By Salisu Yusuf
Sunday, 8th of August, 2021 was a black day for the family of Malam Isah Abba Adamu, the BBC Hausa Service, its listeners, Kano people, the Hausa community in London, and the Hausa community globally over the sudden death of the Kano-born, renowned broadcaster, Malam Isa Abba Adamu. He was the first Black person to have headed the BBC Hausa Service. He was also the Executive Editor of BBC Africa Service.
Malam Abba Adamu has made an enormous contribution in the Hausa language policy formulations, which are policies put forward by ethnologists for language sustenance against language attrition (waning and death). For example, it’s a well-known fact that the Hausa Service has contributed a lot in the lexical modernisation of some new words to Hausa, especially the recent computer terminologies: kwamfuta, na’ura maikwakwalwa, megawati, etc.
Nowhere has late Isa contributed than in areas of translation. Millions of Hausa users will miss his voice, translation skills and interpretative nuance, especially from English news and reports to their exact Hausa versions.
Stations like BBC Hausa (in which Malam Isa was a figurehead and contributor) have attracted many non-Hausa speakers to news in Hausa. This has contributed to the increase in the Hausa speech community. Ethnologue estimated that over 47 million people now use the Hausa language as second language users. Language prestige is another factor in language development because a language attracts more users worldwide. The Hausa language enjoys high patronage as one of the most widely used mediums in the world. People such as the late Malam Isa are among the factors responsible for the prevalent use of the language in Nigeria and all over the world, where it’s used for literacy and information dissemination.
Lastly, the BBC Hausa is also involved in Hausa corpus planning. This involved creating a standard variety of language in spelling and grammar. BBC Hausa uses the Kano dialect in its broadcasts as it’s considered more standard even though with some modifications.
Late Malam Isa Abba Adamu will be remembered for his sonorous voice and more for his catchphrase during broadcasts: “Ana sauraron Sashen Hausa na BBC ne daga tsakiyar London, ni kuma nine Isa Abba Adamu.”
May the Lord in His infinite mercy forgive Malam Isa Abba Adamu and grant him Jannatul Firdaus, amin.
Salisu Yusuf writes from Katsina. He can be contacted via email@example.com.