Editor asks parents to make Igbo language compulsory at home
By Gilbert Ekezie
It was a moment of honor and excitement at the first edition of Emume Iri ji Ohuru (New Yam Festival) and awards ceremony hosted by Bond FM, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Lagos.
At the landmark event attended by Who’s Who across the board, the editor of Ekwe kuo Ama agbaa, an Igbo language newspaper and real estate consultant Ms. Nneka Chimezie, expressed her commitment and determination. to ensure that the Igbo language and culture does not die out, as being speculated by many.
As a continuation of efforts to promote Igbo interest, she revealed her intention to establish Igbo language schools in every nook and cranny of Nigeria.
This, she said, would go a long way in reviving the dying culture of the Igbo race. Chimezie, who received an award at the event in recognition of her enormous contributions to the uplifting and maintenance of the Igbo language, culture and tradition, said all she does is s ‘ensure that the Igbo language and culture do not go into extinction.
“Before the end of 2022, we will create Igbo language schools, which will serve as a benchmark to overcome the language problem, just like our children go to school to learn English on a daily basis. If we can teach them our language and bring our culture and traditions as subjects, it will go a long way in saving our children’s future, she advised, instructing Igbo parents to make the use of the language compulsory. Igbo language in their various homes in order to encourage their children and pupils to learn the language that has been around for a long time.
“We are running a campaign to encourage parents to make Igbo compulsory as the only language spoken at home. If that means making a law that if someone speaks English, the person will pay a fine, as the case may be in my house. Also, in my office, if an Igbo person speaks a language other than Igbo, the person will pay a fine. In fact, it forced my children and those around me to consciously devote their energy to speaking the Igbo language. So, we ask every Igbo parent to know the danger of our children not speaking the language. Unfortunately, some of them will tell you that their children can hear but cannot speak which is as good as not speaking because their children cannot even hear. The danger is that if our children do not speak our language, they cannot pass it on to their own children. Remember that language is something that you transfer from generation to generation, so if our generation can only transfer hearing and not speech, it will eventually disappear at some point. This means that the next generation will not speak our language. Most importantly, I was pushed to support the Igbo language and culture due to the UNESCO prediction that the Igbo language will die by 2025. an Igbo person whose identity is his language, I myself I felt challenged because without his tongue, he is a lost human being. The only thing that sets you up and shows your identity is your language. And, once you miss this language, you are no longer a person. For example, many of our African-American relations are trying to find their roots today, but cannot, because their ancestors lost their languages. So, I am not worthy of being considered a responsible person if I sit and watch Igbo, a language spoken by over 6 million people that is going to disappear. “
She also stated that she was using her resources to support the growth and development of the Igbo language, which is why she was invited by Bond FM for an award “I took it upon myself to do everything needed to promote the Igbo language, I put my energy and my resources, to make sure that my language is not on the verge of extinction. This is what I did and people and organizations like Bond FM saw it and found it worthy of honoring me with an award. ‘
Chimezie, who is a member of the Indigenous Language and Culture Initiative, also informed that they are celebrating Mother Tongue Day, where they run awareness programs and visit schools to check how much the Igbo language is being taught. and spoken. from our work we have discovered that 90% of the children who attend private schools are Igbos. And you would also know that the Lagos State government has banned the teaching of other languages in Lagos State other than the Yoruba language. We are campaigning against this statement and telling them it is unacceptable.
‘When you hear that some people are gone, not that people have gone extinct so to speak, it’s the language, once you no longer have the people who speak their language, automatically they will disappear from the surface of the earth, because it is your language that places you in a particular place, identifies you and defines you. So we cannot stand idly by. These are some of the accomplishments we have made to ensure that we maintain the Igbo language. ‘
Other efforts it has made to promote the Igbo language are the establishment of the Igbo language newspaper Ekwe kuo Amagbaa. “We have an Igbo newspaper, Ekwe kuo, Amagbaa, a newspaper that we write in the Igbo language. I can assure you that since I started this journal I have not sold it. In fact, it’s this very edition that we want to start selling, and we don’t care how many we sell. What’s important is that we keep printing and I know that over time people will embrace it.
‘Again, we have a plan, I have this organization that I belong to, the Igbo Women’s Assembly, we are not resting, we also have a plan to establish the Igbo language all over the world, from so that every five minutes of walking we are going to have a center where the Igbo language is taught daily when our children come home from school they are going to go. If you look at Muslims, they have something like that, there are schools they visit every night, that’s why you see their kids, their culture is embedded in them, that’s why because we don’t have no such thing our children have no way to learn our culture, our language and our tradition, what do we do? Because the father works, the mother works, the children go to school, come back and that’s it, sometimes you don’t blame them for not embracing the culture and the tradition, and the language and we want to right the wrong that we did, and I have to say it is our fault that our children do not embrace our language. They don’t speak the language, so we want to do whatever it takes to right the wrongs, the things that we haven’t been able to do before, we want to start doing them.
Chimezie also spoke about marriage in Igbo land and how it has been eroded by other cultures and called for the introduction of marriage counseling for Igbo children.
“Look at the question of twinning, which was a means of marriage for the Igbo. In the past, we have had strong marriages. But these days we find that our tradition is not good enough and we have started; No one can find me a wife or a husband, I have to find him myself. As a result, 80% of Igbo marriages are shaking today, due to the carefree attitude of wanting to know the root of who we want to marry. So we want to educate and counsel the youngest, avoid marital mistakes, and keep Igbo marriages enviable and remarkable. ‘
She called on the management of Bond FM to continue to spread and encourage the Igbo culture to be brought to light through the new Yam Festival and other Igbo related programs.
A media professional from Voice of Nigeria, Lagos office, Ms. Chibuzor Nwanedo, described the Chimezie award as well deserved, pointing out that she is stubborn, loves all things Igbo language and does not take no for a reply. “Ms. Chimezie is the founder and president of the Igbo Women’s Assembly which teaches women the importance of speaking and promoting the Igbo language in our various homes. For the reason that the Igbo language is said to be on the verge of extinction, we must promote and maintain it. ‘
The anchor and presenter of “Ikemba” in Bond FM, Elder Kelechi Ulutorti aka MC Oxygen, said the theme of the event was “Upholding Igbo Culture and Tradition Even in the Diaspora”.
According to him, Iwaji was supposed to be celebrated in Igbo land, but because many Igbo could not return home at that time.
“The truth remains that an Igbo man is meant to be an Igbo man no matter where he is. So we decided to hold this Iwaji festival and at the same time to appreciate and honor some prominent Igbo who have helped our people. The only reason is to defend our culture and our tradition here in Lagos.
“The winners were chosen for what they have done in the society they live in, here in Lagos and in their cities, he or she must have touched lives,” he said.