Lotanna Igwe-Odunze (popularly known as @Sugabelly on Twitter) recently published a new Igbo writing system she invented back in 2009. Over the years between then and now she has been refining and perfecting it. The Ńdébé script merges ancient Ìgbò designs with modern practicality thus creating a more functional writing system for modern-day Igbos.
In explaining the need for this new writing system she said:
‘The vagaries of history, but British colonisation and missionary evangelism especially, suppressed the natural growth and development of Igbo as a language and a medium of expression and communication.
Long after Nigeria and Ìgbò people received independence, our language never caught up with the modern world.
Today, Ìgbò is a threatened, if not endangered language because, no matter how many initiatives and meetings we attend to encourage people to speak Ìgbò, our language will never truly flourish until we write and read widely in Ìgbò.
The limitations of the Latin alphabet introduced by English are a well known and deep source of frustration for everyone who has ever tried to read or write Ìgbò.
Has built in tone notation, and introduces a revolutionary method of visually representing the Ìgbò tones, meaning you will never again struggle to figure out the tone of a word. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾Covers the full range of Ìgbò phonemes by introducing for the first time in Igbo history, characters for the interchangeable Ìgbò sounds such as R/L, F/H, etc. 👊🏾👊🏾👊🏾Enforces correct Ìgbò spelling through its syllabic structure. 👌🏾👌🏾👌🏾Is a visually stunning, intangible cultural heritage to fortify our Ìgbò identity for generations. 👶🏾👧🏽👦🏾”
Well done Lotanna!
As expected this genius work has been well received, here are a few tweets expressing this:
Yassssss, global is the way to go.
Some people with two heads have started writing in Ńdébé already.
A Japanese joins the group chat.
Other Nigerians in the group chat.
And some people now see the light.
And if you’re wondering how easy or hard it will be for you to learn to use this system Lotanna has this to say:
You’ve probably seen Hanzi / Kanji / Hanja at least once in your life.
It’s the Chinese script shared by China, Japan, and Korea, and it has over 50,000 characters. By the end of primary school, the average:
Chinese child knows about 2500 hanzi characters by heart.
Japanese child knows about 1000 kanji characters by heart.
ŃDÉBÉ HAS ONLY 1174 CHARACTERS.
Only 97 of them must be memorised to able to read and write Ìgbò competently.
You’re smarter than a 10 year old.
You can definitely do this.
We believe her.