Out of the three major languages in the country, namely Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba, studies have shown that the Igbo language is the most endangered and currently under severe threat of extinction. This is a fact that stares you on the face by mere observation of just a few families.
In many homes and schools, it is a norm for the children and even adults to not know much about their tribal heritage, and not speak one word of their mother tongue. To them their culture is queer, and their mother tongue is alien.
With this waning interest among many, there has never been a better time than now to reverse this worrisome trend. And a group, Igboekulie (meaning Igbo has risen), has braced up to change the narrative in their bid to etch the Igbo language and culture on the minds of individuals.
Hence, on Saturday, November 23, at the Owerri Girls Secondary School, in Owerri, Imo State, Igbo language, culture and tradition would be on the path of a resurgence, as hundreds of secondary school students in the state and from neighbouring states of Abia, Anambra, Enugu, and even Ebonyi and Delta would be trooping in Igboekulie’s colourful annual ‘Asusu Igbo Amaka’ (Igbo is a beautiful language) program.
The ‘Asusu Igbo Amaka’ is a glitzy Igbo culture-themed event of different cultural dance groups, seminars, awards, poetry, proverbs, games, and foods. However, the major highlights of the event all year round is usually during the presentation of national and state recognition award for excellence in the Igbo language to deserving students, teachers, and schools, as adjudged by the West African Examination (WAEC). And the best three students would go home with cash prizes of N150, 000, N100, 000 and N50, 000 for the first, second and third-placed winners respectively.
Speaking on the idea behind the Asusu Igbo Amaka event, the Igboekulie’s president, Prince Ben Onuorah said the festival was conceptualized over three years to tackle the continued erosion of values and culture among Igbo sons and daughters. “ Igboekulie has for years now in conjunction with WAEC been organising Asusu Igbo Amaka awards program. We use the event which is rotated annually among Igbo speaking states to celebrate Igbo culture, dances, songs, and tradition in its finest form. We give generous cash and in-kind awards to secondary school students, teachers, and schools who excel in the learning, teaching and speaking of Igbo language. The experience has been awesome and very fulfilling.
“This year, some dignitaries expected to come are Mr Frank Nneji, chairman of ABC Transport Company, and Dr Mrs Angela Nwankwere, a renowned Igbo lecturer at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University(Unizik), Awka and so many traditional rulers. The program would start by 10 am, while the award-giving, lectures, and celebrations start by noon.”