By Chukwudi Nweje
Prince Obinna Orji, Onu n’ekuru Igbo (Mouth Piece of the Igbo) Africa, is the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Ndi Oma Africa Network. He is on a mission to revive Igbo language and socio-cultural heritage and is partnering with Nigerian Television Authority, (NTA) Channel 10 Tejuosho, Yaba, Surulere, Lagos. His programme airs from 7:30 to 8:00 pm every Saturday on Startimes NTA. He warns about the Igbo language and culture going into extinction and urged parents and guardians to preserve the God-given language and culture of their ancestors by teaching and speaking to the children and wards in the Igbo language. Enjoy it
In October 2020, you opened your office in Ojuelegba, Lagos; what progress have you made in this almost one year?
Igbo Ndioma Africa, powered by Ndioma Africa Network Limited opened its office at Ojuelegba, Lagos last year with a mission to revive the Igbo language and socio-cultural heritage, because we observed that many parents don’t speak or teach their children Igbo language. If we don’t intervene, there is a possibility that our God-given language and socio-cultural heritage may go into extinction.
So, we are out to promote Igbo language and socio-cultural events and to show the world that the Igbo are great people.
We have observed that many Igbo people do not speak the language fluently, so we have come with a mission to promote the Igbo language and educate the people. English is a language borrowed from the British colonialist, it is alien to us, but the Igbo language is indigenous to us. I want to do something that is worthwhile to revive the language and culture of the Igbo. Some people make the mistake of not speaking the language to their children, or when they do, they like to mix the Igbo language with the English language. The Late high life music maestro, Oliver de Coque, called this speaking ‘Engiligbo’, which is a mixture of English and Igbo languages. I don’t buy that idea, Oliver De Coque rightly condemned the practice; so I want to promote the speaking of the undiluted Igbo language and revive our rich culture. I want to be a contributor to my generation, I am not just talking about speaking the Igbo language, I am talking about also teaching idioms and their meaning to the upcoming ones.
How is that mission going, what practical steps have you taken to achieve your goal?
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 started my crusade from my own home where my wife and I speak Igbo to our children. From my household, I have gone out to friends, colleagues and neighbours and encouraged them on the need to speak Igbo to their children and wards. Igbo language is special and was made by God, who created us in his image and likeness. God knows why he created the various languages and cultures, so why do we want to kill our Igbo language by not speaking it.
I have gone further on a new method that will involve radio and television. I have taken my campaign to Radio Nigeria Bond FM from where we reach out to more of our Igbo brothers and sisters. The feedback has been impressive and many of them have said they also want to see the programme and what we are doing on television. I am also in partnership with Nigeria Television Authority (NTA)Channel 10, Lagos. You will recall that the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed recently digitalised the station and in the next few months the station will take a new shape. It may be a grassroots station, but it will serve as a channel to reach even many more Igbo across the globe. I will be on air every Saturday from 7:30 to 8:00 pm. The programme will bring light, a new dimension that will help my people all over the world. When we talk about Igbo Ndioma Africa, we are talking about teaching our people, both the young and old real Igbo language and idioms that people will listen to and be filled with joy. I will advise my people to be part of the endeavour.
Are you worried about Igbo sons and daughters’ non-proficiency in speaking the language?
I am not satisfied with the way things are currently. The Igbo are one part of the tripod that make up Nigeria. When you talk about Nigeria, the major tribes are Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba. But, if you look at the way things are currently, the Hausa and Yoruba speak their respective languages freely and openly among themselves, but the Igbo do not. Many times, they speak English or they speak pidgin English. Sometimes, you will also discover they do this because they don’t know how to speak Igbo fluently. Our people have to take action, we must do something now before it will be too late.
How do you think the Igbo should promote their language?
Igbo sons and daughters should believe in themselves and shun everything that displeases God, God will give them the strength and direction they need. Igbo Ndioma will be aired and viewed around the world where the Igbo reside, it would keep the culture and traditions of the Igbo alive in the global setting.