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Towards mastery of basic elements in English language

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This book is an introduction to the practical use of English and communication skills. The book’s bifurcated content is Okafor & Okafor’s way of breaking the trite norm of separating the use of English from the practice of communication skills. It is the authors’ effort at showing, while contributing intellectually both to the fields of language and of communication; the fundamental, symbiotic relationship between language and communication.

 

While Okafor & Okafor’s book is like Akinbande (1999), it is unlike Adegbite, Adekoya & Adegoju (2012) in that there is first a detailed introduction to English Language use, as it is required for undergraduates and other non-native users of the language. This sets a commendable background that suffices for the application of these basics to the eventual communicative performance of the language user (or reader).

 

The book is written in 15 chapters, which may be categorised into two parts of nine and six chapters respectively. The first part discusses topics in language, its total concept and history; grammar; comprehension and essay writing; literature; and the requisite study skills for the reader’s active competence in all aforementioned. The second part discusses topics in communication and its forms, as realised in oral presentations, correspondence and report writing – the last two of which are primarily guided by the adequate knowledge of registers and the expression of meaning such as denotation and connotation.

 

Communication, the practical product of the use of language, Okafor & Okafor (2017, p.181) define it as “the exchange of information from a sender to a receiver.” This position is further supported by certain relatable illustrations cited in their explanations of the forms of communication, especially non-verbal communication where elements like drama, gestures are regarded as pieces of information that may be exchanged between one entity – the sender – and another – the receiver.

 

Equally, the discussion of the growingly popular view of functional linguistics that the understanding of contexts of situation brings into play the “tenor of discourse” – one of three determining elements – illustrates that there is no communication without a sender and a receiver, both of whom may be persons or groups of persons.

 

It should further be noted that correspondence, as discussed in the book, illustrates that communication – especially that of this kind – is “exchanged between two or more parties” (Okafor & Okafor, 2017, p.227). As it has already been stated, the book is a rare and commendable effort at integrating the concepts of language and communication (compare Akinbande, 1999). While this may elsewhere raise the question of methodical, stylistic and theoretical inconsistency; Okafor & Okafor have done relatively well in maintaining both method and style but theory.

 

Unarguably, the established choice of theory in the book is Traditional Grammar – a rather prescriptive, restrictive, unrefined and non-scientific approach to language study, which despite this, remains favoured in the teaching of the use of English even in tertiary institutions. It is our opinion that TG is favoured in this environment because of its definitive rules which are more easily taught and learnt than the similarly prescriptive but computational Chomskyean theories and the largely descriptive Hallidayean theories in English as a Second Language, ESL situations What makes these theoretical inadequacies not spelt out is that the authors have not gone into the description of the many models available for use.

 

They have instead described elements of the language and the communication process themselves using a chosen model. The rigid and prescriptive nature of this model tends to make one presume that the authors would take it as far as specifying, for instance, steps to be taken in answering comprehension questions. While this may be a good guide for non-native language users, its restrictiveness might limit the expressive skills and ability of the said user.

 

The method used in the book however, calls the stated points “(some) tips and strategies to answering comprehension questions” (Okafor and Okafor, 2017, p.130). This reaffirms the fact earlier stated that the method applied in the book is relatively consistent, but since consistency is not adequacy, it is important that we address this issue. Okafor and Okafor’s method of handling the description of examples and exposition of concepts is clearly inadequate.

 

It is an advantage that both language and communication have almost exhaustively been addressed in the book, but the authors have not given non-native language users with only little or poor background in both fields enough to understand the book’s overall content. This problem starts with the table of contents. A book with 15 chapters discussing two clearly defined but interrelated concepts should be organised into two parts that may easily be titled: Language and Communication, respectively, where Part One has the first nine chapters and Part Two, the last six chapters.

 

Adding to this inadequacy of method is the consistent introduction of exercises for students to test themselves after studying each sub-topic in the book. While it is understandable that the authors have done this to avail students and other readers of a large number of exercises, it should be noted that students would because of it, be prone to inconsistency of thought and unwanted breaks in study.

 

Lastly, the causal relationship between an inconsistent theoretical background and an inadequate method is that the authors have largely borrowed from other authors who, as it would turn out, probably have opposing theoretical inclinations to that of Okafor & Okafor (2017). For instance, with irregular differences, sections under the functions of human language, the process of communication, and consonant sounds are almost direct writings from Adetutu & Akinyode (2008a; 2008b).

 

The last chapter, Fifteen on report writing is in fact culled from Adetutu & Akinyode (2008b). While most of these large chunks are referenced, it allows for inconsistency in the authors’ thoughts. This book is a primarily traditional approach to the teaching of the use of English and communication. The advantage of TG as a model that states definitive rules for the effective use of language and its practical result – communication – makes the book comprehensible to its target readers. In summary, the text, though theoretically and methodically defective, has in the overall, employed a style that is functionally effective in achieving the purpose of teaching at least the basics of language and communication.

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Arts & Entertainments

Values, morality as panacea for unity, development

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Title: Music of the Muezzin
Author: R. Adebayo Lawal
Publisher: Kraftgriots
Year of Publication: 2014
Pages: 60
Reviewer: Mahfouz A. Adedimeji

 

Against the sorry state of our world that has lost its moorings, resulting in the Hobbesian conception of life as being “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short,” Adebayo Lawal in his second collection of poems, Music of the Muezzin, offers us a way out of the miasma. Through a blending of soulful sounds, delicious lines of pure poetry that offer us sense from the pervading nonsense beclouding our global horizons, the poet draws our attention to the need to uphold morality and promote character in our lives.

 

Basically, Music of the Muezzin is a collection of 38 poems divided into six unequal parts: “Pro-Song: Symphony of the Lonesome Lark”, “Invocation: the Cock’s Mystical Music,” “Smiles of Sorrow,” “Exhortation: Cryptic Clauses of Counsel”, “The Snail’s Courage” and “Epi-Songs: True Time is but Timelessness”. As common to most works of poetry, the themes are as diverse as the poems artistically woven in the compelling collection, but one thesis that reverberates across the work is the need for values and morality in our society. This the author does by distilling messages that tantalize or religious, moral, cultural and ethical sensibilities.

 

The first poem in the collection is the “eponymous” poem (i.e. the poem that gives the collection its title) where the poet explains the impact of the muezzin’s call to prayer on him. The rationale for putting the poem first is most likely informed by the fact that when a baby is born in Islam, the first thing he hears is the adhan or call to prayer. We then have the poet’s interpretation of the magnificence of His Creator, Whose majesty he celebrates in “The paradox of your presence” (p.12).

 

However, the first two parts are not about Islam and faith alone. There is a striking poem, “Lines for a don”, dedicated to his teacher, Prof. David William, with which the poet decries the decline in the academics, which is of interest to every lecturer or don. In his usual inter-lock of sense with sound, a major stylistic feature of the collection, our poet takes a swipe at academic shoddiness and intellectual laziness, a cankerworm that seems to have seeped, or sneaked like a thief in the night, into our ivory towers. The sense is compelling in describing various types of dons in lovely lines and repetitive sonority before upholding the standard as symbolised by the teacher: “There are dunces / And there are dons. / Dons by distinction, / Dons by connection / Dons by compassion / Dons by constipation. / The mafia don, / Done by cruel connection, / Is the Don Juan / Thriving on a code of terror.” … (p.20)

 

There are interesting poems in Part Three, which begins with “The multinational tycoon’s theory”, a witty and humorless poem that ascribes the black man’s tragedy to the accident of creation. He lampoons the archetypal politician in our era of politics without principle describing him in powerful imagery using the bat metaphor: “Bird by day/ Rat by night/ The bat vies with the vulture/ And races with the rodent.” (p.25).

In “Damsel of the ivory tower” (p.31) and “City damsel” (p.32), Lawal has urgent and pungent messages for the students who waste their present and future on illicit sexual adventures.

 

For the latter poem (i.e. “City damsel”) that exploits the computer imagery, the warning to men is that the city damsel is not more than a lovely laptop with a caveat: when you “insert a randy flash-drive / You end up with a vicious virus” (p.31).

 

The third part under consideration contains the longest poem in the collection, “Smiles of sorrow” (p.34), which drives home the need for character and morality in our society.

 

In Parts Four and Five, the author offers antidotes to our troubled and troubling times while canvassing the virtues of love (i.e. “True love”(p.38); “We are all one” (p.39)) reason (“Who are you? (p.40); “Rat race or human race? (p.41)), religious tolerance and righteousness (i.e. “The cannibals” (p.42), “The bubble shall burst” (p.48), “Blessed are they” (p.52)) and other poems of similar thematic concerns. There are also well-crafted poems in this section like “Ilorin” (p.45) which offers a food-for-thought that everyone would like to relish and “In the long run” (p.47) which gives poetic expression to the maxim, “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

 

Generally, this collection is “larger than its frame” in terms of the profundity of the timeless messages that make good sense for our troubled season in a world that is going amok. It is a call to action to eschew what is morally bad, religiously sinful and ethically repugnant in our day-to-day interactions.

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Literature

Sam Dede supports PHLS Poetry Slam

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The PHLS Poetry Slam has received a major boost from acclaimed and award-winning actor, Dr. Sam Dede, with the institution of the Sam Dede Prize for Best Spoken Word Artist.

 

Dede made the announcement in Port Harcourt when he spoke with the Resident Poet of the Port Harcourt Literary Society, Chijioke Amu-Nnadi. He commended the Society for energizing literature in Port Harcourt.

 

“What you guys are doing is quite remarkable and deserves the support of every well-meaning artist and sponsor of the arts,” Dede said.

 

The actor, whose inspiring performance in Isakaba earned him Africa’s top acting honours, stated that the Prize comes with cash and a plaque.

The Sam Dede Prize is in addition to the N100,000 already set aside by the Society for the winner of the PHLS Poetry Slam. Other prizes are N75,000 for first runner-up and N50,000 for the second runner-up. A fourth prize of N25,000 will go to the best Spoken Word poet from one of the secondary schools which have benefited from the Society’s monthly PHLS Literature for Teens programme.

 

The PHLS Poetry Slam, already described as Nigeria’s biggest Poetry Slam, will be judged by award-winning poets, Efe Paul Azino, Andrew Patience, Obii Ifejika and Graciano Enwerem.

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Literature

Bwl agency awarded best public relation in Western Africa at Sabre awards

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Agency, founded by 30-year-old Ronke BamIsedun have surfaced as winners of The Gold SABRE Award for Public Relations campaigns in
Western Africa and have been awarded two certificates of excellence in two categories.

They were also shortlisted alongside some of the largest brands and agencies in the world for The Platinum SABRE Award for Best in show, the highest category of the award.

BWL is a strategic brand development company composed of a team of young, hard-working, bold communication consultants who build brands and help them deliver compelling campaigns that cut through the noise. An exclusive affiliate of top global communications
agency GRAYLING.

Their unique disruptive campaign for Jameson Connects Nigeria secured them The Gold SABRE Awards and The Platinum SABRE Award shortlist, whilst the fun curiosity led FOLLOW THE SWIFT campaign for Martell Cognac earned them certificates of excellence in the practice area categories: Marketing to consumers (new product) and Food and beverage.

The SABRE (Superior Achievement in Branding, Reputation & Engagement) Awards is the world’s biggest Public Relations Awards Program, dedicated to benchmarking the best PR work from across the globe. The award ceremony took place on Thursday, May 10 th in Gaborone, Botswana. The gala dinner was part of the African Public Relations Association’s annual conference.

Present to receive the award and certificates of Excellence at the gala dinner, was Ronke Bamisedun Founder of BWL and a member of the elite 2018 class of Forbes 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa under 30 says “We are ecstatic and humbled with our Gold SABRE Award and Excellence Certificates.

This amazing accomplishment has been a great positive reinforcement for my team and I, further emphasizing BWL as a company, albeit small, that can transcend borders, disciplines and compete with the largest PR firms in the world”.

BWL have also been shortlisted as finalists for the Upcoming SABRE EMEA, nominated for The Gold SABRE AWARD under the geographical category of Africa. The 2018 EMEA SABRE Awards shortlist was selected from over 2,500 global entries. The competition recognizes “Superior Achievement in Branding, Reputation and Engagement”.

The winner of this award will be announced on Saturday May 23 rd at the annual awards dinner in Amsterdam.

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