TRANSLATION: A PANACEA FOR BRIDGING COMMUNICATION GAP IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT SYSTEM

ABSTRACT
Translation as a vehicle for effective communication has contributed in so many ways in education, information dissemination, cultural transfer, etcetera. However, in the rural area where majority are not literate in the use of English language, translation seems not to have been effectively utilized as government communicates to the teeming population there mainly in the English language, which is the country’s official language. As a result, there is a total breakdown in communication as the masses are kept in the dark about activities of government, some of which require participation by the people. This has devastatingly affected the pace of rural development. The question is whether translated materials can enhance information dissemination at the rural area considering that many people can hardly read materials written in their indigenous language? This study intends to provide answer to this question. In the end, we hope to contribute towards the efficiency of local government system as a veritable tool for grassroots mobilization. We investigated the impact of Igbo translation of the law stopping all forms of traditional/ cultural maltreatment against anyone who loses spouse and the law permitting women to bear children by the Women’s Aid Collective (WACOL). We were guided by five research questions and four hypotheses in the formulation of the questionnaires used in gathering information. We first used systematic sampling technique to select the 15 Local Governments sampled for this study and later applied random sampling technique to distribute the questionnaires. Our analyses were presented in tables with each table accompanied by a description of the decision arising from the analyses. We presented summary of our findings based on the result of our analyses. Our conclusion is that the people at the rural area are not always aware of the translated versions of government policies and programmes. As a result, translation has not contributed much in information dissemination at the rural area. Government should therefore ensure that these policies and programmes, which are originally in the English language, are translated into the indigenous languages and circulated widely to the people for their understanding and appreciation. We made some recommendations which we hope will help to ameliorate the problems.


CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1      Background of the Study
Many researchers have in the past looked at various uses of translation in solving problems of the society. For example, there have been studies on the use of translation in literature (literary translation), the communicative use of translation where issues such as ‘Translation in Nigerian Languages for the Mass, Print and Electronic Media’, etcetera were treated. This current study has tried to focus on local government system with a view to finding out the relevance of translation in bridging communication gap in the local area.

Local government system was established in Nigeria for the main aim of bringing government activities closer to the people at the grassroots level. It was believed that by creating the local government system, the people at the grassroots will always be aware of government policies and programmes and be able to participate in government activities for the good of the rural area. Nwokike (2006:232) captures this fact where he observes that local governments serve two broad purposes of:

1.      enabling many public services to be provided at a level nearer to the people whom the services benefit;
2.      enabling local political opinion to be organized and expressed

Oyediran (1998:40) also succinctly present the reasons for the creation of Local Government as follows:

1.              Local Government is created to provide certain basic services for the citizens at the local level;

2.              Local government is the nearest government to the citizens at the local level;
3.              Through local government, local people jointly solve common problems and needs, which could not be solved by the individual alone;

4.              Local government gives the citizens the opportunity to practice democracy;
5.              Local government is a useful instrument for the central and state governments in the governance of a country.

The Political Bureau set up by the Babangida administration in 1986 in its main report (Report of the Political Bureau, March 1987:120) acknowledged this fact where it stated that local government is a viable instrument for rural transformation and for the delivery of social services to the people. The Bureau further states that local governments are best equipped to transform rural areas as a result of the following factors:

1.      Proximity to the people: - People at the grassroot are only able to understand and organize local government because they are able to feel its presence and impact on their day-to-day activities.

2.      Responsiveness: - A government operating at the grassroot level is more likely to be attuned to the needs of the people.
3.      Simplicity of Operation: - Local government organizations are usually not complex and generally do not really require sophisticated and highly qualified personnel for effective performance.

Problem, however, arises where more than half of the populations at the grassroots are not literate in English language, which is the official language of Nigeria. Momoh (1993) in Akeredolu-Ale (1993:16) notes that this situation forces the rural communities to play a secondary role, usually as observers, rather than active participants in matters affecting their lives.

Since more than half of the population cannot understand English language, how then can information on policies and programmes of government be communicated to them? How can information on the happenings around the world be communicated to them at this period of globalization? The need for proper information dissemination cannot be over-emphasized. The world is presently a global village whereby whatever affects people in one part affects other people in other parts. A case at hand is the recent economic meltdown, which affected the entire world, and every nation is seriously battling to come out of it. The stock market was affected both locally and internationally.

The purpose of a particular act of communication, according to Knowles in Hickey (1998:103), may be to transmit to somebody a message, which results in the increment of the recipient’s knowledge. Umanah in Akeredolu-Ale (1993:163) also succinctly identifies that the central purpose of communication is the mobilization of the rural population for rural development.

Language is a vehicle for communication, but language for communication must be one that must be understood by the receiver of the information, otherwise, there would be communication gap. Communication gap is mainly caused by language barrier and illiteracy (Okigbo and Nsiegbunam, 2000:290; Nwokike, 2006:55; James, Ode and Soola (1990) quoted by Oden in Ndimele, 2004:126; Oden in Ndimele, 2004:126). Therefore, translation could serve as the only option.

Uwaezuoke (2002:29) had quoted Mamu (2000) as saying, “If local government which is the third tier of government must function more effectively and efficiently than before, the grassroots should be sensitized to participate in development projects. This can be achieved by relating effectively with the communities to offer themselves for participation in development programmes”. He argues that without the participation of the communities, the objectives of local government could not be achieved. In line with this view, the Presidential Committee on Review of 1999 Constitution (PCRC) in its main report, volume I (2001) pointed out that the Committee was cautious in considering the issues canvassed for an acceptable local government system to take account of the development needs of vast majority of Nigerians to whom local government is closest.

How then can the grassroots be sensitized? Using English language as has always been the case would continue to be counter-productive. The situation therefore, calls for indigenous language option.

Odunlami (1999:105) suggests the broadcast of more programmes on both the radio and television in local languages, while the print media should endeavour to produce and circulate more vernacular newspapers. Umanah (1993) in Akeredolu-Ale (1993:168) also recommends the sponsoring of special local language supplements for targeted rural populations and for special mobilization projects when and if circumstances become compelling.

This study equally upholds the view that translation of government policies and programmes as well as other necessary information from other parts of the world from our official language, which is English and/or other foreign language(s), to our indigenous languages will immensely contribute in breaking the communication gap existing at the rural areas. This is because by translating them into the indigenous languages, communication with the rural communities would be made easy as they can understand and fully participate through shared ideas. For as put by House (2009:3); “with translation, however, communicative events are reduplicated for people originally prevented from participating in, or appreciating, the original events”.

However, it is one thing to translate government policies and programmes into the indigenous languages and another thing for the target audience to be aware of that or understand the translation. This is because many people cannot read materials written in their indigenous language.

We have therefore in this study tried to find out whether the translated materials would have any effect on information dissemination at the grassroots. We intend to investigate the impact of Igbo translation of the law stopping all forms of traditional/ cultural maltreatment against anyone who loses spouse and the law permitting women to bear children by the Women’s Aid Collective (WACOL).

1.2      Statement of the Problem
The problem the researcher focuses on is the inadequate mobilization of the people at the rural area for grassroots development and the role translation plays as a viable means of breaking the jinx.

Nigeria adopted the English language as the official language of the nation because of the multilingual nature of the country, which made it difficult for the different ethnic nationalities to understand one another. But the vast majority of Nigerians who live at the rural area are not literate in the use of the English language. As a result, rather than solving the problem of communication, the adoption of the English language for the nation worsens the situation as communication to the people at the rural area becomes almost impossible. This leads to breakdown in communication and the masses kept in the dark about activities of government some of which require participation by the people. This situation negatively affects the pace of rural development.

This study opines that government policies and programmes as well as other information that are for the consumption of the people should be translated into the indigenous language for easy communication and implementation.

We do not, however, loose sight of the fact that not everybody can read materials written in their indigenous languages. Against this backdrop, this work intends to find out how far translated materials can go in enhancing information dissemination at the rural area. Our result enabled us to make useful suggestions.

1.3      Research Questions
In order to locate possible solution to the research problem, the following questions have been asked:
(1)              Are government policies and programmes translated into the indigenous language?
(2)              Are the rural people aware of the translated versions of government policies and programmes?
(3)              How far has translation contributed in information dissemination at the grassroots?
(4)              How far has translation of government policies and programmes ensured good governance in the local government system?
(5)              Are the translated versions of the government policies and programmes made available to the people at the grassroots?

1.4      Objectives of the Study
The decision to investigate on this area of research resulted from the very problem of poor information dissemination to the vast majority of the people living at the rural area and the need to find a way of making local government system more effective.

Apart from giving the reader a general idea of the relevance of translation to modern day communication, this study is designed to examine the following:

1.      Whether government policies and programmes are translated into the
indigenous language of the target audience.

2.      Whether the translation of government policies and programmes into indigenous languages can actually bridge the communication gap in the rural area;

3.      How aware the people at the rural area are about translated versions of the government policies and programmes.
4.     The medium for letting the people at the rural area know about the translated materials.
5.      How far translated versions have enabled the effective implementation of government policies and programmes.

1.5      Significance of the Study
Local government is a grassroots government aimed at bringing government activities closer to the people as well as mobilizing them for participation in government activities. The reverse, however, seems to be the case in virtually all the local governments throughout the federation as the rural people are deprived of the activities of government because of communication gap and some other factors. As a result, a lot of people remain in doubt about the usefulness of local government system.

Researchers had in the past proffered solutions on how to make local governments more effective. This study is not unmindful of all those past contributions but hopes that through this angle, it would add to various suggestions/ recommendations on how best to make local government system more effective.

Moreover, this study is considered timely as the National Assembly is presently on the move to amend the 1999 Constitution. Therefore, our recommendations shall hopefully be communicated to the National

Assembly and it would assist them in arriving at fruitful enactment on local government system. The Daily Independent Newspaper in its edition on Friday, May 28, 2010:7 reported that the Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi, had on Thursday, 6th May 2010 signed into Law a bill to enforce the speaking and writing of the Igbo language and its wide use among the Igbo in the State and outside. The Newspaper also quoted the Governor as saying that the Igbo language would henceforth be compulsory in all educational institutions in the State, just like English and Mathematics. It is our belief that the result of our investigations shall ginger the state government to see the need to have government policies and programmes translated into Igbo language for the benefit of the rural communities.

1.6       Research Hypotheses
For the purpose of this study and based on the questions asked, the following hypotheses have been formulated:

(1.)       Government policies and programmes are translated into the
                               indigenous language of the target audience.
                  (2.)       The rural people are aware of the translated versions of government policies and                                    programmes.
                   (3.)       Translation   has   contributed   immensely   to   information dissemination at the                                    grassroots.
                  (4.)       Translation of government policies and programmes has ensured good                                                    governance  in the local government system.

1.7 Scope and Delimitation of the Study
Although this study intends to investigate the impact of translation in bridging communication gap in the rural area, it will be difficult for us to cover all the local government areas in the federation. This is because the size of the local government areas in Nigeria is so vast that one can hardly investigate all within the limited time allowed for this research to be concluded. Neither will it be easy for us to investigate all the local government areas in Anambra State.

Therefore, to work within the ambits of this study, we are limiting ourselves to Anambra State. We shall further limit ourselves to fifteen out of the twenty-one local government areas in Anambra State.

1.8      About The Translated Law
The Law known as “Anambra State of Nigeria 2005, Laws No. 5 and 7” seek to stop all forms of maltreatments permitted by culture against the widows/ widowers, and to empower women on child-bearing.

The Laws, which were passed by the Anambra State House of Assembly and signed into Law in 2005 by the then Executive Governor, Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige, is made up of twelve (12) sections.

The Law was considered very vital because of the need to stop all forms of culture permitted inhuman treatment being meted to the widows. Prior to its passage, many churches and organizations had continued to kick against such ill treatments, as they are crimes against humanity. A lot of communiqué had in the past been issued by those groups to condemn such acts. For example, the Anglican Diocese on the Niger had in one of her synods condemned such acts and even gone ahead to prohibit that among her faithful. But the stumbling block was the language in which this law was written (English). With the translation of this law into our indigenous language, the effective understanding and implementation of it is what we are battling out to reap its proceeds.

Among the groups that fight this ugly menace is the Women’s Aid Collective (WACOL). This is a non-governmental organization established by a group known as African Commission on Human and People’s Right (ACHPR). Its main objective is to fight for people’s freedom in Africa.

The Women’s Aid Collective (WACOL) also stands out to fight for the right of the children and the youth, women and men, to ensure that everybody is given his rightful place in the society. This accounted for why it saw the need for this Law to permeate all the nooks and crannies of the Igbo land especially to the people of Anambra State for whom it was made by having it translated from English language into the Igbo language.

The translation was necessitated by the fact that majority of the people of Anambra State who reside in the rural area are not literate in the use of the English language, the official language of Nigeria. If the Law should be left to remain as passed in the English language, a lot of people might end up not being aware of its existence and therefore, the aim of enacting it would be defeated.

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Attribute: 62 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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