It was a gathering of elites, illustrious sons and daughters of Ndigbo as Izunne Social Club held its annual Oringo cultural festival to propagate Igbo culture and language in Lagos.
The event, which featured legendry singer, Onyeka Onwenu, was also used to educate the people on the importance of preserving Igbo language. President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, educated the people on Igbo culture and tradition, the Biafran/Civil War and the stance of Ndigbo on referendum being demanded by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB):
“When the youths said we must have a referendum and leave Nigeria, I told them no way because I witnessed and fought in the civil war, the carnage I saw, I don’t want to see again.”
President of the club, Mazi Ugo Mgbemene, said the event was aimed at bringing Igbo Chevron staff elites in Lagos together to propagate the Igbo cultural heritage as well as face the challenges in the country, economically and politically:
“We want to establish Igbo Training Centres because we have seen that our culture, especially, language is gradually dwindling. Not all of us who are Igbo can speak and read the language fluently. That is so sad and a problem to us Ndigbo, we need to change that narrative.
“We also want to assist some organisations in creating Igbo training centres to help children learn the language, we want to catch them young. It is going to be free and affordable. We want to use this medium to galvanize our people against next month election. We want Igbo people to vote wisely. Our votes did not count during the last election, we want it to count this time around.”
Eze Chris Ofia, Eze Ndigbo Ibeju-Lekki, said: “The whole idea is to preserve our cultural heritage. This is what we want, taking Igbo culture to the grassroots so that our children born and yet unborn will learn the Igbo culture and tradition. Ndigbo should learn from their past mistakes, look very well and know that our own is our own. Use your PVCs wisely.”
Owenu urged Ndigbo not to allow their language and culture to go extinct: “I know who I am, a proud daughter of Igbo nation from Arondizuogu. My mother trained me to read and write Igbo language. Even though I married a Yoruba, I taught my children Igbo Language. So we should ask ourselves, as Ndigbo, do we teach our children our language and culture?
“During our school days, when you speak Igbo Language, you will be fined. And so, the criteria for knowing an educated person then was speaking English language correctly. That, however, did not help us as a people.
“Because we neglected our language, now our children can’t even speak Igbo. So programmes like this helps a lot in resuscitating our dying language. Let us begin to teach our children Igbo language if we must sustain it. Any tribe that cannot write its history is gone.
“We have a beautiful culture and language, why should we let it go extinct? Show pride in who you are we are a great nation.”
The presidential candidate of Young Progressive Party (YPP), Professor Kingsley Moghalu: “This is a celebration of Igbo culture, friendship and brotherhood. We must keep Igbo language and culture, we must not let our cultural heritage and language to go extinct.”