Fellow team members and volunteers,
It is a thing of joy to see the end of another year – another 12 months, another 52 weeks, another 365 days. It is, more importantly, a thing of gratitude to God to know that we are still here together. A people from different family backgrounds, different religious and cultural orientations, yet believing in this little vision that is bigger than us all. As we with grateful hearts see the wrapping up of another year, I want to use this medium to tell you how grateful I am to each one of you, how indebted I am to you for your great contributions to the things we have achieved here – the growths, the successes, the expansions.
The year 2021, like her predecessor, 2020 was a globally unpredictable and volatile year with the sustained impacts of Covid-19 hitting world economies, the increased insecurities in our local communities, the joblessness and lawlessness that hunted the world governments, just to mention a few. In all these things, we can look back to such a great feat we achieved. We began the year with the first-ever Conference of Indigenous Hands and Voices of African Descent (IHAVAIC21), which has been described as one of the best virtual conferences since the pandemic, and one of the few academic meetings focused on indigenous African signed and spoken languages in our time. The conference, which was well attended by men and women of letters on the international front will soon yield its debut publication, Studies in Indigenous African Signed and Spoken Languages (SIASSL).
Our Indigenous Nigerian Sign Language Documentation Project (INSLDP) continued virtually with the Naija SignApp group that was formed in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic and several lexical signs were collected by the group. As that was going on, our target linguistic community was expanded to Zambia, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed to seal the newly formed relationship with the Zambian Deaf Society (ZDS) for the documentation of indigenous Zambian sign languages. Thanks to the great leadership of our own Nakasela Nachalwe, for leading the epoch project in collaboration with Mr. John Ndhlovu.

The crux of our indigenous sign language documentation project came with the introduction of project My Hero is You – a project that translated into indigenous Nigerian signed languages, an international literacy book about Covid-19 for children around the world. The book “My Hero is You” has been translated into several spoken languages and a few mainstream signed languages, ours is the first translation into indigenous signed language(s). While we still tout the success of that translation/documentation, we can’t wait to see it emerge as one of the contents of the Indigenous Hands SignApp, which is currently being developed, thanks to Godwin Adejoh for leading the amazing team working on the app. Team MY Hero is You, made up of our five Deaf Signers, Maurice, Festus, Lovina, Ifeanyi and Joshua and Team S-DELI participants, Val, Olamide, Rebekah, Precious and Blessing, thank you for making that project happen!

On the advocacy front, our Faces of BBS internship program was a success despite the setback it suffered. Four deaf women who are survivors of sexual and domestic abuse were selected for the one-year internship, they were trained for 3 weeks on how to become advocates against all forms of abuse against deaf girls and women. They started their campaign through skill acquisition and capacity building outreaches in various deaf communities. While two dropped out of the project, two successfully completed their one-year internship and were issued certificates of completion and some financial awards. Today, Esther Ogunrotimi and Tornubari Ereba are proud S-DELI Ambassadors of the project Beauty Beyond Speech. All thanks to the Project Lead for BBS, Ms. Uchechi Opara (Opulence).

Time will fail me to discuss in detail the immense impacts of our monthly quiz on our Facebook group, Advocates for the Indigenous African Sign Languages, a group that has continued to add to its membership and participation on a regular basis. All thanks to S-DELI Content Developer, Ms. Olamide Fatosin who has been very efficient in anchoring the monthly quiz. Each month, someone has always gone home with some financial prizes, while on the other hand, more people get to follow our Indigenous Hands the Indigenous Voices program on YouTube.
It is equally worthy of mentioning that Nelson, our architecture student, whose education we have been sponsoring since 2016 got admission into Enugu State University in late 2020 and is not in 200 Level. It has not been easy for him nor for us to ensure that his academic and personal needs are met while he is in school, but thus far, he has made it and we are proud of him. Thanks to our international supporters, Susie Olsen, Carman Melendrez and others who have made major contributions and donations that have helped to keep Nelson in school.
Our Triple Action Project (TAP) which took place virtually on the international front and physically in Ogun state Nigeria was a huge success. Thanks to Rebekah Akinpelu for taking up the huge challenge of organizing the physical TAP in her community. Thanks also to all of you who contributed videos to the virtual TAP. A million thanks to our Sign Language Interpreting department ably led by Ms. Blessing Ini for providing interpreting services for that program and for all our programs for the year.

I will not fail to thank the administrative team, our Co-Founder and Assistant Head of Project Global, Mrs. Ezinne Emma-Asonye, our Head of Project National and Executive Assistant to the President, Onyinyechi Nwandikom, our Financial Manager, Mrs. Adaochinke Tiku, our IT Director, Uche Ibeh, our Organizing Secretary, Sinmi Labisi, thank you! Our Board of Directors, all the Departmental Heads and Executive Assistants, thank you! Finally, our local and international donors and collaborators, we appreciate you. Dr. Mary Edward Agronah, you’ve been such a powerful force behind many great things we’ve achieved. It wasn’t a bad year for us because of your commitments to this vision. May God bless you in return.

Below is a summary of our major projects for 2022 and their possible timeline:

  • First Period – January – April
    (i) Lunching of Indigenous Hands App
    (ii) Potential partnership with ESUT and AVID
    (iii) Registration of Indigenous Hands in the US
    (iv) First documentation of indigenous ZSL
  • Second Period – May – August
    (i) Intensive media campaigns for Indigenous Hands App
    (ii) Introduction of Indigenous Hands to Deaf schools in Nigeria
    (iii) Second release/update of Indigenous Hands App
    (iv) My CoLang Presentation with some team members
  • Third Period – September – December
    (i) Triple Action Project
    (ii) International Volunteer Day
    (iii) Third release/update of Indigenous Hands App