Filed in General by on February 9, 2010

Reviving Igbo language: A task for Ndigbo (2)
Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I was motivated to complete the second part of this write up by the number of calls of commendations and text massages I received from well-meaning Igbo sons and daughters within and outside Nigeria . The first part of this piece was published on December 31, 2009 by Daily Sun. It was like a New Year gift to the Igbo in general. All the massages and calls conveyed the same volume of weight and meaning.

Thanks to all for your understanding. Ekele diri Chineke. As I said, the task is for all, it is not for a particular person or body of persons. Reviving Igbo language starts with you and your family. Parents should endeavour to speak Igbo language to their children fluently no matter where they find themselves. They should let their children understand the names of their towns, local government and states respectively.

They should tell them stories about Ndigbo. I said this because, one of the text messages I received was so pathetic. It reads: “Thanks for your article on “Reviving Igbo language” it’s very important. Our language is speedily going into extinction, especially among Igbo youth born and residing outside the shores of Igbo land. I was shattered when I discovered that a corper, 26 years of age born and bread in Lagos, currently serving with me at Ogun State who said she is Igbo is deaf and dump as regards to the language and has neither visited nor can trace the kindred where his father comes from” …Anonymous.

Is it not embarrassing for somebody to find himself in this pathetic situation? The Igbo community associations in diaspora should also entrench in their constitutions that Igbo language must be the official language for conducting the business of the association during meeting hours even if the meeting is holding in America, London or any where in the world. Any member who violates the rule should be penalized accordingly. Secondly, any member vying for any post in the associations especially the office of the chairman, vice chairman and patron must be fluent in Igbo language. Those who are meant to occupy these posts must know the rudiments of Igbo culture and tradition.

Other areas I would like us to revive are: music and film industry, religious (ministry work) and technology. Igbo is an ethnic group that like going extra miles in anything she wants to do. Apart from the local films produced by the Yoruba, the Igbo brought light to film industry in Nigeria . The first prominent film produced in Nigeria was produced in Igbo language “Living in Bondage” between1993/94. Before then, Solomon Eze popularly known as Mike Orifedinma used to produce films in Igbo language. His films gave birth to what we have today as Nigerian home movies. Other films like “Circle of doom” “Evil Passion” and others sprang up.

All where produced in Igbo language? Today, the subsequent films are produced in English. Is Igbo language not good again for the film industry? The greater percentage of Nigerian Nollywood stars are Igbos. Needless of mentioning their names, we all know them. The Yoruba/ Hausa people who started in a low pace in the industry still maintain their languages. It is only the Igbo that have stopped films in their God gifted language. WHY? This is one of the reasons our children have diverted to watching films acted in other languages. My people lets remember the root. Our children deserve to know their root by giving them music and films acted in Igbo than other languages.

In music industry, Chief Osita Osadebe, Ozoemena Nsugbe, Mike Ejeagha, Bright Chimezie, Goddy Ezike, Oliver De Coque and Perikoma Okoye (arusi Izuogu) have made their marks in preaching the gospel of Igbo language/ culture but nobody listened. In his contribution, Oliver has an album called “Onye asusina engirigbo”. He preached extensively against the abuse of Igbo language. In that album, he sited examples of the abuse of the language. For example who are you Okereke I bu onye? Onye choro ilu ogu ya pou outside and many others.

Very many of us took the music as one of the antics of musicians but it conveyed meaning and massage to all. Bright Chimezie, in his first album had declared war on foreign culture. Mike Ejeagha who is popular for using Igbo proverbs and folk tale in his entire music career tried to let the Igbo know that their culture is good and must be upheld at all cost. No musician in Igbo land has copied his musical style rather, what we do today is to copy makosa and other uncultured foreign music styles. In all his writings, Chinua Achebe maintained Igbo stand in his books both on setting and the use of Igbo language and proverbs especially in “Things fall Apart” and “Arrow of God”.

Their generation gave meaning to what we call today the Igbo nation. Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the father of Igbo nation has contributed his quota to make Igbo a relevant tribe in Nigeria and the world. They have done creditably well to represent the wishes of our ancestors. All of them deserve to be honoured with additional feathers on their crowns.

In the Church, our pastors should endeavour to conduct the church activities (preach the gospel) with Igbo language where the congregations are made up of the Igbo. This day, it is very difficult to see a pastor of Igbo origin who speaks the language fluently. Some pastors speak English even when the congregation’s made up of elderly people that do not understand English, I have worshiped in churches where Yoruba/Efik/Ibibio were used to conduct the service from the first point of prayer to the last. I felt ashamed of myself that I could not get such quality church service in my language (Igbo).

In Technology, the Igbo had invented so many things in Nigeria without the help of anybody or body of persons. During the period of Nigeria and Biafra war, they manufactured so many things like rocket, ogbu nigwe, foot wears and other products that assisted them to keep the enemies at bay. The Igbo refined crude oil and salt to a finished product. Today, Nigerian refineries are dead. The government could not do the magic the Biafrans did during the war. Why do we have to abandon the technological inventions that God bestowed on us? Onyiye Chineke o bu ihe ariri diri Ndigbo? Is it not high time we re-invent these technologies? We must not wait for the central government to motivate or wake us to this call.

This is a challenge that we must take serious, if this generation must have something to be remembered for. In 1970s/80s and 90s “ Aba made products” such as shoes, bags, ties and cloths used to be the order of the day. Today China and Dubai have taken over our markets. Some of their products are sub-standard compared to what Aba can produce. The value of a man is not measured by his size but his courage. Courage lies in the heart of a great man. David defeated Goliath because he had courage. God did not make a mistake when he blessed us with technological inventions.


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Comments (7)

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  1. Stanley uche says:

    I love this article i will get back to u.

  2. Enek says:

    Nwa nnem, ji si ike n’ezi oru i na ru.

  3. Ajah cyprian says:

    I am the writer of this article “Reviving Igbo lannguage” the third part of the work will be published soon. For other works concerning Ndigbo, pls contact me with the following number +234 8066431537. Ka chineke mezie okwu.

  4. Chinedu okolo says:

    i am happy that a least some people are taking notice of what is going on. You said in your article that everything starts from the family… but I am afraid
    that solution may not be realistic.
    I have seen to many igbo parents speak in english to their children at an age when they should be learning their mother tongue. Alas!! what can you do you cant just walk up to them and tell them to speak in igbo to their children.
    As for me i grew up speaking english although i understand igbo a little.. I try to speak it when I can. The only thing I feel should happen is to create awareness. Such a big awareness that that is what would be on every igbos lips.
    You made mention of the film and music industry.. You forget oneI thing everybody wants to make quick money.So producing a film in Igbo may only sell well among the Igbos(i.e to them) but they forget that a good film no matter the language so far as it has english subtitle will sell anywhere in the world not to even talk of Nigeria. The music industry has the same problem.Some musicians try mixing igbo and english lyrics. That is good but why not a whole song in igbo?(they want to sell). When styl-plus released “olufunmi” everybody(igbo,hausa,ibibio,efik) sang and danced even without understanding the lyrics because it was a good song.
    As for the church… i don’t know what to say. You hear some priests speak igbo and back it up with a little english… the choir themselves don’t help matters.
    Another mayor problem will be the media. THe number of igbo programmes aired on both the radio and television stations is abominable expecially media houses that focuses on a particular state not Nigeria as a whole..Its unfortunate.. We are even talking about Igbo language going into extinction what about the other 250 or so languages aren’t they going into extinction too? I get annoyed when a man campaigning for governor( in Anambra state) would be campaigning in english ARE THE ELECTORATE BRITISH PEOPLE?!!!!!
    So my broyher if it is possible to get the attention all the governors of the southeast in fact the federal government that would be wonderful.And my brother, when I say awareness I mean a BIG AWARENESS CAMPAIGN.Even with that awareness Nigeria as a country is suffering to many setbacks that it might be impossible for anyone to listen. All the same I pray that you succeed you must succeed otherwise we will lose our dear language, identity and pride forever..

  5. Nwaoha Francis Chukwudi says:

    What I have found out, is that igbo language is most likely going to disappear from the language map. The igbos on individual level are not taking the issue of sustaining the existence of the language seriously. They see it as a language for the illitrates. I am a broadcaster in the Igbo Service Voice of Nigeria. What I have discovered in the course of doing my work is that an average igbo considers you inferior when you interview them in igbo. In a big occasion Some would be so arrogant that they would treat you as an inferior person that should not come close to them for any reason.My Housa and Yoruba colleagues don’t receive such treatment from their own people when they go out on assighnment.

  6. Ajah Cyprian says:

    I am commited to reviving Igbo language. I don’t care what it will cost me or how long it will take me. All i need is a support from well spirited igbo people to join me in the campaing to revive and sustain our God gifted language. Esther instructed the Isrealite to make use of heir language in the Bible. Watch out for the part 3 of the article, GOOD BLESS IGBO NATION.

  7. sammy says:

    Ndi igbo biko nu ka anyi ji otu obi nweta ma ruo ebi ala oma ahu. igwe bu ike!

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