LANGUAGE, LITERATURE, CULTURE AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION
KEY NOTE ADDRESS:
LANGUAGE AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION IN THE 21ST CENTURY
A PAPER PRESENTED AT:
THE 30TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE LINGUISTIC ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (CLAN)
DECEMBER 4TH – 8TH, 2017
IGNATIUS AJURU UNIVERSITY OF EDUCATION, PORT HARCOURT
RIVERS STATE, NIGERIA
DR. MRS. SARAH N. JIBRI
THE ROYAL MOTHER GENERAL OF THE NUPES (JAKADIYA-NUPE WORLDWIDE)
KEYNOTE ADDRESS DELIVERED BY DR. MRS. SARAH JIBRIL ON THE OCCASION OF THE 30TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE LINGUISTIC ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (CLAN), DEC. 4TH - 8TH, CLAN 2017, IN IGNATIUS AJURU UNIVERSITY OF EDUCATION, PORT HARCOURT, RIVERS STATE, NIGERIA, ON TUESDAY DAY, 5th, NOVEMBER, 2017.
Chairman of the Occasion, National President, Linguistic Association of Nigeria (LAN), Prof. Harrison Adeniyi
Representative of the Governor of Rivers State, His Excellency Gov. Nyesom Wike
The Second keynote Speaker, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, Executive Secretary – National Universities Commission (NUC), Abuja
The Lead Paper Speakers: Prof. Ismaila Junaidu, Executive Secretary - National Educational and Research Development Council (NERDC), Abuja &
Prof. Cecilia, A. Eme, Nnamdi Azikwe University, Akwa
Chief Host, Prof. Mekuri Ozo Ndimele, Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, &
Chairman, LOC for CLAN 2017, HOD, English Studies, IAUE
Traditional Rulers, Lord Spiritual and Temporal,
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen &
The Gentlemen Press
It is my honour and pleasure to address the audience on this auspicious occasion of the 30th Annual Conference of the LINGUISTIC ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (CLAN), with the THEME: LANGUAGE, LITERATURE, CULTURE AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION; being hosted by Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Port Harcourt. The high-level turn out at this event, from all over the nation is a clear proof of the commitment of Nigerian academics to participate in worthy development efforts and national development. It is a proof that academics and linguists are concerned and resilient at solving language related problems through language, linguistics and literature that hold promise for improving the lot of our citizenry, particularly in this time of general national distress/unrest in the nation Nigeria, and in Africa in general. Once again, I salute your courage for the THEME OF THE CONFERENCE: LANGUAGE, LITERATURE, CULTURE AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION. This theme is of very timely intervention in our nation Nigeria, in the continent of Africa, and in the world as a whole.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The multi-dimensional, yet integral foundation of language of Conflict and Resolution are biological, social, cultural, psychological, philosophical; in the bid to meet our Basic Human Needs, plus the efforts to influence either for good or evil and goodwill and selfishness. It is evident and worrisome that we as a nation are confronted with wide range of conflicts and resolution challenges. We may not be fighting a physical enemy, but there is certainly a war on. This keynote would therefore revolve around our reason for gathering this morning, which is to flag off the LAN Conference on Language, Literature, Governance and Conflict Resolution. Conflict is an unavoidably integral part of communal existence. Its unfolding is certain but its resolution could be amicable. Conflicts generally unfold, but may I state that majorly, basic use of choice of language and choice of words, to a very large extent could actually douse the embers of its fire.
How others perceive conflicts and their subsequent reactions of language use, which could be positive or negative, is very vital in conflict situations. It is discovered that using inciting words could both instigate and arouse conflicts, which can escalate to attacks and even very bloody attacks. The effects of fowl use of language far outweigh the use of purr words that appeal to emotion. Our language use must be accommodating, cooperating, promoting of peaceful co-existence, whether informally, semi-formally or formally. So also is this in our homes, offices, in the nation and any where we find ourselves. Undoubtedly, appropriate use of language could serve as the best solution to resolution of conflicts.
Please, permit me to commence appropriately with definitions of keywords to remind us and create an understanding of these concepts; though before me are academics and linguists, so we could make a success of this event on: LANGUAGE, LINGUISTICS, CONFLICT, CONFLICT RESOLUTION, GOVERNANCE etc,.
Language is a multifunctional concept and a veritable tool in the grapes of a communicator. The concept of language which is essentially a human means of communication is a pivotal factor in determining segregation or togetherness of any group. As much as it is a unifying factor, language can also serve as a major agent of division, disunity, anarchy, violence and other social mishaps. What is said, is as important as how it is being said, because it has relational tie to the response expected. Sapir (1921), identifies the ‘instinctive’ nature of language, in line with Chomsky’s proposition of language acquisition device (LAD). This presupposes that language is a natural phenomenon, as such every normal natural being (Human) is entitled to its usage. Therefore, it is paramount that it should be utilized effectively for positive realizations. Whenever we explore the negative use of language, we have defiled the intention of our Maker, as the Scripture says, “A soft answer turneth away wrought.” Proverbs 15:1, and the Scriptures cannot be broken.
Linguistics, the scientific study of language is very important in every human endeavor, and modern linguistics in its dexterity is designed and meant to resolve conflicts. This is because; language verily plays a vital function among individuals. Basically, communication is the goal of language. The speech of a person is for a particular reason and intends to convey a specific message. Geoffery Leech (1974) mentioned five functions of language as “informational, expressive, directive, aesthetic and phatic”. Geoffery posits that informational function of language is the “most important”. It cites the message as pivotal. The expressive function of language typifies that the speaker’s feelings and attitudes which are made manifest in the use of words, depicts the writer’s or speaker’s feelings. The directive function of language anticipates the influence of the behaviour of others. These are expressed in the use of commands and requests. The fourth dimension, which is the aesthetic function, posits “the use of language for the sake of the linguistic artifact itself…”
In essence, the mastery of language construction is decisive or critical in maintenance of peace and unity between the government and the governed, and in resolving crises amicably without adverse effects. The imminent hardship, displacement, loss of lives and property, and many more, prevalent in our communities and nation as a whole, is alarming. It is a clear aftermath of ill-managed crises and ill-calculated interventions. The effort of the government today is not commensurate to the level of peace and unity longed for by the masses. It is evident that the crises prevalent in our society have hampered meaningful development of different sectors of our economy and the progress of governance. It is a fact that there can be no meaningful advancement in a crises-stricken environment, and efforts exacted by scholars from different fields have not been effective enough to curb the menace, as such, the need for a more linguistic approach to governance and conflict resolution is eminent and crucial.
6.0 Conceptual clarification:
A branch of linguistics, Applied linguistics, for instance is a “practice driven discipline that addresses language based problems in real-world context” as stated in William (2012). In addition, Brumfit (2005), defines Applied linguistics as “the theoretical and empirical investigation in real-world problems in which language is a central issue”. Applied linguistics is an interdisciplinary field of linguistics which identifies, investigates and offers solutions to language-related-life problems of which conflict and conflict resolution is not just inclusive but central.
7.0 Governance, Conflict and Resolution:
Governance as synonym for government, is the act or process of governing, specifically authoritative direction and control. It involves establishment of policies, continuous monitoring of their policies and proper implementation by the members of the governing body of an organization. The way that organizations or countries are managed at the highest level and the systems for doing this is referred to as governance and its language must be PEACE.
Conflict: A struggle for life, power, space, leadership, property etc. It also refers to a strong disagreement between individuals, people, groups and nations; often resulting in angry arguments, preventing agreement, causing disagreement between ideas, feelings, emotions.
Resolution: The act or process of resolving; the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones. Conflict resolution is conceptualized as the methods and processes involved in facilitating the peaceful ending of conflict and retribution. Conflict resolution involves a variety of approaches aimed at terminating conflicts through the constructive solving of problems, distinct from management of conflict.
8.0 Language and Conflict:
Addressing the importance of language identifies that, the inability of man to prevent crises that definitely results to large scale suffering, is the “lack of awareness and understanding of some of the fundamentals of language”. The study of language should not be an exclusive preserve of linguists and logicians but an enterprise for everyone; it is the duty of us all. The mere fact that we are individuals with different ideologies is a major reason why conflicts cannot be avoided; conflict is an integral part of our relationships, as such, we should always disagree to agree. The basis for conflicts is usually ignorance of the working principles of language, the dynamism of language, the problem of meaning, cases of ambiguity etc. All these problems are prominent as our language challenge! Lack of knowledge of these facts, is the result of different conflicts.
A great and classic instance, for example, what is the difference between addressing our Lord Jesus Christ as: the “Son of God”, “the ‘Saviour’ and ‘Lord’”, “the Messiah”, “ God with us-Emmanuel” in the Holy Bible and referring to Him in the Quran as the “Word of God - Kalimat Allah”, “the Spirit of God - Ru-Allah”, “the Form and Image of God”, “the Messiah ‘the Anointed One’ - Almaseeh” , “ A Miracle”, etc. Which of these terms are stronger? What is the difference! Further, research even shows that, the name Jesus/Isa is mentioned in the Quran (25) twenty five times and the name Mohammed (PBN) four (4) times.
Yet again, another example, what is the difference between naming/calling/ referring to God as Allah, Olodumare, Obangiji, Chineke, Osanobua etc,. See what ignorance of what is written in the Holy Books has caused us!!!
Great conflicts and shedding of blood, just for no reasons! The religious crisis which is now predominantly between the Christians and Muslims is unfounded; using such expressions as infidel enemies, unbeliever, blasphemer, and so on, against ourselves is quite unnecessary. We must ensure to interpret and stop these our differences NOW OR NEVER in Nigeria, Africa and the world at large. How did we get to the use of such unpleasant and dreadful words as: ethic-cleansing, bloodshed, conquest, war, invasion, slaves of war, raids, slaughter, massacre, assailants, etc. But for our political, social-cultural, psychological, and economic ambition and gratifications tied to, and disguised under language of religion.
People that are knowledgeable about language and its workings (the linguists) should therefore prove it, as well as, teach and enlighten others that we are one. This is my message of PEACE. The great and humble woman in the Holy Bible and Quran called Mary/Mariam brought about the positive change between God and man by the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the Old testament, women such as Judith, Esther, Deborah etc. were instruments in the hand of God. The likes of Mary Slessor in the 1930s and 40s, single-handedly saw to the end of barbaric killing of twins in Calabar, today the whole world celebrate multiple birth as normal.
Remember, “The Aba Women Riot” of 1929 by Calalar and Owerri women, when women were fed up with the British colonial masters’ treatment of their husbands and families as they took to the streets to speak, contributed greatly to independence. Madam Efunroye Tinubu led the market women to demonstrate and demand their rights from the colonial masters, while their men folk looked on. Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti challenged in history, the Alake of Abeokuta. In the contemporary Nigeria, among others, Professor Dora Akunyili made NAFDAC to become a household name, to mention a few. I thank you for this singular honour, given to me, to declare this epoch event open as a woman, and a mother in the nation. May the Almighty God honour you too. We women in Nigeria, shall continue always to remain strong for the PEACE of the nation, I promise. We shall continue to take steps to uplift the nation, Nigeria. So dear women, I challenge you to continue to occupy your rightful positions. Arise oh women of Nigeria!!!
I pray (1) We must pray and pay very urgent attention to the family institution, for functional language foundation development, through the families of Nigeria, Africa and even the world. This is imperative now for Nigeria, Africa and the entire world, plus government, parents, families, teachers as co-parents. (2) We must develop community civic development centres, as this by Nigeria and Africa is a must NOW. (Ref. Text). (3) The Socio-Psychology-Principles code: “Always Make Another Person Feel Important” is A MUST! That is the social and psychological test! (4) The faculty of Humanities must be re-assessed and re-positioned to become a reality above scientific and technological departments as exemplary; a re-clarification - if we are serious to re-humanize Nigeria, Africa and the entire world. (5) Think about the ethical and aesthetic finesse of the world, the human beings would glean above the amount of glamour of things, knowledge, prosperity and pleasure as it is now. And this must be above the norms of things!
There is a need to utilize language effectively and exactly to convey information without any problems and ambiguity. According to Geoffery Leech’s function of language, the language of governance is strictly informative and directive, no room for frivolities, non-suitable informalities and insults. To this end, the directive function of language, is used in government to influence the behavior of individuals; specifically in enacting laws and policies to be adhered to, for peaceful co-existence, and so be it.
The fact that the nature of words spoken by an individual determines to a large extent the possible response of an interlocutor; if it would be positive or negative, speech styles predict information contact and could speed up or hamper communication. Words are powerful tools that can make peace to flourish; it can also be a major factor of division. The resolution of conflicts through armed peace or obnoxious law is like tying a dog to a feeble flower, it will definitely break loose. Appropriate use of language would not only serve as best resolution of conflicts, but as preventer of further conflicts. So, I will encourage we all begin and continue the pursuit of PEACE, as God the Creator expects we should all be at PEACE with all men.
The language of the human specie must remain a logical skill of man; and we must accept that human specie is teachable, changeable, developable and transformable. ITS IS POSSIBLE!!!
On this note, I hereby congratulate the entire members of LAN and well wishers, while I declare open “THE 30TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE LINGUISTIC ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (LAN), with the THEME: LANGUAGE, LITERATURE, CULTURE AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION”.
Thank you all for your kind attention.
DR. (MRS.) SARAH N. JIBRIL
(THE ROYAL MOTHER GENERAL OF THE NUPES (JAKADIYA-NUPE WORLDWIDE)
(FIRST FEMALE NIGERIAN PRESIDENTIAL ASPIRANT)
DEC. 4TH - 8TH, CLAN, 2017
IGNATIUS AJURU UNIVERSITY OF EDUCATION PORT HARCOURT
RIVERS STATE - NIGERIA