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Stakeholders intensify call for aggressive Igbo language promotion

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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 director, Anambra state library board, Dr. Nkechi Udeze, noted that promotion of Igbo language required concerted effort from parents and teachers in supporting their children to speak, read and write the language.

Udeze, who largely blamed 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 thought that knowing or writing the language would 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 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 responsibilities in ensuring that their pupils and wards speak Igbo language; even as she encouraged Igbo parents in diaspora to use Igbo language in training their children.

Nwokoye further charged media houses, religious leaders, women groups and others to promote Igbo language, warning that if nothing was done, the UNESCOS’s prediction that Igbo language would go into extinction by 2050 would 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 Igbo were trading their language and cultures for some western civilisation.

“It is painful that most of our children don’t understand 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  promote Igbo language at their homes.

Expressing optimism that Igbo language would gain prominence, the retired university teacher stressed that parents should encourage their children to apply for Igbo language as their course of study in universities.

Dr. Paul Ifeanyi, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Willie Obiano on Secondary Education, also enjoined schools to cue into the call for the promotion of Igbo language at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels.

Earlier, HRM Igwe M. C. Ngene, traditional ruler of Nibo, in Awka South local government area of Anambra state, said Igbo language promotion must start from home. He, therefore, enjoined parents and teachers to use Igbo as language of communication at home and at the basic school levels. 

Some of the schools that participated in event are: Igwebuike Grammar School, Awka; Potters College, Awka; Holy Ghost Academy, Awka; Girls Secondary School, Awka; Community Secondary School, Okpuno, and Adorable British Spring, Awka. 

Highpoint of the exercise was spelling bee, sentence construction, reading and writing Igbo competition, where Ridge Valley Academy, Holy Ghost Academy and Adorable British Spring took 1st, 2nd and 3rd positions at the primary school category; while Community Secondary School, Okpuno; Igwebuike Grammar School, Awka and Girls Secondary School, Awka took the 1st, 2nd and 3rd positions respectively at the secondary category.

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