Udoka! Popular Igbo Language Newspaper in Nigeria

Nigeria’s press history reflects a robust and competitive environment where indigenous or local language newspapers had little chance of survival. Though the first Nigerian newspaper was a local language newspaper, Iwe Irohin, the media landscape at the beginning was dominated by English language newspapers published by nationalists for championing self rule and independence. Yet a number of indigenous language newspapers share in the credit of developing a vibrant newspaper industry in the country. The first Nigerian newspaper was a Yoruba language newspaper, Iwe Irohin, which was also the first indigenous language newspaper in Africa. It was established in 1859. Fiercely competitive business environment of the newspaper industry in Nigeria and the growing interest of publishers to establish English language newspapers contributed in stifling numerous local language publications that came up after Iwe Irohin. Despite the toughness of survival for indigenous language newspapers, a number of them played crucial roles in making the print media industry in Nigeria colourful and vibrant.

While Yoruba and Hausa language newspapers existence in large numbers in Nigeria’s media landscape, only a few Igbo language newspapers showed up in the news stands. Most of them could be described as pretenders because either they were short-lived or they existed as pullout inserts in English language newspapers. The lack of interest in publishing Igbo language newspapers could be attributed to the following factors: lack of interest by Igbo speaking Nigerians in reading Igbo language literature; difficulty in reading and writing Igbo language by many Igbo speaking Nigerians; difficulty in finding journalists who can report in Igbo language; and other general factors that affect newspapers such as lack of adverts, publication cost, among others. However, a few Igbo language newspapers existed in Nigeria’s media landscape. Among them is Udoka, a popular Igbo language newspaper that stormed Nigeria’s media landscape with professional content.

Udoka is the second most successful Igbo language newspaper in Nigeria’s press history. One major reason was that the newspaper was already associated with success even before it came into existence, by virtue of the fact that it was published by Concord Group of newspapers, one of the leading media organizations in Nigeria at a point in the nation’s history. Concord group, publishers of Concord newspapers, was owned by renowned billionaire business man and politician, Chief M.K.O. Abiola. Udoka was one of Chief Abiola’s campaign tools to penetrate the South Eastern part of the country, just as he also had Amana, a Hausa language newspaper, published by his media organization and also thriving in the Northern part of the country and among Hausa speaking readers across the nation. Udoka thrived in the 1980s and was next to Ogene in terms of popularity and huge audience base.

The Author

Chinenye Nwabueze

Nwabueze is a communication researcher with several years of lecturing experience in Nigerian universities.

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