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Umunri Colloquium: Ndigbo Charged to adopt Community based approach to Promote Igbo Language

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By Jonathan Asikason

Ndigbo have been called to adopt a community-Based approach to salvage the Igbo Language from extinction.

This call was made during the 6th Umunri Colloquium held at Enugwu-Ukwu Civic Center on Monday, 28th December 2020.

The colloquium being an integral part of the Igu Aro Ritual is a forum where indigenes of the four original towns of Nri Clan, viz Enugwu-Ukwu, Enugwu-Agidi, Nawfia, and Agukwu(Nri), converged annually to discuss issues affecting the Igbo Nation.

Speaking on the theme “Community-Based Approach to Promoting and Sustaining Igbo Language,” Prof Ngozi Chuma-Udeh of African and Comparative Studies, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Igbariam, stressed that “the community is in a better position to tackle the complexities and subtleties involved in sustaining and promoting the Igbo language.”

To circumvent the 2016 warning by UNESCO that the Igbo Language could become extinct by 2025, Prof Ngozi Chuma-Ude, who was the lead speaker in the colloquium, argued on the importance of engaging local communities in dialogues and development programmes of Igbo heritage language promotion and sustenance.

“Numerous indigenous peoples worldwide have intentionally or unintentionally, killed their identity by impeding the natural order of passing on their ancestral languages to the next generation. This is because in the quest to run after modernity, they have fallen victims to some egocentric reasons like the noxious acceptance of the colonial master’s language as the official language after independence. As a result, most indigenous languages are facing a mass ‘linguicide’,” she submitted.

Beforehand, the chief host of the colloquium and paramount ruler in Umunri Clan, Igwe Ralph Obumnaeme Ekpeh, had during the breaking of the kola nut thanked God for the blessings of health and life for Nri people despite the ravaging fangs of COVID-19. He prayed for peaceful coexistence, equity, and justice in Nigeria.

Correspondingly, other discussants in the colloquium threw their weight behind the submission of Prof. Chuma-Udeh. Prince Charles Tabansi of Agukwu(Nri) noted the need to revert to the good old days when folklores and mythos are critical parts of child upbringing. Prof Ifeoma Dunu called for a law mandating the use of the Igbo language in any ceremonies in the Igboland, while Dr. Ben Okeke Emeluwa urged parents to pick the gauntlet in the fight to save the Igbo language from dying.

In a vote of thanks, the Chairman of the Umunri Colloquium Commission and Managing Director Anambra Broadcasting Service(ABS), Chief Uche Nworah thanked both the contributors and all that graced the event. He charged Igbo leaders to implement the recommendations of the colloquium.

The event had in attendance academics and students from various universities in the South-East, cultural ambassadors, politicians, and community leaders.

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