I spoke with Adebayo Adegbembo, founder of Genii Games, an interactive mobile application and animated videos to help children learn Nigerian languages, ethics, etiquette and more, he uses the Yoruba term for culture, asa as a game logo. During our conversation last month [May], I was interested in finding out why he wanted to create such an app, his thoughts on being an entrepreneur, and a cultural activist.
How did you learn these languages? (Yoruba and English)?
I grew up in a household where Yoruba remains the language of communication. This is coupled by the fact that Yoruba is the dominant native language in Lagos where I also grew up. With respect to English, I learned it at school from the nursery level.
When did you create Genii Games and how easy was it?
What made you create the fusion of Yoruba language, culture and technology?
My approach was driven by the need to make Yoruba language fun for kids. Given the subject of our local languages can sometimes seem boring for kids especially in light of other attractions (cartoons, games etc.) at their disposal, I found a need to leverage features that they find interesting to help them learn Yoruba. Specifically, the Yoruba101 app uses colorful graphics, animations, text, voice, sound and games to teach Yoruba language and culture.
Were platforms that accepted your app (IOS, blackberry and Google store) originally receptive to your idea at first?
The Yoruba101 app has been well received across the mobile platforms especially abroad. Even then, there’s still a lot to do in reaching more people worldwide given the spread of Yoruba people from Nigeria to Latin America.
Do you intend to make all these available on TV for Yoruba children to watch it from the comfort of their homes?
Yes, plans are currently underway to make it such that kids can watch on TV. At the moment, we just launched a series called B.O.L.A (Book of Language awesomeness) which is a 3D animated series built around promoting African languages including Yoruba.
What are the next technological inventions in Yoruba language that you want to work on?
Presently, we are working to complete the B.O.L.A series.
At what point do you think we need to break away from using English to teach our children Yoruba language?
I think both languages can co-exist as long as the Yoruba language doesn’t suffer as it currently does. Hence, there needs to be more effort to encourage the use of Yoruba language to further raise it to the level where we have accepted English today.
What are the prospects for those who understand Yoruba language very well?