Nigerian Pidgin English has been accepted as a foreign language for the Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars.
The chairperson of the Nigeria Official Selection Committee (NOSC), Chineze Anyaene-Abonyi, said the approval “is a new feat for the industry.”
The request for approval began in December 2019, after which Anyaene-Abonyi visited the Academy’s office in Los Angeles in February 2020 where she met with representatives of the International Feature Film Executives.
Earlier, director Kenneth Gyang claimed prolific producer Mo Abudu achieved the feat after several weeks of communicating with members of the Academy. He said Abudu had been in talks with the international features section of the Oscars on the possibility of entering ‘Oloture’, which was made in pidgin, into the competition.
“In the final leg of the conversation, she was asked for a letter of justification regarding Nigerian Pidgin as a foreign language,” Gyang wrote on Twitter. “Within a few hours of sending that letter, the International Features team responded to say that pidgin is now a foreign language and have communicated with our NOSC!”
But the Committee debunked Gyang’s claims, with Anyaene-Abonyi stating that “it is untrue if any other individual or entity claims such achievement as this is beyond mere writing to the Academy without knowing the approval intricacies.”
In 2019, Genevieve Nnaji’s directorial debut ‘Lionheart’ was submitted as Nigeria’s first ever film to represent the country at the 2020 Oscars.
However, the movie, which is mostly in English but with a short section in Igbo, was disqualified and said to have violated a rule that entries in the category must have a “predominantly non-English dialogue track.”
The committee is considering re-opening the portal for submission to the Academy, which was on October 2, to allow over five other filmmakers with Pidgin English films to submit their films.