The Board of Trustees and Management Committee of the Yorùbá Academy has announced the appointment of Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún as the Programme Director.
Mr Túbọ̀sún, a linguist and writer, took over on September 15, 2020, from Adé Adéagbo who left as Executive Director, the academy said in a statement on Monday.
Until recently, Mr Túbọ̀sún was the Chevening Research Fellow at the British Library in London working on the African language print collections from the 19th Century with focus on Yorùbá, where he worked with Marion Wallace, the Africa Curator.
The Yorùbá Academy, founded in 2007, is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental, multi-disciplinary policy institution set up to foster a culture of Yorùbá learning and civilisation. Former Minister of Education, Babátúndé Fáfúnwá, was the Academy’s first Chairman Board of Trustees. The current Chairman is General Alani Akinrinade.
Profile of the new Programme Director
Mr Túbọ̀sún, 39, holds a Master’s in Linguistics/Teaching English as a Second Language from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, United States (2012), and a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics from the University of Ìbàdàn, Nigeria (2005).
He is both a Fulbright (2009) and Chevening (2019) and has worked in education in both Nigeria and The United States. He is also a creative writer, scholar, travel writer, poet, and translator, with work both in Yorùbá and in English. His first collection of poetry was titled Edwardsville by Heart, published in 2018. His work has been translated to Korean, Italian, and Spanish.
In early September 2020, he coordinated a Webinar on Yorùbá Orthography titled How Should We Write Yorùbá? which featured Yorùbá writers, scholars, publishers, and enthusiasts, like Karin Barber from London School of Economics, Túndé Adégbọlá from the African Language Technology Initiative, Mọlará Wood from Ouida Books, Adélékè Adéẹ̀kọ́ from Ohio University, Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò from Cornell University, Carli Coetzee from the Journal of African Cultural Studies, Mosúnmọ́lá Adéòjó from Florida University, and Àrẹ̀mú Adéọlá Jr, a student from the University of Lagos.
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From 2015, Mr Túbọ̀sún founded the Yorùbá Names Project, housed at YorubaName.com, which is the first multimedia dictionary of Yorùbá. The project has expanded to other Nigerian language-based projects and ideas like IgboNames.com, TTSYoruba.com, the Yorùbá/Igbo tone marker, and a monolingual dictionary of Yorùbá at YorubaWord.com.
In 2016, while working at Google on a Nigerian English project, Mr Túbọ̀sún helped change the mistranslation of Èṣù on Google Translate. The Nigerian English voice on Google Maps and Assistant is the first project of its kind by any tech giant tailored to the Nigerian audience. The Google GBoard app that allows easy tone marking of Yorùbá words on mobile phones was also one of the projects he worked on at the company.
In 2011, Mr Túbọ̀sún successfully led a campaign to pressure Twitter to add Yorùbá to its list of languages into which the platform was being translated. He has also worked as a freelance translator and literary translator from Yorùbá to English and English to Yorùbá.
In June 2016, he became the first African to be awarded the Premio Ostana Special Prize by Chambra D’Oc in Cuneo, Italy, for his work in indigenous language advocacy. Since 2017, he has worked as a consultant for the Oxford English Dictionary.
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