For the Igbo Women Assembly, it is time to preserve the language and culture of the east for fear of losing their identity and going extinct.
In a meeting in Lagos to mark the International Mother Language Day observed every 21st of February, the National President of Igbo Women Assembly, Odozieaku Nneka Chimezie, expressed delight that the group has established seven schools in some parts of Lagos.
“We join the rest of the world also to celebrate our Igbo language. To celebrate this, we tell people we need to promote the language more, especially in our home,” she emphasised.
According to Chimezie, the Western world predicted that in 25 years, the Igbo language would go into extinction. “And It’s been 10 years since they gave that prediction. From all indications, it seems real.
“Most parents do speak the English language to their children, and we try to find out why these parents feel their mother tongue is not important for them to learn as well. I feel your language is more important than any other language.”
She added that from their findings, shying away from the language and culture is a misplaced priority, and some people feel inferior. “Now we are trying to tell them that there’s nothing wrong in teaching your child both languages,” says the president.
With this year’s theme Multilingual Education – A Necessity To Transform Education, “We also have registered the Igbo Language and Culture School, where we teach our children Igbo language and culture.”
As a sequel to this, the Igbo Women Assembly plans to open an additional three schools to make them 10 on ground. “Students only pay stipends like N1,000 to maintain the teachers. This is our way of encouraging people to learn the language and culture.”
One of the indigenous at the meeting and lecturer of the Igbo language at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Maazi Chigozie Bright Nnabuihe, spoke on the relevance of preserving the Igbo culture.
“It is necessary for identity preservation. The foremost culture anyone has is language. Foreigners say that one understands oneself best in his language.
“Whatever you teach a child in his language, he will understand it better. One also expresses himself best in his language. It helps a child to be well nurtured, so when he grows, he doesn’t deviate from the norm,” Nnabuihe added.
Just like the lecturer, another indigene, Mr. Ezenwaka Joh Paul, is utterly delighted about the resolve of the women’s group.
“It is a very wonderful idea. For those of us who would always strive to ensure the Igbo language does not go into extinction, it’s awe-inspiring!” he expressed.
To further get the message across to other indigenous in the country, John Paul lent his voice. “Charity, they say, begins at home,” he reminded them.
“Every Igbo person should try and make sure to implement the use of the Igbo language. Let’s go back to the basics. Speak the Igbo language more often, especially at home, so it does not become extinct.”