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The Ebekwarra Mde koo (The Bekwarra Nation)
Perspectives on Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
ICT Imperative for a People’s Development
ICT and Social Networking
The Internet and the Social Media
Prospects of ICT in Nigeria
Challenges of ICT in Nigeria
It is worrisome that the Bekwarra are yet to duly key into the potentials and prospects of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Most Bekwarra people, like most other peoples of Nigeria and other developing nations, lack and exhibit negative (cold) attitudes toward ICT knowledge and use. Frowning at these ugly trends, this work rises to call on all concerned to turn a new leave– key into and tap from the development and positive potentials/aspects of ICT. It is high time the people, especially the youths, began projecting, promoting and developing Bekwarra culture, economy, politics and other embodiments through ICT, towards digitalising and globalising Bekwarra. The study submits that Bekwarra people, culture, language and panorama can best be projected, promoted and developed through ICT. The task is for those who are computer literate among them to effectively utilise and harness their acquired knowledge in this area, teach others and bring every bit about Bekwarra to limelight through ICT cum social media. This gesture will catapult Bekwarra to the apex of all-round development, situating her rightly in the global village to share equal/some place with other cultures that have attained such height. To effect and realise the desired change, re-orientation, sensitisation, mass literacy and attitudinal change are the first requisites, followed by effective utilisation of ICT. This task lies more with the Bekwarra youths, elite, technicians/technologists (ICT professionals) and government, while the non-Bekwarra people and Cross River State and Federal governments with such capacities and resources owe her worthwhile supports. Such other cultures must rise and do likewise to duly grow and fit into the global village too.
Keywords: ICT, Bekwarra, Imperative, Projecting, Promoting, Developing
ICT is a term comprising the notion of the application of technologies to information generation, storage, processing, retrieval, dissemination, etc. (Oketunji, 2001 in Adebisi, 2009). Also, Ndukwe et al. (2006) cited in Adebisi (2009) note that ICT is a revolutionary tool that enhances multifaceted development of a nation. This makes it imperative for nations like Bekwarra to efficaciously develop themselves cum their assets, heritage and entirety through ICT. The limitless transfer, exchange, uploading, publishing, exposing, advertising and spreading of all sorts of information about any people and just anything makes it imperative and efficacious (possible) to promote, project and develop a people and their culture cum entirety through judicious and rational use (application) of ICT. Globally, the impact of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the past decades has been enormous. ICT plays a crucial role in socio-economic development and in bringing the world together as a global village. Indeed, in today’s knowledge-based economy, a completely new set of skills are required. Developing countries need to respond to demand for strategies to prepare the youth for the competitive opportunities driven by information and communication technology.
The underlying gap in this area –ICT– in Bekwarra and the like nations ought to be bridged with immediate effect by all and sundry, the youths, the academia and the elites most especially. It is quite regrettable that only a scanty volume of information on Bekwarra people, language, culture, phenomena and panorama exists on the internet amidst the good number of learned and erudite ICT and computer professionals, academia, elite and youths of the Bekwarra nation. They have failed to do what others are doing to this effect. One prime reason is the gross widely shared pride they most have, like the other peoples of the entire (old) Ogoja Province, for which they look down on everything about their culture, geography and existence (Robert, 2016). They rather prefer the alien culture and somewhat the ‘popular’ cultures of Nigeria, Africa, and the global ones to theirs. They tend to neglect the studying, projecting, promoting and developing of indigenous knowledge, culture, arts, enterprises and so on, which tribes like Arab, Turkish, India, Tiv, Efik, Ibibio, Kanuri, Nupe, Benin/Edo, Urhobo, Itsekiri, Igede, Idoma, Jukun, Igala, Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, etc., have been doing for decades now.
For example, if one just types the word ‘Tiv’ and searches online, within the twinkling of an eye, numerous information would display on Tiv people, origin, history, migration and settlement, language, arts, culture, cosmology, literature, philosophy and virtually everything about Tiv– the good, the bad, the ugly from both indigenous and non-indigenous Tiv writers. This applies to most of the aforementioned ‘minor’ tribes of Nigeria. No doubt, the Tiv themselves, in whatever acts and ways, are those responsible for that. Ordinarily, if they had not made or made no (a) splash to and supported such non-indigenous people (scholars, researchers, anthropologists, archaeologists, linguists, missionaries, etc.), it would not have been so. It implies that nations, like individuals, must first work on themselves, e.g. project, promote and develop themselves before others can do so or along with the alien/external others in doing so. Beginning with O/ND, NCE to PhD theses done by Tiv students, only a very few do not concern Tiv in one way to the other. On social media, the gesture is usually replicated as well as sustained by the artists, academia, elites and youths of cultures that are bent to doing the unimaginable to uphold, project, develop and digitalise their cultures.
Such gesture is very uncommon among the Bekwarra and their Ogoja neighbours. Imagine a Bekwarra academia/scholar writing on Aguleri rising conflict issues and such other valuable themes without having for once written on any phenomenon in Bekwarra. So, what would the Aguleri indigenous scholars study (write on)? Here, he wrote on but never studied the Aguleri crisis. Rather, he only relied on what other scholars from and close there had studied. If they had waited for or to tap from others, would there have been such materials for him? On social media, all sorts of subjective political arguments and general information alone are what the Bekwarra and their Ogoja fellows (Northern Cross River peoples) seem to be concerned about and part of. The home-based Bekwarra, unlike their counterparts of other nations (tribes), do likewise; rather than giving, writing and posting information about the people and things therein. We cannot continue like this and afford to lose the enormous development potentials and prospects of ICT. It is high time we (Bekwarra) changed, joined the moving train of the computerised global village and attained development and global recognition with most other nations that have done/are doing so via ICT cum social media and social networking.
The Ebekwarra Mde koo (The Bekwarra Nation)
The term Bekwarra is used to also refer to the people, the land, the culture and all that are associated with the tribe– Bekwarra. Although they are widely known as Bekwarra, the people call themselves ‘Ebekwarra’, ‘Ebekwarra M de koo or N de koo (M/Ndeko)’ and ‘Abere Ebekwarra’, just like the Igbo address themselves as ‘Ndi Igbo’. The word is said to have been derived from ‘Ebe Kwarra/kworra’– ‘They that hurried away’ from their Obudu Cross River ancestral home of Agba Agba, a great Jukun warrior, hunter and farmer, who founded Obudu, Igede, Bekwarra, Aleke, Alege, Mbube and Afrike (Abua, 2008:1-2,9; Stoddart, 1932:16; Robert, 2008:28; Robert, 2015:1; Abua, 2009:8). The Ebekwarra M de koo or N de koo variance is the manifestation of the dialectal variance. However, the Ebekwarra M de koo (Mdeko) is to the Standard Bekwarra variety. Bekwarra has rich cultural heritage and social institutions: marriage (iribia), family (irifen), politics (ukani oyen eni/ ukani Udiara– akwani), law (una), economy (Abo-ukwulo oshi mu une biana ushi), music/songs/singing (ayem), dance (anya), burial (irifo), which also means death), ipam (festival/occasion/party), birth, (uni/unwan afeni), religion (abang ini har’ Adah), etc. (Robert, 2015 and 2016).
Bekwarra is a Nigerian African society, located in South-Southern Nigeria, said to have been founded by Odama Ofide and Adie Ofide (progenitors of Eye-Adie, Ujia North and South, Oti, Eya Abar and Udomu), Atimina Bendi, their uncle (Gakem progenitor) and Ugbong Oka (founder of Beten), Atimina’s nephew. Odama, the eldest who begot the following descendants: Ujia North (Ika-Ichia: Utugbor, Abuana and Akpakpa), Ujia South (Ukpah/Ukpah Iribu, Anyikang, Utukwe, Ebegang, Ibiaragidi and Ububa), Oti (Ichogodo and other Nyanya parts) and Udomu (Ikparikobo, Alumonye and Itekpa), while Adie begot the following descendants: Ugboro, Ijibor, Akwurinyi-Omiami and Ukpada and Eya-Abar: Abuochiche, Owala, Abuagbor (Achibang, Ubepa, Ebewo, Otukpuru, Ikanda, Alachor and Abankubi). Their descendants lived in unity and peace, and spread across the current other parts of Bekwarra land. Odama and Adie are said to have hurried away (‘Ebe Kworra’) from Obudu at night in order to escape a purported bloody conflict (perhaps a historical folktale) that rose between the then Obudu existed two groups: ‘Ebang-Ekpenehe and Ebang-Eguji’. The conflict was mainly between Odama and Agba-unwatung (see Abua, 2008:11-24 for details on the folktale conflict).
It is the first Bekwarra progenitor’s name ‘Odama’ as well as their third market day, Udama, a derivation of Odama, that the Tiv had corrupted to Udam/Ndam/Ndama, which virtually all of them now feel that it is a derogatory label for the Bekwarra and their entire Cross River and Akwa-Ibom (Ogoja/Ejagham/Calabar–Efik/Ibibio) peoples– siblings and neighbours. The Yala are Bekwarra’s ageing neighbours who still share many things in common (exclusive of certain cultural norms, values, ethics, aesthetics and cosmology, among others) with the latter, the Bekwarra. Their interaction/union began (c. mid-1400AD) at Ogboja, when Yala, precisely Ugaga, joined Bekwarra there, before the latter popularity and formalisation of the name Ogboja, which since became known as Ogoja, following the colonialists’ change of the word because of their inability to pronounce the [gb] phoneme. Ogboja means ‘fertile soil’. This name Ogboja had since out-shown ‘Ugeli/Ebebi’, the Bekwarra’s names for it. Ogboja was a part of the whole then settlement, which yielded high crop products when farmed by the Yala, upon arrival (Robert, 2008, 2015 and 2016).
Ugeli means ‘town’ to the (in) Bekwarra. This name could be because this new found land (home) was unlike their Obudu area and Iruan, Boki, where they (the Bekwarra) first settled after leaving Obudu. As such, since their erstwhile settlements were forest and desert areas, deep inside, they considered the new unlike area– a town. Ebebi, meaning ‘they inquired (came and asked)’, was given because the Bekwarra had first traced (found out) whether the virgin land had owners so they would settle on their own peacefully. And, later, the Yala and subsequently the Nkumm and the other tribes also came and found out whether they could be allowed to move out and come settle with the Bekwarra – E (Abe e) be bi (Eneyi Oshiono, 1999; Oshama Agbor, 2008; Odey Ogar, 2008; Robert Njor, 2007, among other interviewees). Part of the site (land) discovered and named Ogboja by the Yala still bears Ogboja till date in the present day Ogoja Local Government Area. Such is the area where Ogoja Campus of Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH) is located. Bekwarra’s Ugeli is today known as Igoli, the ‘heart’ of Ogoja Local Government Area.
The ageing contact between Bekwarra and Yala and their founding of Ogoja (Ogboja) has being given credence by Stoddart (1932:16) thus:
The Nkim or any tribe can never claim to be aborigines or owners of Ogoja land. The right landlords are the Bekwarra and the Yala. Bekwarra was the first tribe or nation to migrate from the Nkimtal settlement to the area known as Ogboja. Yala, precisely Ugaga followed suit and shared land boundary with Bekwarra. Then, the Nkumm left their Nkimtal settlement to settle in between Bekwarra and Yala.
Below is Bekwarra migratory route, adapted from the Calabar Archive through Abua (2008):
Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten
Bekwarra is bounded in the north by Vandeikya Local Government Area of Benue State and parts of Yache, Yala Local Government Area of Cross River State. It is bounded southward by Ishibori/Igoli of Ogoja Local Government Area. Utugwang in Obudu Local Government bounds it to the east, while Yala parts: Echumofana, Ekprinyi and Imaje bound it westward. Bekwarra is an agrarian society, characterised by grassland and rainforest. The largest part of its soil is loamy, which partly accounts for high yield of crops. They farm groundnut (anangkere), rice ( iwuanyinyang ), grand beans (Bambara-nut), all species of yam (ipem), sweet potatoes (achaka), cassava (ologo), native beans (ebetuo), melon (atan), beneseed (anang), okra (itibi) and vegetables like pumpkin (achehe), fruited pumpkin (okong-obor/ogwu), green– Amarantus spp (alefu/achipata), bitter leave (uchu), unam (Boki leave), hot leave (ashishi-ichebe), ebenung, ishung-ufah (scent leave), garden egg (ititung), ititung-irijom, ilulu (African salad), atung-gadang, among others. The rate at which the Bekwarra farm, break (with finger) and sell groundnut is why groundnut is associated with them, such that the Yala fondly call them Iyakwuro le abunoworo, meaning, the ‘ Bekwarra have groundnut in the ear.’ Also, it is their dexterity and diligence, particularly in farming and craft that gained them the tribal derogatory label ‘Iyakuro’, originally A ya ukwuro: ‘you worked well/well-done!’ or you [plural] – Ala ya ukwuro/Ayukwuro: ‘workers/those who work hard.’ A village along Nyanya-Utugwang-Obudu Road (High Way) is known as Ishaane-iritem, ‘deserted forest settlement’. The Ijibor, the Akwurinyi and the Ika-Ichia women are known for selling of firewood cum using plenty of firewood for cooking. Iritem Agba Alu of Ukpah is another example of thick forest in Bekwarra (Robert, 2008, 2015 and 2016).
In his poem ‘Bekwarra’, Robert (2014) poetically describes the land and its people thus:
A green, black fertile soil with rosy vegetation
Headed by tall palm trees (lines 3-4, stanza 1)
A green-blue-black-red and of honey bees, milk, food and gold, assorted.
A talented, richly crafted people endowed with prowess, dexterity
Potentials, brevity, creativity, beauty and assets untapt (lines 7-9, stanza 2).
A hospitable home– strangers even more for (line 11 stanza 3).
Clothed with more preference and hospitality for strangers than fellows (line 15, stanza 3).
The owner of the prestigious Bekwarra Language and Literature
The only semi-Bantu trace with Igbo twinness, ties and affinity (lines 16-18).
The above lines poetically describe Bekwarra geography, image, culture and the people’s personality builds. The area approximates 400 squares miles, with over 250,000 population size (cf. Abua, 2008b:1). Omagu (1997) cited in Odey (2007) notes that modern Bekwarra is a continuous expanse of land, which is approximately 345sqkm. It lies on the north-east of the Cross River map. It is by latitude 60 370N and 60 450S and 480E. The area is covered by a mixture of large savannah grassland with patches of deciduous forest. The savannah covers Gakem that bounds it northward with Vandeikya, Benue State, while the forest vegetation is more prominent around Ukpah, Utugbor (Ika-Ichia) and Ishane-Iritem. It has rivers like Aya, Uduo, Ulu and Utim that are cross-border and cross- local government areas– into Obudu via Utugwang; Yala, Ogoja and Ikom. It displays the pre-test heterogeneity of soil, depending on whether these are developed on shakes or alluvium. The soil is generally deep-shallow and changes according to parent materials, topography, rainfall and vegetation annually. It is rich in gravelly iron palm (laterite). It experiences abundant sunshine and rainfall like other regions in the equatorial Zone. The temperature is usually high within a daily average of between 290C and 320C. The average rainfall varies from about 2,286.00mm to 2,285.00mm (Robert, 2008; Abua, 2008b; Omagu, 1997; Odey, 2007). Below is Bekwarra map, as given by the colonial mastres:
Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten
The mostly noted population figure of Bekwarra is the approximated 105,822 of the 2006 Census (NPC, 2006), which was only home-based. This is clearly false because the same Bekwarra whose population was given then by the 1963 Census as 50,000 is now just approximated by the 2006 Census as 105,822. Meanwhile, Bekwarra is a polygamous agrarian society, whose population is sporadic. Of course, Diaspora Bekwarra’s population doubles that of the home-based. These are people who mostly dread their Bekwarra home because of the negative forces therein, especially witchcraft. Thus, with plus and minus, Bekwarra in Diaspora could be at least 158,733, which when added to the erroneously given 105,822, it becomes 264,555. It suffices to say that Bekwarra population as at 2006 was 264,555. Out of the 105,822 2006 census figures, women had 59,524.875; children had 19,841 and men had 26,457 estimates. With the addition of estimated Diaspora figure, women and children had an estimate of 198,416.25 and men had 66138.75. Further, women had the total estimate of 148,812.1875, while children shared the remaining 49,604.0625 (Robert, 2016).
In specific terms, thus, Bekwara population, as at 2006, was 264,555, from which the homeland unit of 105,822 was estimated. Bekwarra Language with its dialects is spoken by over 532,000 native speakers. The dialects basically comprise Ebekwarra-Iye and Ebekwarra-Iribu (the Standard Bekwarra variety, with minor speech/accent differences between Ebekwarra-Iye and Ebekwarra-Iribu), Afrike, Mbube, Utugwang, Aleke, Alege and Bendi, some of which are now claimed to be separate or full-pledge languages along with Bekwara as the L2 (Second Language) of the native speakers. Because of socio-political and geographical expanse and factors, the Bendi speakers mostly tend to claim that Bekwarra is rather under Bendi as a dialect or that they are two different speech forms. They are not and Bekwara is not under Bendi but the reverse rather, the historical blood sibling seniority notwithstanding. This is owing to Bekwarra’s earlier linguistic prominence, upon possession of formal standard language characteristics, unlike Bendi. Of course, it was because of Bekwarra’s earlier linguistic prominence and formal status that made it to have been chosen as one of the trio formal languages of Cross River, following the 1978 National Language Policy (Robert, 2016). While Bekwarra Language, by that statutory proclamation, is to Cross River North, Ejagham is to the Central and Efik is to the South (Matiki, 2006:19; Abua, 2008:4, Robert, 2008:3)
There exists mutual intelligibility between Bendi and Bekwara as well as other Bekwarra dialects like Mbube, Utugwang, Afrike, Alege and Bekwarra: Ebekwara-Iye and Ebekwara-Iribu (Abua, 2008:8; Robert, 2008:4). Of course, there is no gain saying the fact that the 100,000 native speakers figure given by SI since 1989 is obsolete. For example, the figure does not even tally with that of the only home-based 2006 census figure of 105,822 Bekwara populations, not to talk of Mbube, Afrike, Utugwang, Alege and their (Bekwara) native speakers in the Diaspora, and other users. If Bekwarra is said to have had 100,000 speakers since 1989, it means that its population had rose to the 100,000 since that year, 1989, after the purported 50,000 of the 1963 Census. The poser here to the obsolete 100,000 native speakers claim is: What other language do the rest people that made up the National Population Commission’s claimed 105, 822 Bekwarra 2006 populations speak? The Afrike alone speak several dialects of Bekwarra Language, with high mutual intelligibility and Afrike as a whole is just about or the population of Gakem and Ukpah put together, if not more. So, Afrike’s population alone cannot cover the remaining 405, 822 population of Bekwarra. The populations of Utugwang, Mbube and others are not even added yet. Thus, this is why this writer muses that Bekwarra has over 532,000 native speakers, when the populations of its dialects speakers are put together. Bekwarra Language is formally/statutorily like Hausa to the Northern part of Nigeria, i.e. it is one of the three official (major) languages of Cross River, a multilingual state, adopted for the Cross River Northern based on the National Language Policy of 1978 (Robert, 2016).
This study is anchored on the Flow Theory (FT) and the diffusion innovation and gratification theories. Borrowed from psychology, flow theory helps assess human-computer interactions and addresses people’s use of the internet. Flow, as defined by Csikszentimanlyi (1997:36), is the ‘holistic sensation that people feel when they act with total involvement.’ It implies the absorption in a task, such that the person is completely attracted by the artefact and the task being performed. Websites, email tools and the computer itself are all artefacts; the tasks refer to an assignment performed using these tools (Firineran and Zhang, 2003). Thus, social media, such as Facebook, are artefacts, and people using this network engage in tasks that prompt their flow on the platform. Novak et al. (1998) also provide an extensive review of the definition of flow as experienced by people immense in a task. Described as total concentration and deep involvement in the tasks, these activities result in intrinsic enjoyment, combined with keen curiosity and pleasure that encourages repetition of the activity, but also the loss of time and an inability to control usage or halt the activity.
Next, the diffusion innovation and gratification theories are apt here too. Diffusion is the process of spreading a given idea or practise over time through specific channels, such as through a social structure as neighbourhoods (Katz et al., 1963). On the diffusion of innovations, the theorists maintain that for a new idea or innovation to diffuse, there must be: (a) awareness stage, (b) interest stage, (c) evaluation, (d) trial and adoption stage. Different types of innovation require different kind of adoption units. Bittner (1984) notes that media can lead someone become aware of the existence of a phenomenon. Then, from there, he/she gets interested in it, attempts evaluating it and gives a trial touch before making up his/her mind to acquire it.
Diffusion of innovation theory was developed by M. Roger in 1962. It is thus one of the oldest theories of the social sciences, which is applied in communication science to explain how an idea or a product gains momentum with time and diffuses (spreads) through a specific population or social system. Diffusion is only possible when a person, group(s) or consider(s) a given idea, behaviour or product as so something new or innovative. Roger (1983) used this theory to explore how the ideas spread among people through media. The theory seeks to explain how, why and at what rate new ideas and technology spread through cultures. The adoption of new ideas, process, behaviour, product or thereabouts does not occur simultaneously in a social system. Rather, it is a process whereby some people are more apt to adapt the innovation than others. According to Roger (1962:150), adopters are of five categories: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. The change agent centres on the conditions that increase the likelihood that a new idea would be adopted or not. The agent helps the audience to decide on the best idea to adapt by influencing their option about a particular situation. Goodhart et al. (1975) and Barwise et al. (1982) muse that a great deal of media use is actually habitual and unselective. It relates the usefulness of the media and to what extent it can affect man.
Next, uses and gratification theory is an approach to understanding why and how people actively seek out specific media to satisfy specific needs. It was developed by Blumler and Katz in 1970 in reaction to traditional mass communication research, emphasising the sender and the message. It focuses not on the question, ‘what media do to people, but rather, ‘what people do with the media.’ It explains how users deliberately chose media that will satisfy given needs and allow one to enhance knowledge, relaxation, social interaction, diversion or escape. This theory is otherwise known as functional theory, concerned with social and psychological origin of needs, which generate expectations of the mass media that leads to different patterns of media exposure, resulting in need gratification and other consequences, mostly unintended ones (Kats, 1974:20) . It is purely audience-centred and addresses needs surveillance, excitement, guidance, relaxation, tension release, socialization, escape and integration. To be able to gratify these needs, it must be able to realise that the mass media audience may belong to the low, middle or high post brow group (Savary and Carico, 1971). These users (exposure to media) and gratification (benefit) are determined by the needs members of the audience; such needs may include information, entertainment, self-esteem and prestige. Through the use and gratifications research, communication scholars have found that everywhere people selectively expose themselves to mass media content, choosing only those media messages that would serve the function of satisfying or gratifying their needs (Rosengren, 1985). It means that people needs are generated by their individual differences. It could be based on sex, ethnic group, education level or thereabout. Because the needs are determined by who or what they are, people use the mass media, including the social media, for the purpose of gratifying those needs (Okonna, 1998).
Perspectives on Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
Both developed and developing countries are undertaking a key vital task of streamlining their education and training systems to meet the development requirements in the context of changing environment (Yamba, 2012). In the past two decades Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has had a tremendous impact (Oliver, 2001). The power of ICT has brought a tremendous change to various aspects of people’s lives (Bonsu, Duodu, Ansere and Djang-Fordjour, 2013:12).
For African countries to significantly trim down the gaps of knowledge, technology and economy with the developed countries, the development and application of ICT in the continents’ higher institutions of learning is very essential (Kofi, 2007). Whereas computers and technology are common (Cuban, 2001), developing countries are not enjoying their benefits due to certain obstacles. These obstacles include inadequate financial support for purchasing of the technology, lack of training for teaching practitioners and inadequate motivation for teachers to adopt ICT as teaching tools (Starr, 2001). Bagchi and Udo (2007) made observations on the empirical test factors that drive ICT adoption in Africa and other sets of nations. In 2004, the Ghanaian Cabinet approved the National ICT for Accelerated Development (ICT4AD) Policy to improve the socio-economic development, information society, and cultural well-being through the accelerated development and infrastructure modernisation of the economy and society. The Government is using ICT as the main engine for accelerated and sustainable economic and social development. The main objective of the ICT4AD policy is to transform Ghana into a middle income, information-rich, knowledge based and technology-drive high-income economy and society. One of the significant parts of the ICT4AD policy is the incorporation of ICT at all levels of education (Bonsu, Duodu, Ansere and Djang-Fordjour, 2013:13). This gesture followed the imperatives of ICT in developing and promoting efficiency in all spheres, including culture. The government of Bekwarra and Cross River State as well that of Nigeria ought to do same and duly tap from the huge potentials of ICT in various spheres of life.
Investing in information and communication technology applications in developing countries is receiving considerable attention in policy debates . Substantial attention is being paid to investing in information and communication technologies (ICTs) in developing countries in order to give more people access to applications that have the potential to enhance their use of digital information resources. In the business sector, improved access to the internet is expected to lead to changes in business processes and to gains in productivity for firms – and especially for those firms seeking a stronger presence in international markets (Mansell, 2004:1) . The spread of connectivity to the internet is giving rise to renewed expectations that there will be good opportunities for firms in poorer countries to reap the benefits of global networking. However, barriers to connectivity continue to be substantial as indicated both by aggregate statistics on the spread of the internet and on the costs of access (Mansell, 2004:3). Since the early 1980s, information and communication technology (ICT) has permitted people to participate in a world in which school, work and other activities have been increasingly enhanced by access to varied and developing technologies. ICT tools have helped people find, explore, analyse, exchange and present information— most importantly, without discrimination. When efficiently used, ICT can provide quick access to ideas and experiences from a wide range of people, communities and cultures. ICT has so-permitted the Bekwarra too but for their reluctance and lukewarm attitudes toward it. This is basically why this paper prevails on them and the like peoples to rise from their slumbering and join the moving train in this regard.
It is this aspect of modern society that Patience Akpan-Obong's book presents in a useful report on her native country, Nigeria— a book in which she carefully presents Nigeria's efforts to use ICT to drive socio-economic growth [but the efforts are still inconsequential in Nigeria at large and Bekwarra in particular]. A whole chapter is devoted to Nigeria's National Policy on Telecommunications and other matters which have dogged Nigerian telecommunication. It brings to the fore issues pertinent to the question of how ICT is being used in national development. This is broken down into the number of telephones, fax machines, computers, printers, photocopiers, and internet usage (dial up or VSAT). This pattern of usage helps readers grasp how the government and private sectors have applied ICT. By now, we are all aware that social media has had a tremendous impact on our culture, in business and on the world at large. Social media websites are some of the most popular haunts on the internet. They have revolutionised the way people communicate and socialise on the web (Ta, 2014). Social networks offer the opportunity for people to re-connect with their old friends and acquaintances, make new friends, trade ideas, share contents and pictures and many other activities [like business transactions, adverts, display of cultures, e-library, groups’ membership and discussions, public opinion forums, etc.]. Users can stay abreast of the latest global and local developments and participate in campaigns and activities of their choice. Professionals use social media sites like LinkedIn to enhance their career and business prospects. Students can collaborate with their peers to improve their academic proficiency and communication skills. You can learn about different cultures and societies by connecting with people in other countries (Ta, 2014).
Some examples of ICTs are: computer, internet, www- world wide web, teleconferencing, GSM/telephone, satellite, radio, television, electronic mail, digital video disc, compact disc-read only memory, local area network, metropolitan area network, wide area network, intranet, internet scanner and facsimile (Uwaifo (2010:234). It is following the imperative of ICT use that various scholars are of the view that ICT should be widely and judiciously learnt and applied across all fields. Those in the library profession seem to be pulling more weight on this. Ezeani and Ekere (2009) describe Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as the medium by which the highest quality service in the library and information can be achieved. They observe that librarians must be versatile [conversant with] in the use of ICT, as this encourages diversity and builds a foundation for continuous innovative learning. They also insist that librarians must interpret traditional library skills and explore new ways of putting those skills to work through the effective use of ICT. Bekwarra librarians and ICT professionals ought to do same like their contemporaries. It means that these professionals and their like have not begun taking up this their responsibility currently. In view of the foregoing, Uwaifo (2010:236) observes that as a foundation laying [to] activities, ICT has impacted on library housekeeping routines or activities such as selection, acquisition, cataloguing and classification, which are often referred to as behind the scarce services or close access. By so doing, the stage is set for open access services. According to Uwaifo, ICTs have impacted on library services in several ways, some of which are:
i. Through Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC), library users are assisted to locate a wide range of sources of information that are of interest to them.
ii. Computer enables library staff to render bibliographic services to user community. Bibliography is a list of published information resources.
iii. Indexing services, i.e. with the aid of ICT, database of print and audio-visual materials can be created and indexed.
iv. ICT has made it possible for information seekers to access a wide range of library produced abstracts.
v. Access to electronic resources– audio-visual materials
vi. Information dissemination and circulation via library marketing and advertising
vii. User education, i.e. library orientation programmes like e-mail, e-workshops, e-seminars, e-lecturers, etc. can be made available to user community at distance.
viii. The birth of selective dissemination of information (SDI), which is a computer-mediated service whereby the librarian selects a wide range of up-to-date documents to heterogeneous users, is another impact of ICT on library.
ix. Documents deliveries, i.e. ICTs enable the delivery of far-away documents in digitalised format from electronic mails.
Nwalo (2002) has reasoned that librarians are duty-bound to apply ICT in the 21st century. This is perhaps in view of Tiamiyu’s (2000) opinion that library automation holds promise for increasing effectiveness and efficiency of performing basic data handling tasks in the library, thereby reducing the unit of cost of the various library operations. In the same vein, highlighting the imperative of ICT in librarianship, Ezeani (2010:21) observes,
These days, it is very common to find users who are no longer limited by print copies, but users who want to access information in different formats such as digitalize information, comprising textual to multimedia data consisting of text, images, digitized voice and video collections.
Davis (1987) has observed that with the advent of ICT, access to resources and records worldwide is becoming greatly enhanced by the conversion of library catalogues to on-line systems, digitalisation projects and the power of the internet and worldwide web (www) to assist in finding and sharing such information meta-data, such as Dublin Core and Encoded Archival. Digitalisation is defined by Masakasi (2009) as a creation of multimedia databases, enhanced by digital information and thus offering easy access to cultural and scientific heritage for large population of the users. It involves converting non-digital materials to digital ones for wider visibility and use. Therefore, there is the dire need for Bekwarra and the like peoples to make available and accessible digital information of easy access to our cultural heritage and not only the Western and scientific heritage. That is, there is a dire need to digitalise Bekwarra in all ramifications now and in the future. This task is more specifically for the Ebekwarra M de koo (the Bekwarra nation) but not restricted to them alone. There is every need for scholars and researchers of other nations to undertake or even rouse or rather challenge the Bekwarra to take up this task. The gesture must be sustained by the natives and their government, micro and macro. It should be extended to such other peoples by such philanthropists and non-culture-specific ethnographers as well as the Bekwarra who emerge likewise. Documents deliveries, i.e. ICTs enable the delivery of far-away documents in digitalised format from electronic mails.
In their contribution to the imperatives of ICT, particularly in developing, preserving and sustaining indigenous knowledge, culture, oral literature and history, Robert, Abubakar and Besong (2016:26-7) observe,
Developing nations, Africa, Nigeria and nationalities (cultures) may someday become bare without identity, if conscious efforts are not made first to transmit (teach) indigenous/traditional knowledge to the younger generations, and, next to document and electronically preserve her cultural heritage. Therefore, change, individually, institutionally, organisationally and collectively in all facets is very imperative. We must get rid of the negative trends and stop shying away from [our] invaluable indigenous aspects of life, all in the name of they are local or so, dabbing them variously. We must learn from developed nations like England, China, Japan, [the Arabs, India, Indonesia and several other Asian nations], etc. that have only been able to carve a global niche for themselves respectively through their cherished developed, promoted and sustained indigenous systems, institutions, cultures, norms and values via ICT.
Further, Robert, Abubakar and Besong (2016:2-3) have lent credence to why no one or only a few seem/s to be interested in projecting, promoting and developing Bekwarra and the like cultures via ICT when they observe,
The Eurocentric perspectives of African and Nigerian history and literature (and of course, Black culture in totality) continue to relate and affect the promotion, propagation, projection, development, impartation, transmission, growth and sustenance of our indigenous knowledge and cultures. For instance, gone are the days: moonlight stories were told; when parents educated their children and wards on their culture, inclusive of literature, history, social systems, norms/values (ethics), philosophy, languages/dialects, dress code (aesthetics), arts, technology and all other cultural embodiments.
The above points to the fact that away from the more regularly affirmed challenges of ICT are the above stated ones, which are even worse than the known core challenges of ICT. Indigenous knowledge is local knowledge that is unique to a given culture or society [here, that of Bekwarra]. It is the systematic body of knowledge acquired by the ‘local’ people through the accumulation of both formal and informal experiences, including the environment in a given culture (Warren et al. (1995). For knowledge to be relevant and reliable, it has to be lasting. Knowledge is generally tacit, and this is a big drawback. As a result of its fragile and often intangible nature, collection and preservation is necessary to give it a lasting quality (Okoro, 2010:164). For indigenous knowledge to be relevant for research, collection and preservation are necessary. These can be best done through ICT and documentation. These are yet to be done by and on Bekwarra. Of course, it is the earlier documentation of some of the cultures by their peoples who were interested in and conscious of preserving, projecting, promoting and developing them that such cultures have become what most people now regard as popular cultures and major tribes in Nigeria and other parts of the globe.
To make indigenous knowledge, oral tradition and culture widely accessible through the global information resources, Chisenga (2000) posits that indigenous knowledge of Africa [Bekwarra inclusive] must be codified into printed and electronic formats for both audio and video. Okoro (2010:165) observes that because indigenous knowledge is a powerful source of information, the locals are not willing to share their knowledge, probably because is power. Okoro has thus informed us or rather reiterated the value of indigenous knowledge, which calls for ICT use in all regards. This is better appreciated in the words of Kalu (1997), who observes that organisations, companies or individuals with marginally better information and systems tend to pull ahead of their competitors. Electronic presentation [digitalisation] of indigenous knowledge [oral tradition/literature, folklores, oral archives, oral history, customs and other non-material aspects of culture such as marriage, burial, family system, widowhood, traditional stool, local arts and enterprises, etc.] ensures cultural continuity and as well guard against cultural imperialism of neo-colonialism and westernisation. This explains why nations like Bekwarra are lagging behind in various facets. Kalu adds that the fear of cultural extinction, misrepresentation, and outright theft, cultural clash and acculturation may be assuaged by the introduction of ICT. And, the problem of introducing knowledge is the method of dissemination. This is better appreciated against the backdrop of the fact that indigenous knowledge is individually based (Okoro, 2010:165).
Again, Okoro (2010:169) informs,
In this age of information technology, it is no longer fashionable to rely on memory for transmission of relevant and reliable information. The elderly ones who are mostly the custodians of indigenous [traditional] knowledge may suffer from dementia and, hence, a whole lot of valuable information is gone. Therefore, the cost of tapes [cassettes, CDs, DVDs, VCDs, mobile phones, cameras, laptops, etc.] notwithstanding, collection and preservation [as well as transmission/impartation, utilisation and sustenance] of oral archives [translations, interviews, discussions, records, speeches, narrations, poems, folklores, etc.] using information and communication technology (ICT) is long overdue. Librarians [ICT professionals/technologists] and archivists [and men of letters] should no longer shy away from this laudable goal– posterity may hold us guilty if we dare [fail] to act now [emphasis, as given by Robert, Abubakar and Besong, 2016].
ICT Imperative for a People’s Development
Describing ICT as an imperative for promoting, projecting and developing a culture with its people, Agaji in Uji (2012:22-3), focusing on the case of Tiv, observes,
ICT is the integration of computers and communication system, notably the telephone system. The first and most important child of this integration is the internet. …ICT is a tool for unification and mass mobilisation, which can be used in a globalised nation. This can be done by setting up sites which can be accessed by both the Tivs and the non-Tivs [sic]. These sites can be used not only to erode certain negative [information] about the Tiv nation but also provide useful information. The newest ICT facilities of the internet and mobile phones are far less expensive and tend to empower civil societies at the expense of repressive regimes and if properly put to use can advance any society or assist any society to overcome challenges confronting it. ‘Data mining’ is fast replacing the mining of minerals as a field and more so, giving the expensive nature of information these days.
ICT is indeed a tool for unification and mass mobilisation that can be used in a globalised nation. The Arabs have successfully used social media to mobilise themselves based on sound ideas, and their culture and thus attained uneven development and breakthrough that would not have been possible without ICT use. This fact has been confirmed by Agaji (2012:23), in his advocacy of ICT use, social media sites creation and use for mass mobilisation and the erosion of certain negative perceptions about the Tiv nation as well as providing of information about the people. He writes, ‘Up to the point of writing this paper, I don’t know of any functional website that tells a lot about the Tiv nation. In the alternative and especially for mass mobilisation, we can us any of the social mobilising sites like Facebook and Twitter as is done by the Arabs.’ The phrase ‘that tells a lot’… denotes that although a lot or the desired volume of work on the Tiv nation was yet to be, perhaps because of the (then) non-existence of ‘a functional website’, the Tiv nation had already keyed into ICT in such regards, unlike the Bekwarra nation, who despite earlier contact with the White cum Western education, civilisation and Christianity, has done and is still doing nothing at all to meaningfully key into ICT in such regards and meaningful developments of all facets.
Also, the Indians have made a huge success in terms of ICT breakthrough. The Chinese hijacked the ‘technology economy’ power from other erstwhile powerful nations all because of their efficient use of and investment in ICT. But for the Chinese, many Nigerians would not boast of most of the mobile phones, radio sets, plants, laptops, desktop computers and other electronics/electrical appliances they do today because of their outrageous prices as they were then. Even Chinese herbs are not only produced, consumed there and exported here, they are also advertised online, such that one who ordinarily would know nothing about such herbs can now order for them and have them delivered straight to his/her door post. Yet, the Bekwarra, well-known for these, have thrown theirs into the thin air, dabbing them fetish, obsolete, etc., not to talk of advertising them online. Also, the rapid economic and all-round development of nations like Japan, India, France and Europe is a product of the development of their culture, as the peoples explored, exploited, developed, projected and promoted their indigenous cultures– arts, technology, knowledge, enterprises, etc., which they continuously sustain.
Highlighting the imperative of ‘outsourcing’ as an ICT strategy for building the economy, Agaji (2012:26) makes reference to the Indians thus:
The Indians have lived in this [outsourcing as a method of building economy]. In outsourcing, jobs that are very expensive to accomplish in the Western world can be gotten accomplished in the Nation at a lower cost. For example, a job that may cost $30M in the US may cost about $10M. Translating to our local currency, this may be substantial amount to develop ourselves. The cost comes mostly in terms of the cost of labour. This, Tivs [Bekwarra and such other nations] in Diaspora must contribute a necessary link in outsourcing strategy.
Mobile phones, radio and other mobile internet devices, like modern, palmtop, laptop, etc., which are now affordable are available with at least fair network coverage in almost all parts of Bekwarra. So, we have no excuse. All we need to do very seriously and even voluntarily is teaching and learning ICT use effectively. Also, for the fact that 75% of the total population, especially the youth, of the Bekwarra nation, is found outside– in most parts of South-western states, Edo State (South-South) and the Middle Belt (Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa, FCT and Kwara) and the other fractions in other parts of Nigeria and overseas, for the Bekwarra to aggressively key into ICT and mobilise themselves and project the nation, its people and culture to the world is very simple once they become willing and start now. The task is thankless but very rewarding and yet thankful (see Dibie and Robert, 2015 for more on such thankless task). It is a collective responsibility and must not be compromised or procrastinated. The thankless task lies with the youths, particularly the educated ones and the agents of socialisation.
No doubt, the Bekwarra, especially youths, have been mobilised for secular political reasons such as for elections, and Bekwarra students union and a few individuals’ blogs on Facebook, WhatsApp and thereabout. First, these are inconsequential still. Next, the turn up is still very low. Many dab such Bekwarra forums all for worthless pride and/or the negative attitudes of most others in the platforms or in the unions. Apart from the state tertiary institutions’ wings of the National Association of Bekwarra Students (NABES), which are still nothing to write home about, compared to others, NABES is usually almost extinct in most other Nigerian and overseas’ tertiary institutions, even though it is claimed to be worldwide– NABES Worldwide. Everybody claims to be too wise; the Exco is often poorly organised and more often than not only deeply interested in making money out of the floor members; members lack co-operation; following culture imperialism and attrition, NABES fails to show something tangible, like Bekwarra dress code to the world/other cultures on campus; its Exco often fails to settle whatever pending/impeding issue with the Students’ Affairs Department, such as paying operation levy (tax/es); unresolved electoral and leadership issues and so on. What is most hilarious is that till tomorrow, NABES members worldwide, including those of the home-based institutions, speak English during meetings and with one another when they meet on/off campuses. This is very unlike Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Idoma, Tiv, Ibibio, Efik, etc. students. It is shameful yet they pry about. All of that is borne out of empty pride.
It is often said that pride goes before a fall. The Bekwarra people along with their other Ogoja neighbours are mostly pompous. The implication of the quoted adage on pride here is that a proud nation (people) is bound to fall. On this, Robert (2016) states,
Pride is a social behavioural trait deeply associated with the Ogoja people, such that when an Ogoja (broad Ogoja) person in the Diaspora meets with or is introduced to a fellow Ogoja person, there is cold reception and interaction. This is not necessarily because of their diverse linguistic differences in the whole region but because of pride that breeds contempt or negligence. Only a few Yakurr men outside home are fond of warmth reception of any of their Ogoja brethren in the Diaspora, before disclosing that they are from Yakurr. It is a common thing to see a fellow Bekwarra, Obudu, Yala (with the exclusion of Yache), Nkumm, Ekajuk, Mbube, Alege, Boki, etc. denying being from that tribe or even the state. A (then) Bekwarra NYSC member in Lafia once denied being from both Bekwarra and Cross River but suddenly made a phone call that proved him otherwise, besides his Bekwarra accent, to his lecturer Bekwarra linguist brother. Why? What a shame! Also, an Obudu staff who had done a lot for an Obudu sister he never knew to secure admission into FULafia as well as settle down in the town (all because of her documents addresses) finally met her, tried to tell her that he is her Obudu (clan) brother, and got reproached/rebuked by the young girl that she is not from Obudu. He left her alone. When briefed later by somebody, she had to look for the man, now accepting being from Obudu and thanked him. Most times, a fellow who understands your language or dialect would show off with English Language amidst non-proficiency. What a mess! The examples are numerous. These hinder unity, progress and integration among a people and with others.
The generality of pride among the broad Ogoja nations is what Robert (2015) poetically describes as ‘Ogoja’s shared ‘Rotten Egg’ thus:
Ogoja shared Rotten Egg
A blood-stream shared rotten egg
For a tribal mark
Always full-up and bragging only
For being head-loaded
Envelops and dozens around virtually all Ogoja
Yes! Ogoja stretching from Vandeikya backyard
To just beyond Akampa, other ageing then parts of Ebonyi out
Share a rotten egg that divides them to know
Others, they seldom regard but selves.
Their cold or sour Diaspora ties
Pride, this rotten egg champions
Besides their diverse linguistic splits
The Ogoja meet and see their fellows with pride contempt
These days, many would even deny their Ogoja identity
Unless constrained by Diaspora forces that call
For a townsfolk’s rescue.
Ogoja peoples share pride, a rotten egg
And pride befalls them, mute
Ogoja tribes, break the egg and lay new one
That will hatch due unimaginable good in the land
Like it does for the Igbo who submit with Sir, Sir, Sir, Sir
Their stinky wealth, Ogoja lack, notwithstanding
Ogoja, my people, let’s learn from others
Drop pride, blend up and become better
Rather than being known with the ill odour and label of pride, a rotten egg
Remember thee many more head-loaded than you do good things
Your hot brain most times lies low at home
With no hot experiment at advanced pen-houses
Unlike most Yoruba, the Ekiti most
Ogoja shared rotten egg
An ageing endemic scourge!
From the above, it is clear that pride is a common behavioural trait among all the tribes of the broad Ogoja Region, all for being brave, clever, intelligent and talented. It accounts for their little or no regard for their fellows (brethren), even in the Diaspora unless in dare need of their townsmen/women, notwithstanding their socio-cultural, political and linguistic differences, and sometimes (though less) for other peoples too. Pride makes most of them deny their Ogoja identity these days. The poet points out the implication of pride, as against humility, a virtue that breeds various good things, including wealth, betterment and integration for the Igbo and the Yoruba who are stinking wealthier and more ‘head-loaded’ (educated, learned, brave…) than them– the Ogoja peoples. He notes that the Ogoja do not attain higher levels of Western education like the Yoruba, especially the Ekiti. Yet, the highly educated Yoruba are mostly humble, respectful, submissive, interactive, brotherly, liberal, receptive and successful, unlike the pompous Ogoja and their like. The Ogoja are all enjoined to learn from others and turn a new leave from this their ageing endemic scourge for betterment, since humility and ethnic fraternal love has a lot of prospects (Robert, 2016).
During cultural weeks on campuses and churches’/fellowships’ organised cultural days or fiestas, no Bekwarra person dresses in the classical Bekwarra dress code. Rather, they dress in jeans and suits or at most loose native attire. Even those schooling in Benue are not ashamed of themselves when they see Tiv students using that black and white stripe cloth they either sow jumper shirt, tie as wrapper or cover/place on the shoulder with cap made of the same cloth. Bekwarra’s own used to be likewise but for colour difference and the splinting weaving edge. The colour used to be white with dark navy blue or light yellow or pure white alone, the type used for inang ikonor, the stretching and folding traditional back chair of ancient/aged Bekwarra family elders. Bekwarra men used to tie wrapper, but different from women’s style and what obtains among Efik, Ibibio and Urhobo, among other riverine peoples of the Niger Delta. Most peoples of these areas used similar attire as they had the same flair for gorgeous attire, which was partly why they did sell out people as slaves to the White for nobility cloths/clothes and items. The Bekwarra too, sold and bought slaves for this and other reasons (Njor, 2007; Robert, 2007).
The Bekwarra men tied (supposed to tie) wrapper on their waist crossed to the neck, with/out light shirt or singlet or lace pair. To show royalty, akplor or itang-iyem opatapata was (is) worn on the neck (which was actually specific for titles holders and crowned elders. They roll a piece of cloth and throw across one shoulder downward, crossing the other hand to about the other side of the waist, like the Catholic Church wardens do. This is known as E tiang ukpan-anyam. In another instance, young lady who are out for performance arts, say, dance, most often wore (wear) only beaded beads, having kwere ibam (tied some short piece of cloth with some part crossed and fastened from the front to the back waist region, up above the anus) (Njor, 2017; Robert, 2017; Njor, 2007; Robert, 2007; Ogar, 2015; Ekpenukpang, 2015; Agbor, 2002). Well, this piece of work leaves out details on Bekwarra attire here because that is not its prime concern. It only challenges Bekwarra people to retrace their rich abandoned dress codes and bring them to limelight. Well, this writer would soon resuscitate and bring to limelight/the literature, in his artistic capacity, Bekwarra attire, dress code, arts and such other lay-bare aspects of Bekwarra culture. So, keep in touch and search on for such information sooner or later.
On social media, you hardly have them join the a few available Bekwarra platforms created by a few concerned Bekwarra youths, specifically on Facebook. The rest of them are ‘just too big and civilised’ to join any Bekwarra platforms. Shame! If you attempt chatting with most of them in Bekwarra Language, they either challenge you or simply remove you from their friends list. Yala people and other peoples of Northern and Central Cross River are good at this too. Only a few would attempt chatting in their native dialects/languages. They simply hold on to the excuse of not being taught vernacular (their mother-tongues) at all at school, primary to tertiary. This gap is so in Cross River that even Bekwarra and Ejagham Languages, with statutory formal language status since 1978, following the National Language Policy, are neither taught nor spoken at even nursery/primary schools. Meanwhile, Efik is taught, spoken and used beyond all schools, (nursery to tertiary) to other public endeavours: politics, administration, entertainment, media/broadcasting, business and so on. That is a clear indication of how a language assumes politic power and prominence and is made to overshadow others that are of equal status with it. After all, all languages are equal. And, in this case, Bekwarra and Ejagham share equal statutory place with Efik that seems to have osmotic linguistic effect on them – Bekwarra and Ejagham, all because of its more political and educational influence, championed by its own people. This underlying gap is not only so because of government’s failure to ensure the reality of the formal status of Bekwarra and Ejagham as well as linguistic politics but also because of the negative attitudes of the native speakers of these two of the three official languages of Cross River, which have transcended to and keeps manifesting in their social communication/interaction on the social media (cf. Robert, 2015 and 2016). Speakers and users of Bekwarra and Ejagham ought to take their languages cum cultures to the fore of Cross River politics, education, administration, etc. and as well take them beyond borders to the global village via ICT, social media, the library and the literature.
It is common to see several peoples of Nigeria and other parts of the globe chat, communicate and advertise in their native languages. But only just about three of every ten thousand Bekwarra and their neighbours would bid chatting in their mother-tongues and/or promoting, projecting and developing their own cultures. What a shame! For how long do we continue with culture imperialism and attrition? What a crazy civilisation, modernisation and westernisation of no equal with what obtains among other peoples! Where are Bekwarra elite, academia, linguists, ICT professionals, sociologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, librarians, technologists, communicators (press)… and educated youths? When would they start practising rightly rather than the otherwise currently? For how long do we continue like this, remain culturally and professionally insignificant? Who are we waiting for? Are others (entirely) free from the constraints we constrain ourselves with or could complain about as limiting factors? Arise Bekwarra and the like peoples! Stop slumbering; do something fast and join the moving train of the globalised village, keying into ICT.
Indeed, this writer agrees with Akosu in Uji (2012:40) that there is a major irony which explains why we [the Bekwarra] are [still] where we were 40 years ago. The more the Western world disparages us and literarily runs away from us like some leper[s], the more we hanker after its ways and values; values and ways of those who are prominent members of the international community. …Most importantly, the citizens of these continents [Europe, Asia and America] are proud of their identities and are genuinely patriotic.
Yes! We, Bekwarra, have remained where we were over forty thousand (40,000) years ago because of our negative attitudes toward ourselves and our culture, before, during and after the contact with the West. Before then, the problem was that of rudimentary living, acts and dealings, which were however better in culture projection, promotion and development than the latter times and where we have remained. Westernisation and imperialism of all sorts have been so sustained in the land, Bekwarra in particular and Nigeria at large, that attrition is fast giving way for extinction.
Revolution begins with anyone, anyhow, anywhere and anytime, and must not necessarily be in form of war, terrorism or violence. Revolutionising Bekwarra via ICT (all-round) development and cultural reconstruction, reformation and transformation begins peacefully but radically and sporadically with any/every Bekwarra anyhow, anywhere and anytime. But being so late, it begins now, for tomorrow (anytime) may be too late. Then, its sustenance will be at every/any time. Radical revolutionists like Nyerere, Kenyatta, Nkrumah, Azikiwe, Mandela, Mbutu, King Jaja, Rodney, Fanon, Biko, Mofolo, Achebe, Ngugi, Soyinka, Ahmadu Bello, Akiga, Afigbo, Erim, Dike, Wiwa, among others took up their personal envisaged role in revolution– causing new world order– and fought in their respective and collective might and measures to cause some desired changes, for which they are honoured even by the Westerners. Through their actions, deeds and write-ups, they reconstructed and reformed their societies and peoples, rid their societies of evils and put them on the right tracks for development and thus carved an esteemed niche for them in the global community then and now. Achebe, for instance, worried by the ugly development, trends, situations and state forces of his society (Nigeria) in particular and such others in general, took to aggressive objective writing of image-making to recreate the battered image of his society and peoples by the prejudiced colonial ‘lords’ and writers, to repair all that had been spoilt, and to rouse the masses to revolting against oppressions and evils of all kinds, especially from the elites, indigenous and alien.
Spread through ICT (social media/networking), such revolution is what this work advocates among Bekwarra and the like nations both in Cross River State and beyond. There are Bekwarra writers and various professionals out there. The problem is that while some are dormant, others are only interested in anything non-Bekwarra (non-indigenous), not realising that it is the peoples of those cultures who made a splash to them now that had best created, worked on, projected, promoted and developed them to have become so, which they still sustain immemorial. Admonishing the need for sporadic, radical and all-round cultural development for sustained progress, Akosu in Uji (2012:43) writes, ‘Yes, progress must be made but it must be an accumulation unto our own old Africa [Bekwarra]. But today, which values of the cherished Africa [Bekwarra] are kept by anybody, including the leaders? None.’ The untold worry about the current otherwise– the ugly development of not being interested in and not keeping our cherished values by virtually no one, for which the Bekwarra and the like peoples are dormant to ICT and culture projection and development– is why Akosu in Uji (2012:43) laments,
…We mourn an Africa [Bekwarra] past in which we lived in a peace that can never be recovered in the new world governed by technology. We mourn a world in which there was no cut-throat politics. We mourn a world in which life was sacred and leaders in the community were respected because they governed in the best interest of the community. Those chiefs and medicine men did not think of self but the other(s).
ICT and Social Networking
The introduction of infrastructure and technological innovations into countries has always been curses and blessing opportunities for socio-economic, cultural and political life of human beings. Every technological innovation has been a topic of debate and centre of researchers’ attention and same is the case with the development of social networking sites. Various researchers have conducted studies to pinpoint the several impacts of these sites on their users and findings suggest both bright and dark aspects. Hence, many countries gained open access to the internet due to rapid advances in information technology within the last twenty years (Kuppuswamy & Narayan, 2010). In fact, the world wide web (www), originally created in 1990 for US military forces, has become not only an effective instrument for the management of US army, but later a convenient tool issued by civilians for communication, entertainment and learning purposes. One of the most popular and recognised platforms used on the internet for social networking sites is the Facebook.
One of the most powerful social media platforms is Facebook. It was initially privately conceived within and navigated through the social networks of students at Harvard, and subsequently at these famous universities: Princeton, Yale and Stanford. If we consider the birth of this particular social media interface at Harvard, we can recognise it as a telling example of how components of a university’s social ‘community’ were rapidly transferred onto this online platform. Since its inception, this interface has expanded across multiple college communities and then quickly encompassed a wider range of connected networks of individuals and groups around the world. Today, the adoption of social media technology now stretches across the globe, integrating into the lives of individuals of diverse social, national, racial and ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds (Bedassa, 2014). Therefore, it is imperative for Bekwarra, Nigerian and African students and peoples to rightly key into ICT cum social media in like manner with their contemporaries of other nations rather the current otherwise. It is not even out of place for them to create, discover and invent like their contemporaries of Asia, Ghana, China, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Germany, and of course America and Europe. For how long do we keep using things made by others, without making some for others to use likewise? There are a lot much more than friendship, relationship, chatting, posting of pictures and personal information, e-learning from others, etc. to do with ICT cum social media on the internet. These include e-culture displays, fiestas and competitions, cultural forums, e-culture education, information and posts, e-mass media cultural broadcasting and socialisation, writing on indigenous cultures, peoples and panorama as well as in native languages/dialects, presenting and showcasing various indigenous dress codes, creating and sharing on cultural online forums and networking sites, and advertising and promoting one’s culture as well as condemning the negative aspects of the culture and the negative attitudes of the people even though it is/ they are yours.
Social networking sites (SNS) are the latest online communication tool that allows users to create a public or a private profile to interact with people in their networks (Boyd & Ellison, 2008). Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, Cyworld, Bebo, Twitter and other social network sites are the best examples of social networking sites that allow individuals and peoples to present themselves to other users using a variety of formats, including text, video and chat services. These sites have become an increasingly important part of young adult life (Gemmill & Peterson, 2006). Relative to the general population, adolescents and young adults are the heaviest computer and internet users, primarily using it for completing school assignments (36%), e-mail and/or instant messaging (26%), and playing computer games (38%) (DeBell & Chapman, 2006). Social networking sites incorporate a list of other users with whom individuals share connections. But unlike any other web service, social networking sites allow individuals to make visible their list of connections to others and to traverse their social networks (Boyd & Ellison, 2007). Hence, more than virtual lessons from Facebook communities born online, SNS are usually online communities created and maintained to reflect offline relationships.
Social networking sites can be defined as web-based services that allow individuals to construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system (Boyd & Ellison, 2008). Facebook was created by Mark Zuckerberg to help residential college and university students to identify students in other residence halls. It is described as ‘an online directory that connects people through social networks at colleges and universities’ (Zuckerberg, 2005). Websites such as MySpace and the more popular FB have millions of registered users, with FB becoming the overwhelmingly more popular SNS (comScore, 2009; Gonzalez, 2009). Facebook, being at the forefront of the social media craze, has over 500 million active users on its website every month. It emerged on February 4, 2004, when a 19-year-old sophomore Harvard student named Mark Zukerberg founded the revolutionary site to connect Harvard University students (Grossman, 2010). But later, this site allows users to build social networks with hundreds or even thousands of people around the world of which university students are one of the primary demographics using Facebook, with features such as photos, wall posts and status updates becoming seemingly irresistible to those who want to connect with their friends (Gold, 2011).
Smith’s (2011) study for the Pew Internet and American Life Project reports that African Americans and Latinos had equal or greater rates of usage of social media platforms, often from cellular devices, as compared to White Internet users in 2010. In a separate Pew report on Asian Americans and technology [ICT], Rainie (2011) reports Asian Americans as the leaders in overall internet usage, mobile connectivity through cell phones, laptops, and wireless devices, but they remain on par with social media engagement as other minority groups. This gives credence to why the Asian nations, cultures and economies, along with other panorama are growing rapidly and gaining wide fame and recognition borne out the niche they (have) carve(d) for themselves for adequately and rightly keying into ICT. Although there currently a vast gap exists between such nations and others like Bekwarra, the latter can do likewise and attain same or even greater place, status and fame in the digital global village. This is why this paper insists on effective projecting, developing, promoting and sustaining of cultures like Bekwarra that are still grossly lagging behind because their elites have refused to act and do what is right towards sustainable human, material and societal well-being and advancement. These elite-made negative trends are supported and promoted by their youths. The task of projecting, promoting and developing cultures like Bekwarra via ICT cum social networking (social media) lies basically with the younger generation. Of course, it has been reported that comparatively, younger generations remain by far the greatest beneficiaries and users of SNS. Among users 18-29 years of age, 86% are actively engaged in social networking compared to just 61% of users 30-49 years old, 47% of users 50-64 years old, and only 26% of users over 65 years of age (Madden, 2010).
Unlike the communication functions of other online technologies, SNS in particular, has provided a virtual landscape mirroring familiar elements of community as we understood and experienced it prior to the existence of such technologies. Social media technology links people together in ways that resemble traditional feelings of connection, belonging, loosely defined memberships, exchange of feelings and ideas, and the reporting of experiences and actions. Indeed, some suggest that SMT has suddenly lowered the costs of collaborating, sharing, and producing, thus providing revolutionary new forms of interaction and problem-solving (Shirky, 2010). We can now create, maintain, and access both well-defined and amorphously defined communities online, while also using the social media technology as a tool to fluidly transition between online and face-to-face contact via friendships, planned activities, and other more formal organizational affiliations (Bedassa, 2014).
The social networking in general and Facebook in particular offers significant advantages for its users, for example, sharing and collecting information, searching for jobs, communication, and entertainment (Bedassa, 2014). Vast quantities of information of different types are stored on the Internet. Usually, the information on the Internet is free of cost and is available 24 hours a day. In addition, the Facebook provides its users with the latest news of the world and most of the newspapers are available on the Internet, which are periodically or immediately updated with the latest news (Rice, 2006). Thus, Facebook users can almost instantaneously learn about news events, read news articles or opinions about world events, and share this information and their own thoughts with others like themselves. People around the world can now quickly communicate with each other through the Facebook, using a range of applications: chatting, Wall post, and helps to download some books. The Facebook also provides different types of entertainment. For instance, users can play games with other people in any part of the world, watch movies and listen to music. Above all, it helps users to form new relationships on this site (Ellison, Steinfield, & Lampe, 2007; Whitty & McLaughlin, 2007). Bedassa (2014) aptly observes,
Over the last decade, and particularly in the last five or six years, SNS has transformed our thinking about our relationships, our connections with and affinity to others, and the influence and persuasive power of online communities on how we think, organize, and act politically. Since the inception of the Internet and integration of email technology into our personal and work lives, our ways of communicating began to change. However, it was not until the creation of social media interfaces like Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter and other similar applications that have we seen such a massive harnessing of the potential of the now-pervasive online connectivity in our everyday lives.
The Internet and the Social Media
The internet (net or web) is a more interactive means of mass media as well as social media, which can be described as network, the network of Pluclaskas (1994), that houses or connects all networks and individual stand-alone computers to intertwine to form a global network that connects people all around the world. The internet is a massive network of networks, a networking infrastructure. It connects computers together globally, forming a network in which any other computers as long as they are both connected to the internet (www.webopedia.com/did you know/internet/2015/web-vs. internet-asp). According to Okoye (2000:192), by 1999, the internet was used by an estimated number of 50 million people worldwide; Gutenbery made us all readers, radio and television made us all journalists, broadcasters, columnists, commentator and critics. In 1997, FindeganJur and Viswanath identified three main effects or functions of mass media (social media) in the internet, viz:
1. Knowledge gap theory: the media of influences knowledge gap due to factors including the extent to which the content is appealing, the degree to which information channel are accessible and desirable, the rate of social conflict and diversity existent in communication.
2. Agenda setting theory: people are influenced in how they think about issues due to the selective nature of what the media place on the internet for public consumption.
3. Cultivation theory: the extent to which media exposure shapes audience perception over time is termed cultivation (little john) www.white pages.com
Access to the internet is usually through either of these:
(a) Through an internet service provider (ISP), a company that connect a subscriber to the net and usually charges fees;
(b) Through a commercial online service, such as American online or MSN.
Once connected to the internet, an individual can make use of a variety of services and tools for communication and information exchange (white pages com.). The internet seemingly has the most impact on television usage. This is not surprising since much internet use takes place too generally (Anjugu, 2013). Social media via networking manifest certain impact on learners in like manner with those of technology in general. For seven years now, Presenky’s (2001) dichotomy between digital natives and digital immigrants has been considered a relatively accurate representative of the ease with which people of a certain age range, particularly those born before and after 1980, use technology. Social networking with its educational use is of interest to many researchers. It has also been proven that social networking provides opportunity within professional education but however there are constraints in such areas.
Social media refer to all the mobile and computer/internet (electronic) means of communication or social interaction among distantly dispersed people who create, share, exchange and comment on different messages/contents. The concept, as a duo, compound-word or a two-word/ phrase, describes organised group of internet-based applications that allow for the creation, sharing, exchange and evaluation of user-generated contents/messages electronically programmed as a respective distinct forum for wide communication between and among friends, relatives mates/colleagues, neighbours, families, etc. Social media are also emerging as online year book for private and public use. It allows anyone from the general public to register and connect to others. It allows participants the opportunity for just in time learning and engagement and prescribed curriculum. Jerkins (2006) describe this as participatory creature. It creates space for learners, which James (2004) suggests affinity space and dispersion of expertise and relatedness for learning. In 1994, it was reported that the number of the users with access to the internet was growing at the rate of 101% per month. Forecast were given that by the turn of the century, there might be one million networks, one hundred million computers and one billion users of the internet users in the U.S. was growing at an average annual, rate of 70% and would surpass users in the U.S. by 2002.
As of July, 1999, 205 countries had at least one connection to internet. Estimate of the number of people in the internet seem to range between 50 and 80 million worldwide. It was originally designed by the U.S. military in 1969 under the name: Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA). The first ARPA configuration involved four computers dispersed over a wide area (Ohidayo and Levi, 2008:101-102). Furthermore, in the early, 1990s, chat rooms and bulletin boards were forms of social networking in a way. They help people connect with others and share interest. A little cater; dating sites hooked those looking for partners and classmates. Communications allow people to connect with other people they had known at high (secondary) schools and colleges and enable them to meet others. The abuse of the potentials and prospects of the communication (networking) platforms by becoming addicted to them –social media such that the act begins to gradually affect /influence the users. That is the rightful use of the media does not lead to the negative aspects or sides of it. The youths of nations like Bekwarra ought to use the social media rightly as such. For now, they are either not playing their supposed role or are simply not so using these media rightly.
The Global (Mobile) System Mobile (GSM) is one of the developmental phases and achievements of globalisation. These developments, no doubt, have and manifest several positive effects on the society at large and education in particular. Social media are elements/features of both GSM and computer. Social networking is made manifest with these two basic technological and scientific communication devices across the globe among vast heterogeneous audience, both strange and close/familiar. These devices along with their developed global electronic communication channels have made wide social interaction, teaching and learning, knowledge exchange, business/trade transactions, love relationship/dating, messaging, service delivery, security, health care, public administration and development very possible and easy. According to Aguolu and Aguolu (2002:24), since the end of World War II, right up to the 1980s, many scientists in the industrial countries have placed their total faith in the computer and telecommunication technologies as the only hope in the solution of information problems in science and technology. Similarly, Tule (2003:2) notes that globalisation is traced to the 19th and early 20th centuries, but between 1950, early 1970’s and the 1980’s a new wave of globalisation, engineered by international trade, free capital and rapid change in transport and communication technology, emerged.
Anjugu (2013:26) observes that it is easy to confuse social media with social news because we often refer to members of the news as the media; adding to it that social news is also social media. Some website includes:
1. Social book marking: Interaction by telling website and searching through website book marked by others, e.g. Blink/black list simple.
2. Social news - interaction by voting for articles and commenting on them, e.g. Digg, Propello.
3. Social network - interacting by adding friends, commenting on photo and profiles, sharing group/s for discussions, e.g. Facebook, 2go, BB(BlackBerry) chat.
4. Social photo and video sharing –interaction involving sharing photos and videos and commenting on the user submission, e.g. U-tube and Filki.
5. Wikis-interaction that involves adding articles and editing articles e.g. Wikipedia, Wikia.
For Andreas and Michael (2000), social media are groups of internet applications that build on ideological foundation and allow for the creation and exchange of users-generated contents. These are media (e.g.2go, BBM, Bluffer,) the major channels/ platforms for communication that have created new means of browsing or sorting the internet. Kaplam and Haenlein (2010) classify social media into six groups, viz:
1. Collaborative project (Wikipedia)
2. Blogs and micro-blogs (Twitter)
3. Contents communities (U-tube)
4. Social networking site (Facebook, 2go, BB chat)
5. Visual game world (world of war craft)
6. Visual second world (Second life)
Technology includes the blogs, picture sharing, music sharing, crowd sourcing, e-mail, and instant messaging and voice record. These services could be interacted via social network application platforms social media (Anjugu, 2013:28).
The popularity of social media, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Xing, (2go,BBM,Whatsapp, Eskimi, YouTube, Skype Instagram, Palmchat, Wi-chat BB-world, Google chat, Yahoo chat, Viber, Frim, Badoo, etc.) continues to grow evenly, providing people with amazing opportunities to interact through social networks (Hinz et al., 2011; Junco, 2013; Messerschmitt, Berger and Skiera, 2010; Nadkarni and Hofmann, 2012; Sierra, Hinz and Span, 2015;Anjugu, 2013). Many people happily make use of these opportunities by spending significant time on social media (Schulze, Scholer and Skiera, 2014). Through the interactions and links that people typically maintain on these platforms-social media- individuals can gain access to resources that may be key to their professional success (Baldwin, Bedell and Johnson, 1997), including information and links to important others (Burt, 1992a) and functional communication networks that lead to effective organisational forms (Rogers,1979). Young people are known to use the social media most. Consider the figure below:
Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten
Source: Professors Tom Moring and Lia Markelin (n.d.)
Prospects of ICT in Nigeria
Human interaction has increased tremendously both in relations since the 20th and early21st centuries that the whole world communities can be conceived as a global village. This trend definitely is due mainly to teleological feat in information communication whereby sophisticated and high speed equipment facilitate the consumption, appreciation and knowledge of events in most parts of the world by others outside there, as such events are still in process. Indeed, it is the unprecedented reduction of the duration of interaction among diverse groups and individual state and nation state that makes globalisation spectacular (Gabriel, 2006:7/9).
According to Haruna and Oyelekan (2010:16), information is daily at high demand, realising the growing complexities of present day society and the increasing demands for information, referral services, a new dimension, is recommend supplementing traditional library services. It is a vehicle for a shared access to a universe of information larger than the local library resources. This means that the increasing daily demand for information calls for improved information resources and services, towards better communication and interaction through (English) language proficiency, improved quality and standard of education as well as reforming and developing the society at large. It is perhaps in view of the foregoing that Gotau and Robert (2015) write,
There is the dire need to increase the level of acquisition and utilisation of these information resources and services, which are yet to be appropriately and sufficiently tapped from to alleviate poverty in developing economies, like Nigeria. Developed economies skill amidst their advancement key deeply into the information sector, which we refer to here as information economy, capable of shouldering problems like [poor education, communication defects,] poverty, unemployment crises etc., if duly tapped and its potentials harnessed and well utilised. It is the extreme place of the information economy in the all-round development of a nation that the developed nations like USA and Europe have classified/developed ‘information’ as one of the factors of production, next to ‘entrepreneur’.
The poor reading culture of Nigerians is one of the characteristics of the Nigerian nation. It is in line with this thought that Aina, Ugungbeni, Adgun and Ogundipe (2011) maintain that the way of life of a nation is influenced by the percentage of its citizen who is literate. The foregoing partly sheds light on why the ugly trends continuously thrive. Henry (2004) has stated that out of the 814 million illiterate people in the world, developing countries, especially in Africa, represent a huge percentage. However, Latin America, Asia, and others are making frantic efforts to drastically reduce the illiteracy rate, but owing to the following reasons, the same cannot be said of Africa.
Cuba, for example, is adjacent to the US and has the highest rate of literacy in the world. This is among the reasons why Cuba has a vibrant economy despite decades of diplomatic conflicts with the strongest nation in the world (Henry, 2004). Tracy (2008) asserts that being a former British colony, Nigeria’s literacy culture ought to be as standardised as that of the Britain. About 99% of British citizens can read and write. The same cannot be said of Nigeria. Yet, most often, many simply deceive themselves that every piece of information is online; any that could not be found is worthless or does not exist. These people forget that only the information uploaded on the internet by a person(s), a group(s) and so on could be found online. Topo (2005) is of the view that the need today is the thoughtful integration of book reading with high tech, i.e., the integration of multi-media activities such as photography, printing and drawing, sewing and crafts, 3-D and digital art, hip-hop, claymation, and online services in our libraries. This will reverse the decline in book reading among children and adults. Oke (1996) affirms also that a conscious effort should be made by all stakeholders in the educational system to promote reading habit. According to him, equipping libraries is the first practical step in these efforts. With the use of internet and social media, the traditional methods of disseminating information about our indigenous cultures and knowledge. The internet is offering a different approach to information dissemination by globalising peoples and their cultures, through which we can easily promote and advertise ourselves and panorama to much wider domestic and international audiences.
The pace of development of ICT in every facet of human life is quite appreciable. In as much as ICT has been found to be an indispensable tool in various facets of human society, education too has adopted ICT in various ways since it has been found to be of useful support in teaching and learning process. Teachers as nation builders cannot afford to be left behind in the revolutionary approach to modern day knowledge. It becomes highly imperative for the educational planners to be concerned with evolving effective strategies for teaching and learning of instructions in our various schools. Modern education techniques will have to be increasingly used and improved at all levels of the educational system. ICT possesses a great potential for education and capacity building. It allows for systematic gathering, processing and dissemination of information through the use of creative tools for managing and delivering subject matter (Bonsu et al., 2013; Aina et al., 2011). ICT has been a veritable tool that could be used to enhance quality of education in various ways: by increasing learner motivation and engagement, by facilitating the acquisition of basic skills, and by enhancing teacher training. Daramola (2006) affirms that ICTs are transformational tools which when used appropriately can promote the shift to a learner-centred environment. It therefore becomes highly imperative for teachers to take advantage of ICT to enhance their skills to keep abreast with global developments.
Both developed and developing countries are undertaking a key vital task of streamlining their education and training systems to meet the development requirements in the context of changing environment (Yamba, 2012). In the past two decades, ICT has had a tremendous impact (Oliver, 2001). The power of ICT has brought a tremendous change to various aspects of people’s lives. As technology keeps on changing speedily, it requires a new set of mind to emerge as cost effective, powerful technology; its great potential continues to surface in education. Thus, a totally new set of skills is required in this 21st century of globalisation in information and technology (Hawkins, 2002). The role of ICT in education should be more stressed in strategic polices of developing countries to train their youth to contend in this informative, knowledge and technological era. Thus, ICT can be used to build up student’s ability to produce solutions in their learning, communication and cooperation (Plomp et al., 1996; Voogt, 2003). For African countries to significantly trim down the gaps of knowledge, technology and economy with the developed countries, the development and application of ICT in the continent’s higher institutions of learning is very essential (Kofi, 2007). Whereas computers and technology are common (Cuban, 2001), developing countries are not enjoying their benefits due to certain obstacles. These obstacles include inadequate financial support for purchasing of the technology, lack of training for teaching practitioners and inadequate motivation for teachers to adopt ICT as teaching tools (Starr, 2001). Studies have reported poor ICT competency skills as contributors to poor adoption levels (Mooij and Smeets, 2001).
Awe (1997) offers the following importance of ICT:
i. There is need to have a more accurate and cost effective knowledge to assist when formulating decision. The manual system is faced with several setbacks.
ii. There is need to ameliorate mental and physical efforts in solving certain tasks.
iii. There is need to foster improved client services.
iv. There is need to reduce cost by eliminating or reducing inefficient practices.
Challenges of ICT in Nigeria
The information flow in developing countries affects both availability and accessibility of information resources. Haruna (2005) observes that the initiation and development of Information Technology service in Nigeria is militated against by certain human and materials factors. Some of them are highlighted as follow:
- ICT facilities are expensive and unaffordable to many individuals, private and some government establishments.
- Necessary infrastructures such as electricity and telephone for the operation of ICT components are lacking or grossly operated at epileptic level.
- Lack of adequate trained manpower for the development, maintenance and operation of ICT facilities to service the increase demand of Information Technology service in Nigeria.
- Poor remuneration for the inadequate personnel in ICT which consequently keep them away from labour markets in Nigeria.
- Lack of total commitment on the part of government towards the development of ICT sector.
- Inadequate funding of internet connectivity because it is capital intensive.
- Lack of adequate knowledge among the educational planners, administrators as well as the society on the importance of ICT in educational system.
Again, considering the rapid changes in information provision in the 21st century with computerised access, digitalised information formats, and the plethora of resources on the internet, access and retrieval capabilities, users who are traditionally accustomed to manual information library systems, find it difficult to use the ICT (Zondi, 2004). In the same vein, Kent (2009) notes that even most users who have personal computers can find only a fraction of the sources available to them. The cost of internet subscription is also a serious challenge to most of these teachers who are grossly owed salaries and/or underpaid. Constrained by poverty, they mostly resort to economising their resources. Internet subscriptions are outrageous in developing nations. This fact has been given proven and stated by Mansell (2014:1/4) thus:
The spread of connectivity to the Internet is giving rise to renewed expectations that there will be good opportunities for firms in poorer countries to reap the benefits of global networking. However, barriers to connectivity continue to be substantial as indicated both by aggregate statistics on the spread of the Internet and on the costs of access. …In addition, the prices paid by businesses and many citizens for Internet access are prohibitively high in many poor countries as compared to the wealthier industrialised countries The cost of personal computers also can represent more than a year’s salary for people in many developing countries.
More so, obtaining access to the internet may lead to substantial cost savings for users as a result of their use of email or information that is mounted on the web. However, as a UN Human Development Report (1999) has noted, it should not be assumed that the presence of a network and computers means that they are accessible for all users or that their use will automatically lead to gains in productivity. Institutional norms and practices can create barriers to access and efficient use even when the internet and other ICT applications are technically available. Subscribing to the above, Mansell (2014:3-4) adds,
In addition, the prices paid by businesses and many citizens for Internet access are [sic] prohibitively high in many poor countries as compared to the wealthier industrialised countries... The continuing presence of a “digital divide” means there is a substantial risk that those without access to the Internet will be marginalised. The extension of global telecommunication networks appears to offer firms in developing countries new means of communication and information exchange, which could enable them to compete on a more equal footing with other firms in world markets. This is because the new technologies have the potential to make possible cost reductions in infrastructure provision and service development. This would suggest that the application of ICTs should enable firms in developing countries to sell [deliver] their products and services more easily in external, distant markets.
The imbalance between developing and developed nations in the use of ICT has been studied and proven by several scholars and institutions (e.g. Mansell, 2014; Commonwealth, 2000). The imbalance manifests in various phases and are man-tailored by those in the developed nations perhaps to sustain neo-colonialism through globalisation and ICT. ICT cost for the developing nations is outrageous, as confirmed by Mansell (2014), who however enjoins firms and institutions of the nations to still key into effective ICT use regardless of all that. The imbalance manifests in forms of outrageous internet charges and poor network services. Coverage limitation in the developing countries by ICT investors of the developed countries is another challenge. The phrase ‘digital divide’ clear describes the whole imbalance between the developed and the developing nations in respect to ICT in all regards. Low literacy, poor technical-know-how, unfavourable policies and logistics and infrastructural lack, among others, are home-based problems that have been left unresolved by the government. Negative attitudes toward effective ICT use by the populace of the developing nations [Bewarra people inclusive] constitute another set of challenge. The Internet Software Consortium (www.isc.org) has given credence to the above. The figures given are objectively explored by Mansell (2014:3-5) as follows:
…By January 2003 there was [sic] an estimated total of 171,638,297 top level hosts. Growth since 1996 in the numbers of registered hosts that enable access to the Internet has been enormous. However, Figure 1.2 shows the unequal distribution of these hosts. The results of the January 2003 survey of domain name hosts show that hosts assigned country names in the industrialised world accounted for 26.2% of the total of 171,638,297 top level hosts. Hosts assigned developing country names accounted for only 2.4% of these names and the Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) contributed only 1.4% of these names. Figure 1.2 also shows that the number of hosts in the Business/Commercial (.aero.biz.com) and Organisation (net, pro, .org, name.int, .coop, aq.) categories accounted for a substantial share of the total hosts. Hosts opting to register under the domain names of info.edu, or museum, that is, the Educational or Informational categories, accounted for only 4.4% of the total. These data show the overwhelming predominance of industrialised countries and the prevalence of commercial and formal organisational uses of the Internet. There is, as many observers have claimed, a “digital divide” between the wealthy and poor countries and, although not indicated by these data, within countries and regions. It is also widely acknowledged that the majority of the content of the World Wide Web is produced in the English language, creating a barrier for many potential users…
More so, Aguolu (2004) posits that the failure to seek the information one needs when it is available may be attributed to some factors like lack of appreciation of the value of information due to poor education and illiteracy; ignorance of the potential possibilities of the existing information services; absence of suitable library and information services; the inability of the library users on the other hand to obtain what they want or need; non availability of appropriate guides to the existing information in the libraries; failure to approach librarians on his problems for whatever reasons; non availability of suitable staff to assist the user in locating the needed information or record; limitation of access to the appropriate documents due to administrative or physical barriers imposed on their use; the library may lack adequate hardware to access the information sources in non-print media and in electronic forms.
On the whole, it is indisputable that the Bekwarra are yet to key into the effective/good use and development potentials of ICT. There exists no site on/for Bekwarra people and culture. Both secular and traditional politics are not aired or written about and publicised/criticised on the internet. One could only get about two to five-page information on Bekwarra secular politics but less than a page or even nothing at all on its traditional politics. Youths and educated elites of this nation, who ought to voluntarily shoulder the task of projecting, promoting and developing, sustaining, popularising and digitalising Bekwarra with its panorama, are simply doing nothing towards these. Rather, they resort to keying into the entertainment and social media interaction prospects of ICT alone. Like other young peoples in Nigeria and beyond, most Bekwarra youths and educated elites merely engage in worthless posts, posting and commenting on flimsy individuals’ events and information, such as ‘bed things on my mind,’ ‘hello friends’, … love news, fabricated photo shopping, socio-political and economic information and so on.
This paper insists that Bekwarra people and other peoples that have not duly keyed into ICT development potentials should regularly and continuously do so, rather than merely chatting and networking less important things on social media (internet). Being that this paper rouses their consciousness/attention to what and how they ought to rightly key into ICT and considering the huge benefits of projecting, promoting and developing both the people and culture of Bekwarra, it is expected that the current negative attitudes among Bekwarra and the like toward the right use and channelling of ICT knowledge, potentials and technological media/facilities would be abruptly and collectively dropped for the positive opposite. Despite the challenges likely faced in doing so, it is still imperative to do so because of the numerous prospects of ICT, which those who have done (do) so are benefiting immensely from amidst them, surmounting them in any ways possible.
Bekwarra and other yet-to-be popular cultures can only continue to exist if all that needs to be done to preserve, transmit, develop, promote, project and protect them are done rightly by the peoples, and other persons and authorities with the capacities and resources and hold no prejudices against others cum their cultures. Bekwarra people, culture, language and panorama can best be projected, promoted and developed through ICT. The basic task is for those who are computer literate among them to effectively utilise and harness their acquired knowledge in this area, teach others and bring every bit of/about Bekwarra to limelight through ICT cum social media. By so doing, Bekwarra will suddenly and duly rise to the apex of all-round development, sharing a good place with other cultures that have attained such height in the global village. The admonition of Robert, Abubkar and Besong (2016) aptly gives give credence to our muse thus:
In order to be artistic, creative, learned and able to have a past, a present and a future– cultural identity/continuity– and write, we must embrace our oral tradition/knowledge cum oral information resources and media, like oral archives, oral translation, poetry, folklore and others. Effective indigenous cultural socialisation, education (transmission), preservation, appreciation, use/utilisation, promotion, documentation and sustenance are the thankless task for all concerned.
To effect and realise the desired change, re-orientation, sensitisation, mass literacy and attitudinal change are the first requisites, followed by effective acquisition and utilisation of ICT knowledge and resources are basically recommended. This task lies more with the Bekwarra youths, elite, technicians/technologists (ICT professionals) and government, while the non-Bekwarra people and Cross River and Federal governments with such capacities and resources owe her worthwhile supports.
It is high time the government, elites, mass media, youths, and peoples of Bekwarra and the like nations rose to this underlying development gap and bridged it with efficient and lasting measures that would rouse/ensure the desired change, borrowing a leave from those other nations like the afore-mentioned to adequately, properly and rightly key into ICT development and positive potentials. Bekwarra writers, artists, academia, and ICT, library and media professionals have an endless kernel role to play in this regard across times. Their works would not only project, develop and promote Bekwarra people and culture, but also attract the attention, studies and support of non-Bekwarra scholars and authorities. It is also high time we dropped empty pride, such as that exhibited by many NABES members, youths and academia, Bekwarra in Diaspora to one another, and that towards projecting Bekwarra via ICT cum social/mass media on the internet, among others.
Both Bekwarra immediate and extended (other) governments should duly support Bekwarra to key and fit into the digitalised global village of the contemporary world. This applies to the cases of other nations too. Such gestures should include sponsorship of Bekwarra people and cultural programmes. The Bekwarra Language statutory status should cease to be a mere paper thing in the state. It is high time Bekwarra is duly taught and learnt through at least the primary and secondary schools in the Cross River North, if not across the state. There is need for the School of Languages, Federal College of Education, Obudu and that of College of Education, Awi, Akampka to begin offering/running Bekwarra as an autonomous Language (Course), as in the cases of English, French, Efik, etc.
The whole situation calls for one strong formidable Bekwarra youth, academia and elite unions respectively. The unions are suggested thus: Bekwarra General Youth Congress International (BEGEYOCINT) with subordinates like Utugbo/Ika-Ichia Youth Assembly, Nyanya Youths, Ukpah Youth Union, Abuachuru Ebeten, Gakem United Youth, etc.; Bekwarra Diaspora Youth (BEKDY); Bekwarra Indigenous Academia (BEKIA); Bekwarra Erudite Scholars (BESC); Bekwarra Elitist Ambassadors (BEAM); National Association of Bekwarra Artists International (NABAI); Best Bekwarra Faces (BBF); Distinguished Bekwarra Sons and Ladies (DIBSLA); Bekwarra Women Union (BEKWU); Bekwarra Widow Support Organisation (BEKWISO); Council of Bekwarra Elders (COBE); Council of Mr and Miss Bekwarra (COMMIB); Royal Volunteered Custodians of Bekwarra Arts and Culture; Save and Sustain Bekwarra Group (the S’ Bekwarra); Proudly Bekwarra Group (PBG); National Association of Bekwarra Workers (NABEKWO); ETI-INE EBEKWARRA (the E’ Bekwarra) [i.e. Bekwarra Military Personnel]; Alushi Ebekwarra – Bekwarra Police– (EBALU); Akawe Ebekwarra– The Bekwarra Writers– (EBAKA); etc.
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