Rudolf Gaudio (Purchase College, SUNY), presents,
"Wazobia City: Language as Infrastructure in Nigeria’s Capital".
Billed as the “centre of unity,” Abuja, Nigeria’s planned capital city, concretizes a postcolonial ideology of nation-building known as Wazobia, an amalgamation of the respective words for “come” in Nigeria’s three major indigenous languages: Yoruba (wa), Hausa (zo), and Igbo (bia). But how, linguistically, are Nigerians supposed to come together as one? Although Wazobia indexes multilingualism, the official language of Nigeria is English, promoted, like Abuja, as a means of uniting the nation and facilitating its citizens’ participation in the global economy. On a more popular level, Nigerian Pidgin, a.k.a. Naija, has come to be heard as a more accessible and authentic medium of Nigerian nationhood. Yet not all Nigerians have equal access to Pidgin; Hausa-speaking Muslims are especially unlikely to speak it. This talk explores how Abuja residents with different ethnolinguistic affiliations use language, along with other objects and practices, to come together and to stay apart. With a focus on public discourse (marketplace interactions, radio programming), I aim to demonstrate how language-in-use constitutes part of the material and social infrastructure of both the city and the nation. A key feature of this infrastructure is receptive multilingualism, which arguably represents a linguistic adaptation to resource scarcity and unequal distribution.
All are welcome! Join us in 7400 for refreshments after the talk!