Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Polio information in Hausa

Hausa version of pamphlet on childhood immunization,
produced for distribution during Immunization Plus Day
activities, obtained from COMPASS-Kaduna, Aug. 2006.
Although almost eradicated worldwide, polio is still endemic in northern Nigeria as well as in parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Public health campaigns in northern Nigeria such as those on polio have naturally included use of the Hausa language, which is dominant as a first language and lingua franca in that region and across the border in a large part of Niger. This post offers a glimpse of some materials.

According to Elisha P. Renne, professor emerita of anthropology and Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan, polio education in Kaduna State, Nigeria included short films, calenders, pamphlets, radio spot, and billboard - all in Hausa. (The photos of two pamplets, figure descriptions of those two included as captions here, and one photo of a billboard featured in this blog post were kindly furnished by Prof. Renne). 

The text in the first two items (at right and immediately below) is in standard Hausa boko script.

The late Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Maccido, shown giving oral polio vaccine,
on the 2005 calendar, sponsored by UNICEF and the Nigerian Ministry of Health.
The text on the billboard pictured below, however, is ASCIIfied. Depending how the display was created, this might be due to technical limitations. I've produced the text as I think it was intended in boko script below the image (which was not necessary for one of the lines, omitted in my added text). The billboard concerns vaccinations for more than just polio, so in the list of 6 diseases, I've also added their English translations where available in parentheses.*
Billboard at a Zaria city roundabout, 2012 (image cropped from photo received from Elisha Renne)

Iyaye maza da mata dasu bada haɗin kai lokacin riga kafin cututtukan yara

Bada haɗin ƙai don kawar de waɗannan cututtuka
  • Tarin fuƙa (tuberculosis)
  • Shan inna (polio)
  • Mashaƙo (bronchitis)
  • Ciwon tarin ƙiƙa (pertussis, whooping cough)
  • Baƙon dauro (measles)
  • Da tsinkau-tsinkau (?)



There are various YouTube videos about polio in Hausa, including "majigi" films such as the below on polio prevention (part 1 embedded, parts 2 & 3 linked below; links to these were supplied by Prof. Renne).

Part 2 of 3 "In Kunni Yaji, Jiki Ya Tsiria"
Part 3 of 3 "In Kunni Yaji, Jiki Ya Tsiria"

None of the videos as far as I've seen have been same-language subtitled, though that would be an interesting way to combine literacy with health education.


This is a very limited look at what is probably a considerable amount of material in Hausa on polio prevention, as well as on other health issues. One question is how well such materials are reviewed for accuracy of information and consistency of terminology.

It is my hope in future posts to bring out more such public health materials in Hausa and other African languages in the spirit of 2Ds&4Rs - a framework extending from dissemination to review and re-use of health education materials proposed during the ebola epidemic
* The English names were determined with reference to the following sources:
Nicholas Awde, 1996, Hausa-English/English-Hausa Practical Dictionary, Hippocrene.
Baba Mai Bello, 2015, The Perception of HIV/AIDS among Students in Northeastern Nigeria, LIT Verlag Münster.
Elisha P. Renne, 2010, The Politics of Polio in Northern Nigeria, Indiana University Press.

NB- Prof. Renne forwarded the images and information with an email response to an inquiry I made about her book cited above. The email exchange took place in April 2015.

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