The B.A. Degree Programme in Yoruba which formally began in the Faculty of Arts during the session 1970/71 was designed and taught by the African Languages and Literatures staff of the then Institute of African Studies. Under this arrangement, the University of Ife Faculty awarded its first undergraduate degree in Yoruba in the Faculties of Arts and Education in 1974. At its 114th meeting on 7th January, 1975 the Senate of the University having considered and approved a recommendation from the Faculty Board of Art, decided to create (Minute 1787) a separate Department of African Languages and Literatures in the Faculty with effect from October, 1975. The existing degree programme in Yoruba became the nucleus of the new Department and the African Languages and Literatures staff of the Institute of African Studies was redeployed to the new Department.
At its inception, the Department planned to provide teaching and research in the following sub disciplines: general and linguistic study of Nigerian and African Languages; in-depth study of the following language of Nigeria and their literatures; Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo and Edo; proficiency training in language skills with respect to these same four languages. As will be seen in what follows, however, problems of staff training, the unexpected proliferation of Universities specializing in the study and teaching of each of these languages, and constraints in matters of resources particularly beginning with the years 1980’s have limited the Department’s activities to the Yoruba Language, its literature and its institutions, while the Department continues to explore all avenues to prosecute its original plans in pursuit of the objects of the Obafemi Awolowo University
As of 2006/2007 session, the following programmes, as found in the revised BA. degree programme (approved by the University Senate in 1996) and The Postgraduate School Handbook, 2000-2002, are offered in the Department:
- B.A. Yoruba, Single and Combined Honours degrees
- M.A. degree in Yoruba Language and Literature
- Ph.D. degree in Yoruba Language and Literature.
The growth of the Department, though satisfactory in many respects, reflects the fortunes of both the Faculty of Arts and the Obafemi Awolowo University of which it is part. At the end of the 1989/99 session with the submission of the first set of Ph.D. theses written completely in Yoruba, the Department has sufficient evidence to support the standard of excellence it has been striving to establish in the various academic and service endeavours. Today, not less than 15 Ph.D. theses have been successfully defended in the Department.
A proposal for B.A. (Hons) Degree in Linguistics and B.A. Combined Honours Degree in Linguistics and English, and Linguistics and Yoruba, was approved by the University Senate on 25th July, 2007. The nomenclature of the Department was therefore changed to the Department of Linguistics and African Languages so as to reflect the teaching of Linguistics and African Languages as separate but related disciplines within the same Department.
Over the decades, the Department of Linguistics and African Languages has been able to blend the three major languages and other languages in Nigeria into this scientific scholarly pursuit. Besides, there was a determined effort, right from the beginning, to emphasise the African context and content in the study of languages. The number of graduate students continues to increase greatly, based partly on the quality of graduate training that the Department is offering and the opportunities for further advancement in career and in education available through the graduate studies.
Over the years, the Department has produced many first rate graduates at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels; some are now leading professors and lecturers here in Nigeria and in various institutions in Europe and America. Yet, others occupy eminent positions of responsibility in the Nigerian economy and all over the world.
However, in order to meet the requirements for cutting-edge research based on scientific and multidisciplinary perspectives and the NUC bench mark, a review is required and is being proposed.
The philosophy of the Department of Linguistics and African Languages is naturally derived from the overall vision of the University which centres on providing high quality research and activities that will promote the development of the Nation and enhance the image of the University and researchers, imparting appropriate skills, knowledge, culture, behavioural attitudes and engendering a sense of selflessness in the service to the public sector. It is also the philosophy of the Department to produce thoroughbred, highly disciplined graduates of international standard with excellent and appropriate knowledge and skills and who will be able to demonstrate competence and knowledge in any area of endeavour that they may choose to venture into after their graduation.
The curriculum of the undergraduate programme of the Department of Linguistics and African Languages was last reviewed in 2007 when the B.A. (Hons) Degree in Linguistics and B.A. Combined Honours Degree in Linguistics and English, and Linguistics and Yoruba, were introduced. Moreover, contemporary trends in the study of languages globally have created new interests such as language and the media, language documentation and professional use of language. Based on the multi-lingual nature of our society, there is a need to emphasise various multidisciplinary approaches. Consequently, new courses are deemed necessary to be introduced in the review of the Department’s curriculum so as to keep up to the standard which the Department is known for and to provide the students with the best materials to enable them compete favourably anywhere in the world.
Therefore, due to the emerging ideas and to keep up with modern language challenges, courses have been developed in the following areas:
- Linguistics and the media
- Language Documentation
- Computational Linguistics
In pursuit of the above, new courses have been introduced to expand the following existing areas:
- Language Documentation
- Language and Professional Practice