Lottana Igwe-Odunze, a Nigerian woman has invented a new writing system for Igbo language.
The writing system called Ndebe according to Igwe-Odunze is to fill the gap created by the suppression of natural growth of the Igbo language due to colonialism and missionary evangelism.
“Long after Nigeria and Ìgbò people received independence, our language never caught up with the modern world. Today, Ìgbò is a threatened, if not an endangered language because, no matter how many initiatives and meetings we attend to encourage people to speak Ìgbò, our language will never truly flourish until we write and read widely in Ìgbò,” she said.
Igwe-Odunze added that the limitations of the Latin alphabet introduced by English are a source of frustration for people, who read or write Igbo.
"The Latin alphabet makes tone marking a chore, resulting in most people omitting it in their writing, does not fully cover the range of Ìgbò sounds, has caused innumerable bad spellings of Ìgbò words, which are now ubiquitous, influences pronunciation of Ìgbò words like English, eroding fluency even in native speakers, stunts Ìgbò expression, especially Igbo literature, as there is zero incentive to write in Ìgbò over English, has inflicted countless other sins on the grammar, vocabulary, and syntax of Ìgbò and harmed the speech of too many Ìgbò speakers to count.
“Ńdébé pays homage to the old Nsibidi logographs, as well as Nwagu Aneke's proto-script, but is a unique, original, but more importantly, functional creation.
“Rather than having individual letters which are then combined to spell words like in English, Ńdébé represents all the possible sounds in Ìgbò as already combined characters for each syllable the way it sounds,” she added.