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1.0    Preamble

This research sets out to investigate, describe, and analyze the problems and influence of Enwang mother tongue on Enwang Secondary School children attempting to learn English as a foreign and target language. This chapter is concerned with introductory matters such as the preamble to the study, background to the study, statement of problem, research questions, purpose of the study, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study. In fact, it is under this introductory chapter that we are going to state the problems and situations which triggered off this research.

1.1    Background to the Study

It is under this sub-section of chapter one that we are going to explain the background of the people and children whom this study is specifically concerned, which are Ebughu people, and children in secondary school, specifically.

According to Uya (1984:21), the Enwang, one of the group that inhabit the Mbo littoral called Effiat Mbo, today live principally in the villages of Eyukut, Ejejai, Ubotuong, Ukoakpan, Ekiebongs, Eyudombo, Uba, Ibete, Ibot Ikot and Udingi. Except for Ibot Ikot and Udingi, the other villages are contiguous, and generally referred to as “Atai Enwang” (real Enwang) was estimated at about 25,000 making Enwang the largest group in the Effiat Mbo area. Initially grouped in the Effiat Clan, Enwang is now grouped with villages of Afaha Okpo, and there have been intermittent moves to have Enwang carved out as a separate clan.

There are basically two competing traditions on the origin and migrations of the Enwang to their present location (Uya, 1984:22). The first of this two traditions associates Enwang with the alleged movements of the Oron Ukpabang from “Usiak utin” (the East) to the Cameroons area. From there, along with the Ukpabang, the emigrants entered Nigeria in the Andoni region where they stayed for a while. Subsequent migration from Andoni brought the Enwang and the Oron to the present areas they occupy. This tradition thus associates Enwang with the Oron group, especially the Okpo group/clan and this explains the recent inclusion of Enwang in the Okpo clan. One informant, Chief Okwong Otioro aged 65 years claims that Enwang was the grandson of Okpo, founder of the Okpo clan in Oron. He said that his parents told him that Enwang people came to settle at Calabar after they had lived at Ibom near Arochukwu.

The second tradition links the Enwang people with the Efik of Old Calabar. Indeed, there has been the tendency to see the Enwang as one of the original Eburutu clans that dispersed from Ibom to Uruan. According to this tradition, the four Eburutu clans that arrived Uruan from Ibom were Abayen, Usuk Akpan, Enwang and Iboku. It is further claimed that the Enwang, along with Abayen and usuk-Akpa actually left Uruan before the final exit of the Iboku to Creek Town area. The Enwang are unanimous in linking their ancestory to that of the Efik. One of our informants declared:

Enwang was one of the Efik clans before the Europeans came to their area. We have always been known as Enwang. The father of the Efiks and Enwangs was Eburutu. We all settled at Igboland and Uruan before we left and settled at Calabar because of trouble and war.  (Chief Okwong Otioro from Enwang Uda)

The details of Enwang migrations from Uruan are rather full. Like the Efiks the Enwang refused to be absorbed into the Uruan society.

The Enwang left Uruan before the Efik and followed the Cross River until they reached present day, Henshaw Town in Calabar. This claim of prior settlement of the Enwang in Calabar before the arrival of the Efik was the basis of a 1916 court judgment by Justice A. F. Webber (Uya, 1984: 23-24). It is more probable, he wrote, “that as far as Calabar land is concerned, the Efik when they came from Creek Town met the Kwas and the Enwangs. The Enwangs, an Efik tribe, must have come before the other Efiks. This is traditional history as given by the Henshaws, the Enwangs and the Kwas. Eyo Okon Akak, according to Uya (1984:25), has also concluded in a recent study that “the Akpas, Abayens and Enwangs were the first setters mainly on the coast as fishermen and traders and they were all of Efik stock and family”.

Further evidence of Enwang early presence in the area is that the most powerful deity among the Enwang, Anantigha is still located at present day Efut beach. Indeed, Chief Isemin Abia insists that in the past an Enwang Chief had to be present during the installation or burial of any Obong of Efikland. Be that it may, Enwang residence in present day Calabar was not without incidence. The Enwang people were generally believed to have magical powers capable of turning them into crocodiles to kill their neighbours in the adjacent rivers. It was reasoned that this was why they would not let their young girls to fetch water from the streams. Finally, matters came to a head when the Enwang popular masquerade, Etok Udo Ekang, drove a non-initiate into the house of an Nsidung woman, knocked down a door which fell on a sleeping baby who was killed instantly. War broke out between the Nsidung and the Enwang and after an initial victory, the Enwang were deflated and forced to migrate once again.

This movement led them to cross the river to Oron where they landed at present day Esuk Oron. Feeling still threatened by possible Efik pursuers from Calabar, the Enwang left Esuk Oron towards the estuary of the Cross River where they settled at Mkpang Utong, so called according to Udo (1983:16), because from there they could listen to news and observed movements of the Efik who were still pursing them. Mkpang Utong proved inhospitable and further movement brought the Enwang along the Mbo river to Ebughu. Apparently, the ruler of Ebughu refused to give them land to settle. Rather, he directed them to the other side of the Mbo river where Uba Mbe, swamp land suitable for settlement. Once settled, the advance party sent word to others who had been left behind to join them. As the population grew, the children of Ating Anua fanned out and established new settlements which soon grew into the present day villages in Enwang.

As pointed out earlier, this tradition of origin and migration of Enwang from Ibom to Uruan to Calabar to their present Oron locality is widely accepted by all Enwang families that conforms to most known historical facts about the Enwang people. There is little doubt that the Enwang are more related in origin to the Efik than their other oron neighbours. It was not until 1926, according to Uya (1984:26), that the Enwang people, for administrative convenience, soft pedaled on their relationship with the Efik and accepted brotherly association with their Oron neighbours.

1.2    Statement of Problem

One of the problems which triggered off this research is the fact that the Enwang language is threatened of extinction and also lacks an approved orthography and written materials. It is also a problem that the Enwang language is not studied in Enwang schools, even in their primary schools. This lack of written materials made the Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages of the University of Uyo to devote this academic year to investigation, description and analysis of the different aspects of the Orthography, writing system, and grammar of the Enwang language. This researcher therefore decided to focus attention on the problems and influence of Enwang as a mother-tongue to the attempt by Enwang children in Secondary Schools to learn English language.

There was also this problem of attempting all righteousness in the process of fulfilling all requirements for the award of a degree in Linguistics. We also observed that Enwang children in secondary schools were finding difficulty in pronouncing certain sounds in words and were also making unnecessary pronunciation and grammatical errors in their attempt to master English language as a target and foreign language. Hence, we are hereby attempting to find out the peculiar problems of Enwang learners of English which might be caused by their mother tongue.

1.3    Research Questions

This work will attempt to provide answers to the following research questions:

  1. Is the mother tongue one of the major problems of Enwang learners of English?
  2. Is Enwang and English related languages, or not?
  3. Are there areas of similarities and differences between Enwang and English languages?
  4. Are there similar sounds in the sound inventories of Enwang and English?
  5. What does this area of similarity signify?
  6. Are there sounds in English that are strange to Enwang learners?
  7. What does this strange sound signify or portray?

In addition to answering the above research questions, the researcher intends to proffer solutions and suggestions to aid future researchers.

1.4    Purpose of the Study

One of the purposes of this study is to fulfill all requirements for the award of a degree in Linguistics. We also intend to attempt to investigate to see whether there is a reasonable data on the percentage of phonological similarities in types of sounds and their distribution in Enwang and the English language. We will do this by attempting to identify where there are sound correspondences which may be easy for Enwang children learning English to master and become competent. The purpose is also to present a bulk data or relevant linguistic data which highlights and illustrates these areas of similarities between Enwang and English.

This study was also undertaken as the researcher’s contribution to the development of a threatened language such as Enwang. The study will also contribute to the introduction of the teaching and learning of Enwang in schools, and will also help and ease the learning of English by Enwang students in secondary schools. This work will also enlighten and mobilize speakers of Enwang about the need to offer any sacrifice necessary to aid the introduction of the teaching and learning of Enwang in schools, and will also point out the areas for emphasizes in an attempt to help Enwang children in secondary schools to learn English easily.

Material and data from this work will help to update reading, material, curriculum, and learning drills for Enwang children attempting to learn English.

1.5    Significance of the Study

This study is significant in the sense that it will help to highlight the sounds (vowels and consonants) which are common in Enwang and English and those sounds that are in English but strange to Enwang learners of English. It is mainly in those areas of differences and strange sounds that the real learning task of Enwang learners of English lies.

It will also help in answering to the clarion call for the development of Nigerian indigenous languages or mother tongues. This study, therefore, is an input to the development and enrichment of learning material, teaching aids and the literacy base of Enwang learners of English. Feedback from this research will act as a guide to teachers of English language in secondary schools in Enwang land. It will also  increase and update available written materials on Enwang and materials for teaching English as a second and foreign language in secondary schools in Enwang land.

  • Scope and Limitation of the Study

The scope of this work is limited to the phonological level of the problems and influence of the mother tongue (Enwang) on Enwang learners of English at the secondary school level. The scope is also limited to the pronouncement domain of the learning process where phonological features of the mother tongue of Enwang filters into Enwang children pronounciation of English words.

The scope is also limited to Enwang among all the lower-cross languages. This limitation in scope is due to the following reasons:

  1. The limited time available for a more thorough and exhaustive investigation as this.
  2. The cost of attempting to take all the lower-cross languages in Akwa Ibom State, as this would have entailed traveling to all the nooks and crannies of Akwa Ibom State, and many or several more trips for contacts, and interviews.
  3. The disparity between the distinction of varieties and dialects and languages would certainly be more controversial if more languages in Akwa Ibom State were involved within the short time allocated for the research.

Finance was another area of limitation as the researcher needed more instruments and even an equipped language laboratory and several more trips for interviews of informants to elicit among reliable data for analysis. But this research was a self-sponsored one with limited finances.

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