YORUBA & ENGLISH LANGUAGES SHOULD CO-EXIST- Adebayo Adegbembo, founder of Genii Games

Adebayo Adegbembo is an ingenious Nigerian who has evolved various platforms from his deep understanding of Yoruba language. He is pushing the frontiers of the language to ensure that people from Latin America can have access to the language; herein is an excerpt of the interview-

May we meet you?

I am Adebayo Adegbembo, founder of Genii Games where we develop interactive mobile apps and animated videos to help children learn Nigerian languages, ethics, etiquette and more.

How did you learn these languages? 

I grew up in a household where Yoruba remains the language of communication. This is coupled by the fact that Yoruba is the dominant native language in Lagos where I also grew up. With respect to English, I learnt it at school from the nursery level.

When did you create genii games and how easy was it?

Though Genii Games was incorporated in 2013, I started out in 2012 as a way of using technology to make the subject of Nigerian languages fun for kids using games. Starting out, I had to rely on my programming skills but I've since grown to leverage the skills of others as a team, thanks to the support of the Co-Creation Hub (CCHub), my primary partners. Having come out of the Tech-in education competition that was run by them (CCHub), I received support in the areas of funding, mentorship among others.

What made you create the fusion of Yoruba language, culture and technology?

My approach was driven by the need to make Yoruba language fun for kids. Given the subject of our local languages can sometimes seem boring for kids especially in light of other attractions (cartoons, games etc) at their disposal, I found a need to leverage features that they find interesting to help them learn Yoruba. Specifically, the Yoruba101 app uses colorful graphics, animations, text, voice, sound and games to teach Yoruba language and culture.

Where these platforms receptive to your idea at first?

The Yoruba101 app has been well received across the mobile platforms especially abroad. Even then, there's still a lot to do in reaching more people worldwide given the spread of Yoruba people from Nigeria to Latin america.

Do you intend to make all these available on TV for Yoruba children to watch it from the comfort of their homes?

Yes, plans are currently underway to make it such that kids can watch on TV. At the moment, we just launched a series called B.O.L.A (Book of Language awesomeness) which is a 3D animated series built around promoting African languages including Yoruba.

Tell us about the ASA Club? 

The Asa Club is a extension of our works. It runs as a physical workshop (now Digital Storytelling Workshop) where we work with kids across schools, summer camps etc. to build interactive videos and apps. With it, we aim to get children involved in the creative process, inspiring and teaching them useful skills in the design process.

What are the next technological inventions in Yoruba language that you want to work upon?

Presently, we are working to complete the B.O.L.A series.

At what point do you think we need to break away from using English to teach our children Yoruba language?

I think both languages can co-exist as long as the Yoruba language doesn't suffer as it currently does. Hence, there needs to be more effort to encourage the use of Yoruba language to further raise it to the level where we have accepted English today.

What is the prospect for those who understand Yoruba language very well?

The prospects are great. As with any skill or profession today, there's a need to be creative and evolve with growing trends in the areas of technology when it comes to its application.

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