Translators Associations Africa: NITI

From association to institute

Translators Associations Africa: NITIThe institution nowadays known as The Nigerian Institute of Translators and Interpreters (NITI) is actually “an offshoot” of the Nigerian Association of Translators and Interpreters (NATI).

NATI, the mother institution, was founded in 1978, on campus at the University of Lagos. At the time, the oil euphoria made Nigeria a country overcrowded with foreigners whose blue eyes shone with the sight of the “Oildorado”. A group of young professionals, “budding professionals and linguistically inclined academics” got together in Lagos to define the future of this translators association.

Some of these people were members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who had been educated at some of the best higher education institutions across the globe. Some had been to Cairo, to improve their Arabic, others went to China for Mandarin, some went to the now-called University of Westminster, in London, for European languages. Most of all, enthusiasm reigned with the opportunities for translation and interpreting professionals.

According to the people in charge of NITI, many of the first members of NATI were employed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, they were relegated to “mere routine protocol assignments”. The importance of these matters being unquestionable, “it is hardly the best”, particularly when trained translators and interpreters are confined to it. Those people were “more than mere bilinguals, no matter the languages they work in”.

In the end, many of these “trained personnel opted out of the profession and sought seemingly greener pastures in mainstream diplomatic career”. Some of them reached important places as diplomats and politicians, but professional translation and interpretation were never significant in their career profiles. Others, like Prince Eviano Achakobe, decided to go on. He “laid the foundation for professional excellence in translation and interpreting as valid, respectable careers not only in Nigeria but also in the West African sub-region”.

In 1996, NATI decided to change its name to The Nigerian Institute of Translators and Interpreters, NITI.

Many people have asked if NITI is an educational institution. The people in charge find it pertinent to clarify that “NITI is not a training school, but a professional association, the accreditation body, the regulator and protector of the translation and interpretation profession in Nigeria”. They don’t deny the possibility of establishing a school of translation and interpretation in the future. For now, it’s “a body of qualified professional linguists”.

Nowadays, thanks to this translation association, Nigerian translators and interpreters, “especially those in the media, constantly expand the areas of possibility of our languages in the news translation on radio and television. It is thanks to them that government communicates with the grassroots. In the course of their work, our translators and interpreters contribute to national integration and national development.”

In 2010, examinations were established for those wishing to join NITI. Periodically, there will be news of dates for exams to admit new members. They are also extending their career guidance “by visiting institutions of higher learning to give career guidance talks”.

In 2011, NITI held its 9th Congress and Workshop.

Keep in mind that the estimated (and catalogued) number of languages in Nigeria reaches the impressive number of 521. However, the official language is English, though it remains as an exclusive preserve of the country’s urban elite. The major languages spoken in Nigeria are Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, Fulfulde, Kanuri and Ibibio.

When you fill-in your profile details to become a Lexis member, always choose your mother tongue as your working language. Lexis – Connections with meaning

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