Kola Tubosun

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Kola Tubosun
Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún in Lagos (2020).png
Tubosun (2020)
Born
Kọ́láwọlé Olúgbémiró Ọlátúbọ̀sún Ọládàpọ̀

22 September 1981 (1981-09-22) (age 39)
Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria
Other namesKola Olatubosun
Alma mater
Occupation
Known forYorùbá Name Project, Nigerian English Google Assistant, Writing
Notable work
"Edwardsville by Heart", a collection of poetry
Spouse(s)Temie Giwa
Websitekolatubosun.com

Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún is a Nigerian linguist, writer, translator, scholar, and cultural activist.[1][2][3] His work and influence span the fields of education, technology, literature, journalism, and linguistics. He is the recipient of the 2016 Premio Ostana "Special Prize" for Writings in the Mother Tongue. (Ostana Premio Scritture in Lingua Madre) for his work in language advocacy.[4][5][6] He writes in Yoruba and English.

Biography[edit]

Tubosun was born in Ibadan, Nigeria on September of 1981. He holds a Masters in Linguistics from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (2012) and a BA from the University of Ibadan (2005).[citation needed] He also studied briefly at Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya, in April 2005, as part of a MacArthur Foundation-sponsored Socio-Cultural Exchange Program.[citation needed]

He was a Fulbright scholar from 2009 through which he taught Yoruba at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville until 2010. His debut collection of poetry/travelogue "Edwardsville by Heart" covers this period.[7] In 2010, while still in the US, he worked as a volunteer adult literacy tutor, with resettled immigrants, at the International Institute of St. Louis, Missouri.[citation needed] In 2012, he completed a Masters in Linguistics/TESL and returned to Lagos, Nigeria to take up a job as a high school teacher of English language.[citation needed]

Since 2015, he has worked as a linguist, first at Google Nigeria as a Speech Linguistics Project Manager (2015-2016) and later from February 2019 to December 2019 as a Project Manager for Natural language processing tasks in African languages.[8]

His work of advocacy during this period has focused on the role of African languages in today's world, especially in technology, education, literature, governance, and entertainment. He founded the "Yorùbá Names Project", a lexicography project, to show how technology can help in revitalizing local languages. As a writer, he has produced work in travel writing, travel poetry, essays on literature, scholarly writings, journalism, and fiction.

From September 2019 to September 2020, he was a Chevening Fellow at the British Library in London as a Research Fellow on the Library's African language printed collection from the 19th Century.[9]

In September 2020, he was appointed Programme Director of Yoruba Academy in Ibadan.[10][11][12]

Linguistics, lexicography, and language advocacy[edit]

Tubosun is renowned for his work in linguistics and language advocacy. He has written extensively on the need to empower Nigerian languages, and Nigerian English, to function effectively in education, technology, governance, and literature. He has also engaged in projects in furtherance of these objectives.[13]

In 2012, he led a successful campaign to have Twitter include Yoruba (his mother tongue) in the list of languages into which the platform was being translated.[14][15][16][17][18]

In March 2015, he founded the "Yorùbá Names Project" at YorubaName.com[19][20] as an effort to document all names in Yoruba in an accessible multimedia format. The project also released a free Yorùbá Keyboard software for Mac and Windows to allow its users type in Yorùbá language and Igbo on the internet.[21][22][23]

Tubosun's team at Google Nigeria was behind the Nigerian English voice/accent on Google platforms.[24][25][26] The voice was launched in July 2019.[27] His collaboration at Google was helpful in getting Nigerian language diacritics into GBoard, and also correcting the mistranslation of the Esu, the Yoruba trickster god, on Google Translate.[28][29][30][31] He has also worked with Google Arts & Culture on some of its exhibits in Nigeria and Kenya.

He has also worked as a consultant for Oxford English Dictionary since 2018 on Nigerian English and Yoruba entries. Some new words from Nigerian English were added to the OED in December 2019.[32]

In 2017, he collaborated with OrishaImage to create Yorùbá Melody, a multilingual 90 minutes free Yorùbá language "audio phrasebook for Olórìṣà and cultural tourists."[33] The audio phrasebook was released in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. In August 2019, a fourth language was added: German.[34]

He also worked with BBC Academy to help localize the Journalistic Style Guide of the BBC into Igbo, Yoruba, and Nigerian Pidgin, ahead of its maiden broadcast in those Nigerian languages.

In honour of UNESCO's declaration of 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages, Tubosun, through The YorubaName Project in collaboration with Rising Voices created @DigiAfricanLang, a twitter rotation curation account featuring scholars and professionals working in African language documentation and revitalization across the continent.[35]

Creative and Travel Writing[edit]

Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún at a recent book panel. Photo courtesy Ake Arts and Book Festival 2016

Tubosun has contributed to Nigerian creative writing since 2005, through poetry, travel writing, essay, prose, travel writing and literary criticism. His work has appeared in the International Literary Quarterly, Sentinel Poetry, Brittle Paper, Ake Review, Popula, NTLitMag, and Enkare Review. In 2010, he contributed to 234Next as a travel writer.[citation needed]

He worked as the pioneering editor of a Literary Magazine of new writing from Nigerian and Africa called NTLitMag, from 2012 to 2015. In November 2015, he co-edited as well as Aké Review, the literary publication of the Aké Arts and Book Festival, with Kolade Arogundade. From 2015–2016, while he taught as a schoolteacher, he edited two issues of The Sail, an anthology of creative works of high school students.[36][37][38][39][40][41]

Tubosun has been on the Advisory Board of the Aké Arts and Book Festival since July 2019.[42]

In September 2018, he accompanied Brandon Stanton from Humans of New York as a guide while the latter was in Nigeria,[43][44] an experience he later wrote about.[45]

In 2016, he wrote the entry on Nnedi Okorafor's science fiction novel Lagoon for "Imaginary Wonderlands" (October, 2016), a collection of essays about invented worlds in literature from around the globe, from Dante to Rushdie. The book was edited by Laura Miller (writer).[citation needed]

After writing an illuminating travel profile on Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka in 2018,[46] Tubosun was awarded the 2019 Morland Writing Scholarship to write a biography of the writer, Africa's first Nobel Laureate in Literature.[47][48][49]

Poetry[edit]

Tubosun writes poetry in Yoruba and English. His chapbook Attempted Speech & Other Fatherhood Poems was first published by Saraba Magazine in 2015. An earlier one Headfirst into the Meddle was published in 2005.

In 2018, his first full collection of poetry "Edwardsville by Heart" was published. It is a book described as "a magical meeting place of travelogue, memoir, and poetry,"[50] covering a period of three years when the author lived in the midwestern United States. It is "a quiet, reflective book",[51] "by far a rather enjoyable read."[52] Petero Kalulé calls him "a poet who writes so freely, so playfully, so beguilingly about the everyday and its “effing possibilities.”[53] JM Schreiber says it has "an uncluttered vision—emotionally contained and all the more powerful as a consequence."[54]

The book was selected as one of "Africa's Must Read Books of 2018"[55]

Literary Translations[edit]

Tubosun has translated literature into Yoruba, his mother tongue. He has also argued for more literary translations into African languages as a way of revitalizing the languages.[56] His translation of a short story by Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o into Yoruba was published in the Jalada Language Translation project[57][58] in March 2016. In 2019, his translation of a short story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was published in the Absinthe Journal.[59]

Since 2005, he has translated, into English, some of the poetry of his father, Yoruba language poet, Olatubosun Oladapo. Since 2019, he has participated in workshops on the same project with the Poetry Translation Centre in London.[60]

Awards[edit]

The Premio Ostana, a glass-art sculpture and a medal, created by Silvio Vigliaturo, a famous contemporary Italian artist and glass sculptor.

Premio Ostana[edit]

In January 2016, Tubosun was chosen as a recipient of a Premio Ostana "Special Prize" for Mother Tongue Literature (Il Premio Ostana Internazionale Scritture in Lingua Madre 2016), a prize given to any individual who has done writing and notable advocacy for the defence of an indigenous language.[4][5][61][62][63] The prize ceremony was held from 2 to 5 June 2016, in the town of Ostana (Cuneo, Italy).[6][64][65] Tubosun was the first African to be so honoured by the organisation.

In October 2015, he was nominated for the CNN African Journalists Award[66] for his travel piece Abeokuta's Living History, first published at KTravula.com. He was the first ever blogger on the award shortlist.

Other Awards[edit]

  • 2017 Ventures Africa "40 Under 40" Innovators for 2017.
  • 2017 Saraba Magazine Manuscript Contest
  • 2016 100 most innovative people in technology[67]
  • 2016 Quartz African Innovator's List.[68]
  • 2015 Nigeria's most innovative people in technology[69]

Selected works[edit]

Poetry

  • Edwardsville by Heart (ISBN 9780993550232) Wisdom's Bottom Press, UK, 2018
  • Attempted Speech and Other Fatherhood Poems (Poetry Chapbook) Saraba Magazine, 2015.[70]

Edited

  • Edo North: Field Studies of the Languages and Lands of the Northern Edo (Ed., 2011). Essays in Honour of Professor Ben O. Elugbe. Zenith Book House.[71]
  • NTLitMag: 29 Issues (2012-2015)[72]

Personal life[edit]

His sister, Yemi Adesanya, is an accountant and poet. His wife, Temie Giwa founded LifeBank Nigeria, a health logistics company. He lives in Lagos, Nigeria.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]