The idea for a project to translate Linux into Igbo came out of discussions held on the Nigerian Linux User’s Group about how to move free and open source software forward within Nigeria. Like other Linux localization efforts, we recognized that most people in Nigeria are more comfortable using their native languages for communication and translating Linux into one of these languages will greatly encourage and enhance the use of information technology among the Nigerian population.
Choosing the Igbo language is important. There are conservatively about 25 million people in Nigeria who speak Igbo – a number larger than the population of many countries and one that provides a sizable user base for open source software. There have also been several recent initiatives in the intellectual community to define a standard orthography and ICT representation for the Igbo language. This project will merge with and build on these efforts.
The benefits of Linux are well known. As a computer platform, it provides all the necessary software features (i.e. user-friendly desktop, office applications, Internet tools and multimedia. Its open code base allows for highly tailored customization and localization not so easily available with other operating system software such as Microsoft Windows. Most importantly, its free licensing structure makes it especially appealing for use in Nigeria where income levels are low.
We envision that translating Linux into Igbo will be a tremendous step forward for the Igbo people. It will equip the Igbo masses with the tools of 21st century communication and productivity.
This project is guided by the general principles of the open source movement. It is a collaborative project that involves contributors from all around the world and it will be distributed under the GNU GPL license.