THE NEED FOR THIS INITIATIVE
a. The total population of Abagusii is estimated at 1.65 Million and growing. While a majority of them live in the rural areas, many have left the traditional tribal lands and moved to urban centers throughout Kenya to seek education, employment and to access other resources that only exist in urban centers. Many more live and work in different cities and regions all around the world. Especially for this population outside the tribal area, Ekegusii (and materials in Ekegusii) has become ever so scarce and in danger of being lost.
b. At the moment, very little in terms of scholarship and published materials exist in the language. There are some published linguistics works on Ekegusii (notably Camenga, Whiteley, Bickmore and others), but these only scratch the surface. Pedagogic literature is very scant except for some elementary works in form of folk tales, short stories, songs and proverbs. To date, the Holy Bible and Christian hymnals remain the major translations and only rich source of written Ekegusii.
c. The translations were recently revised, thus making them more contemporary. A dictionary of Ekegusii language does not exist and therefore there is no authoritative reference material on the language. It is worth noting that all the literature except Bickmore work ignores tone marking in the language and this is crucially unjust for a language as dependent on tone differentiation as Ekegusii is.
d. Abagusii as a people enjoy a far wider and richer culture and a way of life that can barely be regarded as adequately addressed in these publications.
e. Ekegusii has not developed specialized vocabulary and every –day words for new and emerging glocalized experiences like hip hop music, information technology, commerce, communication, Travel etc making the language ill-equipped for communication. Consequently, Ekegusii speakers find that the language lacks names for such everyday things like the radio, TV, Video, Computer and computer ware.
f. To the disadvantage of would-be speakers and learners of Ekegusii, our country’s education system does not place much emphasis on the learning of various tribal languages and the same are not examined in national examinations so the motivation to learn and improve them is killed for the youth at an early age..
g. Furthermore as a tribe there is no known local/ethnic language policy or emphasis on teaching and exposing the youth to their native language leaving them leading to language crossing and the appropriation of Swahili and English for local communication.
h. Most cultural rites and practices such as Naming of children, Rites of passage, Traditional marriage, Dance, Burial and cultural institutions have been relegated/ignored with many adopting/feigning foreign cultures largely due to lack of understanding, knowledge and reference material.
i. This unfortunate scenario has resulted into a generation that shuns Ekegusii and Abagusii culture.
copyright Kennedy Bosire / Nigel Deacon, Diversity website
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