The fluidity and expressive nature of the pidgin language give it a level of uniqueness among other spoken languages in West and Central African communities. Over time, the need to bridge the gap between English and our various local dialects have been on the rise. This need led to the introduction of the first pidgin radio broadcast station – Wazobia FM. However, since the subsequent integration of this Creole language, communication and information sharing have increased especially in rural areas where English is not often spoken.
To further propagate the essential need of the younger audience for communication in Pidgin, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service recently launched a pidgin channel in Nigeria. Being the first of its kind in the digital space, the aim of this platform is to reach a wider range of young viewers, especially women, who do not have the opportunity to listen to and or understand the other BBC World Service channels.
According to the BBC’s Editorial lead, Bilkisu Labaran, “…Pidgin is the language that is spoken by so many people across West and Central Africa and for the first time, we will be connecting with the next generation of speakers. Pidgin is the common thread in the region, the language of unity spoken by people from all walks of life, and we are excited at the prospect of providing this service.”
Miriam Quansah, Digital Lead for BBC World Service’s Africa Hub, also said that most people had a mixture of surprise and excitement during the announcement and launching of the channel. She added that the incorporation of pidgin in commerce, lectures, sales and social media conversations is an indication that the language has come to stay so expanding its reach is a step in the right direction.
The new digital service will feature BBC Minute, broadcasting six times a day, with a roundup of the world in 60 seconds available online and on the several social media platforms. The new programming will also feature a specially commissioned drama that illustrates the beauty of the language and the fun people have in communicating with the language.
With production done in Lagos, the world service aims to tell broader stories that matter to the growing African population. In addition, “the service seeks to showcase Nigeria’s best by kick-starting an innovation hub that brings together graphic designers, journalists and research personnel.”
Miriam also hints that the “BBC is looking to work with established media companies in Africa and institutions like universities to develop editorial partnerships.” The synergy from these partnerships will create a chain that simplifies the dissemination of critical information across Africa.
Furthermore, technology plays a key part in promoting the quality of information passed across various strata hence the need for a community of like-minded individuals who can share and converse without any barrier.