BBC premiered its new Pidgin service on Monday, August 21, hopeful that the station will attract the estimated 75 million Pidgin speakers in Nigeria, as well as Pidgin speakers in Cameroon, Ghana and Sierra Leone.
Pidgin, for the unfamiliar, is a hybrid language that mixes English with one or more other languages. About 5 million Nigerians speak Pidgin as their first language.
Pidgin was once considered the language of the poorly educated. It has found legitimacy in Nigeria's broadcasting space after a local radio station, Wazobia FM, broadcasted entirely in the language mixed with English and various local languages, the BBC reports. Wazobia bills itself as "The People's Station."
That pioneering station's success has inspired the BBC to follow suit.
“Whenever you talk to people about the BBC doing a Pidgin service, they think it’s a joke — Pidgin is a humorous language spoken across many borders, with many variations. It’s a language we communicate and joke with,” Digital Lead for BBC Africa Miriam Quansah told niemanlab.org. “It’s spoken by so many people, but nobody ever thought an international broadcaster based in the U.K. would be prepared to offer news content in it.”
???????? "We don land gidigba!' (We've finally arrived!)????
Meet the team behind BBC Pidgin, launching tomorrowhttps://t.co/iHdOBqGoOD for more pic.twitter.com/TAzMmcV8nq
— BBC Africa (@BBCAfrica) August 20, 2017
To start with, the service will have a Nigerian focus, with its headquarters in Lagos. However, it already has reporters hard at work in Ghana and Cameroon as well.
The BBC plans to expand its local language footprint in the Crown's former colonies, and across the African continent.
The corporation will slowly add services in other African languages such as Afaan Oromo, Amharic, Tigrinya, Igbo and Yoruba. This is all in the hopes of reaching 500 million people worldwide by 2022.
The new Pidgin website features a mix of local, regional and international news, feature stories and podcasts, aimed at a younger audience.