In Conversation with Anthony Otaigbe, founder of Izesan!

Izesan! Is the new language learning app bringing African languages and cultures to the homes of people around the world.

Its founder, Anthony Otaigbe, developed the app with the dream of making sure that the unique linguistic singularity of Africa could be portrayed on a global scale. The American-born Nigerian started his career as a Certified Public Accountant, but after a stint working in government, as well as in the private arena, Otaigbe opted to follow his pursuit of starting a technology-based business, and advancing African cultural preservation.

As a result, Otaigbe founded the Otaigbe Group in 2017, using his financial background as a starting block for allowing his dream to come into fruition. Consequently, he started creating the Izesan! app in 2019, as a foundation for the diaspora of the Esan people of Nigeria. Moreover, by 2020 the app incorporated the Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa languages. Today, the platform offers over 300 courses in 13 African languages.

We chatted to the well-known entrepreneur to catch up on his most recent endeavors.

Why do you think African languages have been relegated to the background of language learning?

“I think that in the name of “civilization,” many African languages have fallen to the wayside in favor of Western languages. Now, part of this is understandable as these languages, especially English, paved the way for international relations, however, in this quest for global connection, the distinctiveness of African languages has been largely lost around the globe.”

“I aim to bridge that gap by ensuring that African languages are accessible to those who are interested, no matter where they are situated. More than that, I want people to be able to experience African cultures, rather than merely the language itself.”

How did you come to recognize the need for Izesan!?

“Linguistically speaking, African languages are some of the most diverse around the globe. Yet, they are quite rarely studied by those outside of the continent. To counteract this lack of conscientiousness of the value of African languages, the Izesan! app was created to offer a unique and long-lasting solution to this social oversight by highlighting and propagating the rebirth of Africa’s rich culture through technology.”

“I knew that if people were only able to see what Africa has to offer that they would be interested in learning more. Izesan! was born of that knowledge, and that hope.”

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Copyright: Izesan!

Learning needs to be fun if it’s to be sustained. How did you accomplish that?

“The app is constantly being updated to include a curriculum that does not just teach users the language, but immerses them with culture and teaches them the lifestyle and uniqueness of the African continent. It also engages its learners by testing their language skills and providing real-world African communication skills using short, illustrated lessons, online tutors,and lyric music videos, as they acquire a new language skill set.”

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What are your hopes for the future?

“I’d like to see the app grow in popularity as more and more people become acquainted with African languages and find their interest piqued. There is such beauty in them that I hope the Western world can finally access it through the use of Izesan!”

“We have also recently launched a multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) which will familiarize players with the pronunciations and accents of numerous African languages. This is another revolutionary way that the world will be able to immerse themselves in African cultures and become acquainted not only with one African language, but with many.”

Due to other recent media interviews, Mr. Anthony Ogtaibe limited his comments but promised that anyone who follows the Izesan brand online will soon find plenty of interesting news, focusing both on the technology perspective and social elements of the brand. Ogtaibe is also expected to soon announce news about the growth of their movement.

Final take

As we have seen by now: the media is full of talk about the latest developments from Izesan. This makes it all seem super easy, yet it is true that while establishing the startup, one of the biggest challenges was creating a beneficial environment for new African language learners. It is noted that Izesan focused on finding singular channels that learners can identify with and enjoy while learning.

As a consequence, Izesan! came to life as a platform that proffers much more than boring lessons. The app provides lessons that include online tutors, music videos and an audiobook session with traditional stories and folklore. They can also enjoy using these even more with the upcoming app, Uwa, by joining audio chats with users worldwide.

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