Nigerian translator Maazi Ogbonnaya Okoro just became the first person to write and publish a Physics textbook in the Igbo language. Titled Fiziksi and released on March 13, the book is an incredible accomplishment for him and for the African publishing industry as well!

Okoro is a passionate scholar and writer of the Igbo language since he was in primary school. Okoro shared with us in a conversation that he had read about the threats facing the Igbo language and its potential extinction mentioned by the UNESCO and other language scholars. This motivated him to embark on the project to make science subjects teachable in Igbo.

Okoro was also inspired by the fact that African students are lagging behind when it comes to technological advancements compared to students from other nations such as China where English language is not the official and compulsory language, but Indigenous languages. He notes:

As a linguist, I believe that when one is taught using one’s native language, one thinks deeply, comprehend things and become more productive than when learning in foreign language. You think within the prism of your cultural consciousness and become more self-aware, research your inner self and think independently.

During the process of writing Fiziksi, Okoro had to consult different textbooks and dictionary of Physics to keep up with the current research. Curriculum on physics for secondary school students was used to produce this material, along with theories of translation — localization, domestication and dynamic equivalence. This book is designed for those with formal and informal education, making it a must-have in all libraries, schools, and homes.

Okoro hopes that this textbook will allow Igbo students to understand complex Physics concepts and simplify terms they do not understand. He adds that the impact of Igbo Physics is huge as similar efforts employed in rendering scientific books into African languages could turn the continent into a future Silicon Valley:

This project is what I call African educational revolution. It is a challenge for other African languages. Many Africans think it’s impossible to have physics and other STEM courses in African languages. The impact of this Fiziksi— the Igbo book on physics has already sparked serious argument, creating awareness that it’s possible. Since this is the first textbook of physics in African language, other Africans will now understand it’s possible to have physics and other STEM courses in their languages, that would compel them to publish African science texts. They will understand the need to learn and study using the indigenous languages. This is only way Africans will stop being a consumptive continent but productive continent when it comes to science and technology.

A copy is ₦9,500 and currently only available in Nigeria. To buy the book, email [email protected].

Maazị Ogbonnaya Okoro has over 15 years experience in teaching and researching Igbo language, literature, history and culture. He is a professional tutor of first language, second language and foreign language learners of Igbo. He studied Linguistics and Igbo Language at the University of Nigeria Nsụka and subsequently studied Translation and Movie Subtitle at Newcastle University and the University of the West of Scotland, UK.

He has written over 58 books in Igbo, approved by the Ministries of Education for secondary schools in various Nigerian states as well as undergraduate, Master and PhD students of Igbo Literature in various universities and Colleges of Education across Igbo land. He was the BBC’s first Igbo translator. Currently, he is the Igbo Translations Director of Abibiman Publishers in the UK.

Congrats to Okoro!