DEATH OF THE IGBO LANGUAGE (an article by Ikechukwu on the importance of the native(Igbo) language.)
The DEATH OF IGBO LANGUAGE
After listening to the lecture given during the annual Odenigbo lecture held at Maria Assumpta Cathedral, Owerri,a lecture initiated by Most Rev A. J. V. Obinna,the catholic archbishop of Owerri Archdiocese,I couldn't help but feel ashamed for "Ndi igbo". We are at the verge of driving our language to extinction. We live in an era where it is termed ''igbotic'' to speak our language in a gathering of young adults. I begin to wonder if we are supposed to be ''yorubatic'' or ''hausatic'',or is it ''englishtic''. This is where I admire our Hausa and Yoruba brothers and sisters. It is rare to find them speaking any language other than theirs to themselves. An Ada-Igbo wrote about her NYSC experience, "when I went for my National Youth Service,there were 9 yoruba ladies and 3 Igbos. These yoruba ladies were truly what we call 'babes' but they always spoke their language to each other,not minding who was in the room. Meanwhile my two Igbo sisters and I were communicating in English. When we realized how foolish we were, we decided to start speaking our language,the Yoruba ladies noticed and they were surprised. Nowadays, You see a young Igbo mother who brings her children to the village for the xmas celebration/holiday and she is proud to tell the elders in her family that her children "cannot speak the Igbo language." To her, its a great achievement. And some mothers think that bringing up their children speaking the English language makes them smarter and to be ' Ajebo '. You see a mother visiting a brother in the village and she tells her son: ''Junior,greet uncle''. What happened to ''Nna,kele dede gi''. Is this supposed to be an evolution ? Or do we feel our language is inferior to others ?? It has even become more alarming that teachers who have Igbo Language as their teaching subject convey their mode of instruction in English.For instance,the teacher points at a picture of a dog and asks the students, ''What is this? "This is called nkita''. I often wonder why it is compulsory to make ones' papers in Mathematics and English Language before one can gain entrance into a tertiary institution. Does it mean our native language(s) is not important ? Why do they exclude our indigenous languages too? What about,making it compulsory for an Igbo student to pass Maths,Igbo and English or for a Yoruba student to pass Maths,Yoruba and English Language and etc. Isn't it funny that graduates and even Post graduates who studied Igbo language write their projects and thesis in English language. At the end of the day, they are awarded with B.A., M.A. or PH.D in Igbo language,while their work was done in English Language meanwhile French graduates at any level_ B.A., M.A. or PH.D have their projects and thesis written in the French language. For those who school abroad in countries like France, Austria, Italy, Spain,Ukraine,Russia,etc, aren't they given an extra year to learn the countries' languages and civilisation? If they can promote their language, why can't we do same?
Imagine this scenario, a discussion between two Igbos; a painter and a house owner.
Painter: Kedu the type of colour e ga – alike ka ejiri paintiere gi your new house?
House Owner : To be frank with you, e decidebeghi m, but alikeri m brown na green very much.
Painter: Biko, achoro m the best for this house. What of e usekwanu yellow n'outside na light blue n'ime?
House owner: Emeanili m ya.Odikwa good but nyekwua m sometime, ka m thinkkwue over it,wee discusskwue ya with my wife.
Is this Igbo or English or what we commonly know as Engligbo?
Even children in nursery schools are not exposed to our language. You see them learning rhymes like:Twinkle twinkle Little Star , London Bridge is falling down,falling down. What of our Nigerian bridge at Onitsha ? Why are they not taught about this instead?:
(sing with london bridge tune)
Akwammiri nke Naija,ebuka,amaka
Akwammiri nke Naija,di n'ala Igbo.
O sikwara n'Onisha,wee gawa Asaba
Wee jikota umunne,n'ala Igbo. What about teaching them, "Kpukpu mkpu ogene",Onye enekwana anya nkazu" etc
Have we observed that on DSTV,there are "African Magic Yoruba" and "African Magic Hausa" channels. Does it mean we no longer have enough Igbo movies to create a channel that is dedicated to just Igbo movies and culture? I'm sure that if and when they are produced,most Igbos wouldn't even like to watch them,they would prefer Yoruba movies like "Jenifer". Who remembers those good old days of ''living in bondage''-one of the best Nollywood movies ever to be produced and which was purely in the Igbo language. What is more annoying is how we laugh whenever another person makes a grammatical blunder in a language that is not his. I remember a story a friend told me;while in the university,she had a lecturer from Poland,who was in the habit of making little blunders in English language, they were always quick to forgive her saying ''It wasn't her fault because she was English''. What about us? Are we English men and women? Why can't we be kind in forgiving ourselves?
The mothers and fathers amongst us should endevour to teach their children the Igbo language. We also need to carry out an Igbo awareness campaign. Please, let's join hands to save our language.
I'm sincerely sorry for writing this essay in English and not IGBO because that makes me guilty as well, but its just to help pass the message across.
IGBO KWENU! IGBO KWENU!! IGBO KWEZUONU!!! Long live the IGBO PEOPLE