Prince Obinna Orji is the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Ndioma Africa Networking. In this interview, he discusses the Igbo language and efforts to save it and the entire Igbo culture from extinction. Enjoy it.
On Ndioma Africa TV show
Ndioma Africa is an organisation and it presents Igbo Ndioma programme, which would debut very soon in a colourful manner on DStv and GOtv. There are many beautiful programmes currently airing on different television stations, but Igbo Ndioma programme is coming with something new and different. It will be a programme that will teach the Igbo not just in Lagos State but also the whole of Nigeria, and in fact the world, about the Igbo and the whole essence of their culture and traditions, because the Igbo have a heritage, naturally, we are next to God. The Igbo are different beings and that is why we are carrying a campaign through the television programme that will go round the globe and reach the Igbo wherever they may be.
Reasons for Ndioma Africa programme
The purpose of the programme is to promote the Igbo language and cultural events. Many Igbo families today find it difficult to speak the language, so we want to use the programme to teach the children and future generation the Igbo language. The language is our heritage and we have to promote our cultural heritage because it is what distinguishes us as a people.
On Igbo kids who can’t speak Igbo
It is unfortunate that some Igbo parents prefer to communicate with their children using English. We have reached out to some of these families to inquire why their children neither speak nor understand Igbo language. Most times the parents blame each other. I am not saying that communication in English is not good, but your indigenous language is the most important; ability to speak other languages is secondary. I have asked several people where they would want to come from if they reincarnate, some say they want to come from America and some other places, but I always say I want to reincarnate as an Igbo man, because I believe that God that created us in His image is Igbo.
Fear of Igbo language and culture going extinct
The Ndioma Africa television programme will help in evangelising and addressing this unfortunate development. In the course of the programme, parents will be educated on the importance of teaching their children Igbo language. Igbo Ndioma will help those that can’t speak Igbo learn the language and the ways of life of the people. We hope to reverse the ‘my mama say I be Igbo’ trend.
Igbo in the global setting
We must understand that, first and foremost, you come from somewhere; that is why they say charity begins at home. That is why we have also started this campaign from the home front. I have visited several Igbo traditional rulers and other prominent Igbo sons and daughters to inform them of the campaign and they all showed support. Igbo Ndioma, which will be aired and viewed around the world where the Igbo reside, would keep the culture and traditions of the Igbo alive in the global setting.
Igbo as Jews
When you look at the culture and traditions of Igbo and the Jews, you will see the similarities. The Igbo and the Jews are brothers. I have met with and interviewed many people from Israel, and one of them told me that he has the feeling of brotherhood towards me. The feeling he expressed towards me shows that our spirit works together. The spirit of God working in us made us realise that we are brothers.
On proliferation of Eze Ndigbo
It is very disturbing. I don’t know why the Igbo will allow the proliferation of Eze Ndigbo. When Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Eze Ndigbo Gburuburu was alive, he also frowned at the proliferation of Eze Ndigbo. The Igbo must do something about all these Eze Ndigbo scattered all over. I believe Eze Ndigbo will command more respect if it is, maybe, only one or two of them in Lagos. We have more than five Eze Ndigbo in Ikeja alone, we also have up to five in Surulere and it is the same thing in other places. I think all these Eze Ndigbo can answer ‘Igbo leader’ in the different places they are, so that the Igbo will command respect. We should reduce all these Eze Ndigbo everywhere, because I know that for you to be Eze, the village people would have gathered to coronate you, but some of these people use ‘money power’ to become Eze Ndigbo.
On Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is a hard working governor and should be commended. When the Lawanson Road was bad and I sent a message across to him, he did not waste time in mobilising caterpillars to the area. He has rehabilitated roads in different parts of Surulere and Lagos.
He is doing a great job and I think other state governors should learn from him. If we can get governors like Babajide Sanwo-Olu in about 20 of the 36 states of the country, Nigeria will get better.
Nigerian president of Igbo extraction
Nigeria gained independence with three regional structures: the Northern Region, the Western Region and the Eastern Region. But since the return to democratic rule in 1999, the North and the West have had their turns at the presidency.
The South-South too has had a turn but the South East has not taken a shot at the presidency. I think that, in the spirit of equity and fair play, the rest of Nigeria should allow the Igbo take a shot at the presidency in 2023; doing so will bring more peace, love and harmony to Nigeria and also take the country to greater heights.
On discrimination, inheritance and widowhood
Jesus said He did not come to abolish the laws of Moses but to take it to higher level.
However, we must understand that women are human and have rights. The Supreme Court verdict that women can inherit property in their father’s house is good. We may not be talking of equal rights, but if you are born into a family, then the father should be able to give his daughter her rights. It is not everything that is cultural that we should do, we should rather do the right things. Widows suffer after the death of their husbands because of tradition; we should look into and re-fashion widowhood rites.