The Need for Local Content in Writing
According to Abdul Waheed Khan, in his paper presented in a UNESCO and World Summit on the Information Society, “Local content is an expression and communication of a community’s locally generated, owned and adapted knowledge and experience that is relevant to the community’s situation”.
Why do we need to infuse expressions, contents, experiences and knowledge from our immediate surrounding into our writing? Local content is important for national development. It is a product that nations, countries and communities should seize to promote culture and indigenous ideologies. It gives our writings a home and a soul. For example, Chinese writers will always refer to table tennis as ping pong.
Those of us who attended primary school in the late 80s and early 90s struggled with the concept of “A for apple”. Except those who had relations that could afford imported apples from Kingsway stores.
Read: The Art of Story Writing
The educational, social, economic, political, and religious despondence of today’s African society is highly related to the reliance of most of us on non-local content leaving the often rich, compactable and prized native produce to die slowly without reference to it.
As a teacher, I am amazed that my Nigerian pupils don’t get the relationship between garri and cassava. I was once asked what the English name for garri was. Africans need to discover the value of their locally generated information, to ensure organization, dissemination and application of the same information in all facets of life’s activities, especially literature.
Stiglitz (1998) opines that the vision of knowledge transfer as a sort of conveyor belt moving in one direction from the rich, industrialized countries, to the poor and developing ones, is likely to lead to failure and resentment. Therefore, development activities, especially those that aim to benefit the local communities directly, need to consider local knowledge in the design and implementation stages of the process. This is more imperative in the design and production of texts and materials to be used in schools (especially primary schools).
Local content in our literature can help stimulate a cultural rebirth and awaken nationalism.
Examples of Local content areas
- People’s names
- Indigenous food
- Names of Sports teams
- Names of cultural artefacts, dances, costumes etc