Experts harp on Igbo language promotion
By Gabriel Chy Alonta
Preservation of Igbo language in Nigeria and beyond to sustain Igbo cultures and heritage was the crux of discussions during a one-day promotion campaign organised by the Anambra State Library Board.
The event, themed (Asusu Igbo Ga-adigide) and literally translated as “Preserving Igbo Language Through Reading, Writing and Speaking”, took place at the Prof. Kenneth Dike E-Library, Awka on Wednesday, Orient Daily reports.
Speaking during the event, the Driector, Anambra State Library Board, Dr. Nkechi Udeze, noted that promotion of Igbo language requires concerted effort from parents, teachers in supporting their children to speak, read and write the language.
Udeze, who largely blame parents for paying inadequate attention to their children, seized the opportunity to urge parents and teachers alike to use Igbo language while communicating with their wards at home.
“I am not happy that most parents are speaking English language to their children instead of using Igbo. May be they think that knowing or writing the language will prevent them from achieving their goals in life but it is not true. Let every parent of Igbo extraction begin to use Igbo to communicate with their children”, the director appealed.
In a lecture presentation on ways to promote Igbo language, Prof. Nkechinyere Nwokoye, from Department of Linguistics, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, noted that language was the life wire of any tribe, and urged participants, mostly students, to ensure they use the language in peer to peer conversations.
She faulted teachers and parents for not being alive to their expectations in ensuring that their pupils and students speak Igbo language, even as she also encouraged Igbo parents in diaspora to use Igbo language in training their wards.
Nwokoye further charged media houses, religious leaders, women leaders and other groups to promote Igbo language, warning that if nothing is done, the UNESCOS’s prediction that Igbo language would go into extinction by 2050 will come to fruition.
Also speaking, the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Anambra state chapter, Chief Damian Okeke-Ogene, urged the state government to improve the salary of Igbo teachers to realise the goal of promoting Igbo language across schools. He also opined that Igbo teachers should be given refresher courses and be sponsored to workshops, regretting that Igbos were trading their language and cultures for some western civilisation.
“It is painful that most of our children don’t know the Igbo language. I want the government to help in promoting our Igbo language. First, we can start from speaking the language, then, we can advance to writing and using Igbo proverbs in communication”, he said.
In a remark, Prof. Pita Ejiofor, the chairman of the occasion and founder of ‘Otu Subakwa Igbo’, encouraged participants to begin using Igbo language in homes, literary article and public events.
Expressing optimism that Igbo language is gradually gaining momentum, the retired university don stressed that parents should encourage their children to apply for Igbo language in tertiary institutions.
Dr. Paul Ifeanyi, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Willie Obiano on Secondary Education, enjoined schools to cue into the call for promotion of Igbo language in their schools.
Earlier, HRM M. C. Ngene, traditional ruler of Nibo in Awka South local government area of Anambra state, said Igbo language promotion must start from the cradle. He, therefore, enjoined teachers to use Igbo as a language of communication to the pupils.
Ridge Valley Academy, Awka, Igwebuike Grammar School, Awka, Potters College, Awka, Holy Ghost Academy, Awka, Girls Secondary School, Awka, Community Secondary School, Okpuno and Adorable British Spring, Awka, were among the participating schools.
High point of the exercise was spelling bee, sentence construction, reading and writing Igbo competition, where Ridge Valley Academy, Holy Ghost Academy and Adorable British Spring emerge 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the primary school category.
Also Community Secondary School, Okpuno, Igwebuike Grammar School and Girls Secondary School respectivy took the 1st, 2nd and 3rd positions in the secondary category.