project manager of the the Visibility Project in which over 200 female journalists in East Africa were trained and mentored on how to contribute to Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. Olaniyan Olushola would be responsible for managing the entire project with the support of several volunteer members of the Wikimedia Nigeria Community.
  • Isaac Olatunde - Executive Producer: Isaac Olatunde is a Yoruba Wikipedia sysop, GLAM Expert, open knowledge advocate, and project manager with experience in volunteers management and retention. He was a former member of the Individual Engagement Grant Committee and Project Grant Committee, Wikimedia Foundation. Isaac is a co-founder of the Wikimedia User Group Nigeria and the founder of the #WPWPCampaign. In 2020, he was nominated as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.
  • Tunde Oladimeji – Producer/Director: Oladimeji is a versatile and notable Nigerian documentary filmmaker, actor, director and television presenter, known for pioneering documentary film in indigenous language in Nigeria. Oladimeji is the producer of Yoruba Heritage Documentary series. One of the documentary series, Ibadan was nominated in the best documentary category at the 2020 Africa Magic Viewers' Choice Awards. He would be responsible for managing the audiovisuals production from pre-production stage to post-production stage.
  • Dayo Akanmu (Ph.D) – Documentation support: Dr. Dayo Akanmu hold a doctorate degree (Ph.D) in Linguistic stylistics, Master of Arts (M.A) degree in Yoruba Stylistics, Master of Arts degree (M.A) in Communication and Language Arts from the University of Ibadan. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Yoruba language from the Lagos State Univeristy. He has several papers in reputable local and International journals with over 20 years of teaching and research experience. Dr. Akanmu is a principal lecturer at Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education. He was a former coordinator of Yoruba, English, French, Igbo and Hausa languages in the College for a period of four years. He was the immediate past Head of the Yoruba Department.
  • Mikaeel Sodiq
    Mikaeel Sodiq
    Mikaeel Sodiq - Production Manager: Sodiq hold a Bachelor's degree in Adult education with specialization in Yoruba language. He is the President of the Yoruba Wikimedians User Group. He was a production manager for at least two awareness campaign videos, Afrocuration Campaign video produced in collaboration with the Moleskine Foundation and a Short Wikipedia Documentary for Wikipedia 20. He will be in charge of all the logistics planning, including hotels booking, car hiring, locations management, production crew management, and the time-management at every location.
Daniel Bögre Udell
  • Daniel Bögre Udell - Advisor: Danie Udell is a TED Resident and the co-founder of Wikitongues, which grew out of a personal project he began in 2013. He has been working with online initiatives since 2011, when he helped launch the Catalan-language edition of Global Voices. He is an historian and designer by training, having studied at Parsons School of Design and The New School for Social Research in New York City. He speaks English, Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese. He is an advisor on this project.
  • Dansu Peter - Production assistant: Dansu Peter is a Yoruba language expert and active member of the Yoruba Wikipedia with over 200 articles created on Yoruba Wikipedia. He holds a Bachelor of Art degree (BA) in Yoruba and he will be working on this project as a production assistant.


The project was funded by the Wikimedia Foundation project grant in 2021.

Project design and implementation[edit]

Time line and work plan[edit]

Timeline & work plan
Month(s) Activities Resulting deliverables Remarks
May 2021 Stakeholder engagement, Production meetings, script writing, shoot days scheduling preparation for fieldwork, equipment hiring (or purchasing), hiring of technical personnel, tickets, bookings, Scout and secure locations, finalize the budget Every arrangement would have been finalized
May – June 2021 Fieldwork (shooting) 50 media files produced
June – July 2021 Post-production and edit-a-thon

COVID-19 risk analysis[edit]

During the project design and implementation, the project team was concerned on the challenges that the impact of COVID-19 may pose to the project especially the fieldwork. Although, at the time, the risk of COVID-19 Pandemic in Nigeria was generally low and there was no restrictions, partial or total lockdown in any parts of Nigeria (aside from the emergency lockdown in March 2020).

We designed a COVID-19 risk analysis to ensure an uninterrupted project implementation while ensuring duty of care principles are applied, respecting and sustaining international effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 and sustain WMF’s response to the pandemic.

The project manager ensured to minimize the risk to, and burden on people participating in the project and seek and maximize the benefit and avoid or significantly reduce any harm that may result due to COVID-19 during the project implementation.

For the purpose of supporting decision-making on this project implementation, we categorized risks on a scale of:

  1. High
  2. Medium
  3. Low

We assessed the above scale based on the severity of the impact on the project, relative to the likelihood of the risk manifestation or occurrence.

Risk analysis
S/N Risk Mitigation/Remarks Impact assessment
1. Risk of exposure and spreading of COVID-19 by members of the project team We will follow the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control's protocol and Guidelines on COVID-19 and WMF’s Risk Assessment protocol Low
2. Risk of exposure and spreading of COVID-19 by participants We will follow the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control's protocol and Guidelines on COVID-19 and WMF’s Risk Assessment protocol Low
3. Risk of exposure and spreading of COVID-19 by any partner organization We will follow the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control's protocol and Guidelines on COVID-19 and WMF’s Risk Assessment protocol Low
4. Travel restrictions No travel restriction in any parts of Nigeria. If there are travels restrictions in the future before shooting is completed, we will postpone the rest of the shooting until the restrictions are lifted and the edit-a-thons would be conducted online. Note: We will only consider this option if the restriction timeframe is short Low
5. Lockdown No lockdown in any parts of Nigeria due to COVID-19. However, we plan to take the following measure. 1. Take advantage of this period of “no-lockdown” to do the shooting to compensate for any lockdown that may result from Covid-19. 2. If there is lockdown before shooting is completed, we could ask our contact in the targeted state to do the recording, while we do the post-production which includes editing of the visual and audio material, color correction in video, sound effect etc. Low

Overall, COVID-19 pandemic did not pose any risk to this project. The project was not truncated by any travel restrictions, partial or total lockdown resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The risk and likelihood of exposure and spreading of COVID-19 was zero.


The production was managed by Tunde Oladimeji, a notable Nigerian documentary filmmaker, actor, director and television presenter, known for pioneering documentary film in indigenous language in Nigeria. The recording was done for about a month. The native speakers were carefully selected based on predetermined criteria by the project team. We worked with literate speakers who can provide a first-pass translation in a practical orthography which can form the basis for subtitle in English.

The oral histories were not scripted but elicited through structured conversations that encourage the speakers to use different grammatical tenses in their language and share culturally relevant knowledge. The elicitation protocol used was designed by the field linguists from Wikitongues and language experts.

The audiovisuals were shot with a Black Magic 4K camera in different locations with good ambient by Femi Fatola, a professional cinematographer who shot Ibadan documentary that was nominated in the best documentary category at the 2020 Africa Magic Viewers' Choice Awards.

The core team was in the field for about one month and shooting was done in various states and locations.