By Magnus Eze
An Abuja based Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Centre for Igbo Arts and Culture (CIAC) is working relentlessly to ensure that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) prediction listing Igbo as one of the indigenous languages that may go into extinction in 50 years does not come to fruition.
To this end, the group last week announced result of the fourth edition of its annual Igbo Language Competition organized for Junior Secondary School students in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and presented prizes to winners.
Prior to that day, the competition comprising essay writing, debate and quiz, all in Igbo, was held on October 21, at Government Junior Secondary School, Jabi.
Speaking at the prize giving ceremony held at the Education Resource Centre (ERC), Wuse Zone 7, Abuja, last Wednesday, Promoter/Chairman of CIAC, Dr. Kanayo Okoye charged the students to sustain effort aimed at ensuring that Igbo Language and culture did not disappear.
He said: “The idea of this exercise, as we are aware, is to rekindle and sustain interest in our language, which, obviously, is fast decaying to the extent that UNESCO has predicted that at the current rate of loss, the Igbo language shall be extinct within the next 50 years. Before us therefore is the decline of our mother tongue, and of course, a threat to our roots and the potential disappearance of our essence and identity. Further to this challenge, CIAC is determined to continue contributing its quota towards reversing this ugly trend.”
He explained that CIAC had award certificates and cash prizes for the best performing students, teachers and schools under various levels and categories.
“The awards comprise Igbo books for use at different class levels, Igbo Dictionaries, 400 Igbo proverbs on CD and scholarship grants. We pray and believe that this effort on our part, especially when we work together, will contribute towards the promotion and preservation of our language and identity”, Okoye enthused.
He applauded the FCT Universal Basic Education (UBEB), particularly the Director, Dr. Adamu Jatau and Mrs. Isioma Okafor as well as Mrs. Anthonia Opara and Mrs. Chika Anigbogu of ERC, for their efforts and support to the centre, including mobilizing the teachers to fully participate in the competition.
“From the depth of my heart, I urge you not to relent. Let all hands be on deck. I do believe that God, in His infinite mercy, will not let our effort towards saving our language and culture be in vain.
“To whom much is given, much is equally expected. We therefore look forward to your assistance in ensuring the success of this formidable challenge. We hope you will continue to collaborate and work with us towards saving ourselves from this threatening loss of our identity,” the cultural promoter admonished the audience.
Daily Sun learnt that 98 students/teachers from 15 schools participated in the contest which saw Miss Divine Favour Igbonekwu, a JSS 2 student of Government Secondary School, Asokoro emerge winner. About 11 other students also received scholarship.
Igbonekwu’s essay on the topic “How to promote Igbo Language and Culture,” was adjudged the best by the judges.
The young girl shone like a million stars at the occasion especially with the flawless manner she presented to the audience in Igbo, what she wrote in her essay and the motivation behind it.
She was presented with a cheque of about N150,000, covering her tuition fees for three years, a certificate and other prizes.
The highly elated girl assured she would do her best to remain an ambassador of Igbo Language and culture; promising to make the best use of the CIAC scholarship.
Director, Creative Arts, FCT UBEB; Mrs. Okafor commended the organisers and expressed the optimism that the competition would assume a bigger scale next year.
In her remarks, Mrs. Anigbogu flaunted the integrity of the process, pointing out that the examiners did not know the students since they used numbers instead of names on their scripts.
She commended Igbo Language teachers in the FCT and urged parents to always encourage their children to use mother tongue at home.
Also speaking, the Igbo 1 of Abuja, Eze Ibe Nwosu reaffirmed the determination of the Igbo traditional institution in diaspora to promote and sustain Igbo Language.
Represented by Ochi Igbo Gwagwalada Unit 2, Eze Njoku Innocent, he said they will continue to work closely with CIAC to recruit more Igbo Language teachers and pay them; to teach in FCT schools.
Every activity of the day was conducted in Igbo including rendition of the National Anthem and some lullabies.