But in the recent time, a new vision, mission and plan to resuscitate interest, a reawakening and sensitization of the people on the need to preserve the enviable language came up.
In a mission to sustain the dying Igbo language and culture , an Igbo Language Newspaper, the ‘Ekwe Kuo Ama Agbaa’, edited by Mazi John Chukwu, with the support of Indigenous Language and Culture Initiative, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos State Chapter and Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), used the hosting of International Mother Tongue Day held recently at Ohanaeze Ndigbo Secretariat, Robertson Street, Surulere Lagos to unfold plans on how to revive the enviable language.
The woman leader further disclosed that efforts are being made by her group to advocate for the inclusion of Igbo and Hausa languages in the school curriculum in Lagos State, in order to give pupils and students the opportunity to learn other languages, aside Yoruba. “Nigeria has over 200 languages, but in order to make communication easy, we chose the English, the language of our colonial masters as our lingua franca. But in our bid to retain our mother tongue, the Nigerian state approved the learning of the major three languages; Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba to be taught in schools. This was done so that children will have the opportunity to learn, not just how to speak , but also be able to write in their language. But unfortunately, the Lagos State House of Assembly passed a bill recently that only the Yoruba language will be thought in public schools. For me, that is uncalled for because there are so many ethnic nationalities in the state who need to be carried along. So, I am of the view that the legislation should be revisited. Lagos is not like any state in Nigeria, but once the capital of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that hosts over twenty million people from all works of life, among whom are Igbo and Hausa. So, it will not be good to deny the children the right to learn how to read and write in their languages. I see it as a modern day colonization, and appeal to the Lagos State government and the Lawmakers to revisit that bill, to enhance more cordial relationship between the government and non indigenous communities in Lagos State, to give them a sense of belonging.”
“We need to build up activities and programmes that will encourage speaking and writing of Igbo Language, to give young people the opportunity to study the art in tertiary institutions. In this light, we need to create jobs and opportunities that will encourage this programmes, so that they can see the need to embark on the study of the language.”
She disclosed that Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), Indigenous Language and Culture Initiative and Ekwe Kuo Ama Agbaa, Igbo Newspaper, have put measures in place for anyone who wants to study Igbo language in tertiary institutions to be fully funded through scholarship.
She was of the opinion that Igbo should reach out to various communities, create more friends, understand themselves and their problems, so as to grow together in business, relationship, family wise, mentally, physically and spiritually. “There is a better bond when we speak our Mother-tongue to one another. There’s a sense of togetherness, oneness and love that we share if we observe closely. So we have to be strong, encourage and empower one another to be more united.”
According to him, in December 2020, over 10, 000 copies of the Newspaper were printed, and we toured all the Southeastern states and two other states in the south-south. We also visited Omu of Anioma at Okpanam, Delta State and had a rapport with her in the area of promotion of culture and language; We were also able to meet with Alaigbo Development Foundation, as part of promoting Igbo ideology.”
“In most of the activities of our people, not only in Lagos, but down East, they use English language to host their meetings, so their meetings are no longer secret, because any warrior who is going to war, has set a strategy before going to the war, so if you are speaking English language, and you want to fight an English man, where is your strategy, you have already told them your secret. Where are the tricks to win the war? You will fail. So we need our language.”