Mrs Nkechinyere Nwokoye, a Professor of Igbo Language and Literature has called on people of the South East Zone to ensure sustainability of Igbo language and prevent it from going extinct.
Nwokoye made the call in Awka on Wednesday during a program organized by the Anambra State Library Board tagged “Asusuigbo ga-adide,” aimed at promoting the sustainability of the Igbo Language.
She said that richness of Igbo language, its unique benefits and the beauty of Igbo values and cultures could not be allowed to go extinct.
“Igbo language is very rich and full of words of wisdom and I wonder why Igbo people feel ashamed to speak or act the language instead they prefer English language.
“Igbo language has many parts like tones, way of writing, speech and pronouncement that are peculiar to it, which adorn it with beauty that should attract people of the zone to be every proud of it.
“The Chinese, French, Hausa, Yourba amongst others are very proud to speak and market their language anywhere in the world, they teach their children, why not us Igbos,” she said.
She said that Igbo language could be used to teach all types of subjects in primary and post primary schools to promote unity and development of the zone.
Nwokoye, who is the Director Diploma and Certificate Program, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, urged parents and teachers to take the teaching and speaking of Igbo language as a matter of patriotism.
Dr Nkoil Nnyigide, Senior lecturer, Department of Igbo, African and Communication Studies said that sustainability could be achieved through speaking it to younger children and also encourage the youths to engage in Igbo cultural activities wherever they reside.
Dr Fidelis Onwuduofo, a Principal Senior lecturer of History Department in College of Nsugbe, said that Igbo said that Igbo language has many colors of beauty that should make Igbos to be proud of their language.
“Igbo language has many proverbs and folklore that distinguished it from other languages; their mode of dressing is part of the language, their values and customs is part of the language,” he said.
He said that it was very good for people to be multi lingua but not to the detriment of their own language.
Mrs Mitchell Onugbolu, Senior Special Assistant on Social Orientation to Anambra Governor, said that the extinction and no extinction of Igbo language lay solely on parents and teachers.
“It is every good that your children speak English language because of future interaction with other tribes but they should not jettison their native language for foreign one.”
Speaking earlier, the state Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C Don Adinuba, said that efforts needed to be made as a matter of urgency, to disprove the forecast of the language going into extinction by UNESCO.
Adinuba, who was represented by Director of the Ministry, Mr Tony Nweke, said that part of these actions to save the language from extinction should be to encourage the speaking, writing and going into prize competition in the language among young school age children.
Chief Damian Okeke –Ogene, Chairman of the occasion, commended the state library board for a well orgainsed program and its interest to ensure that the language got its pride of place.
Okeke- Ogene urged the stakeholders in the state to treat the erosion of Igbo langauge with all seriousness it deserves South East and make the forefathers of Igbo race proud.
The traditional Ruler of Nibo community in Awka South Local Government Area of the State, Dr Ugonwanne Ngene said that Igbo language would be salvaged and despair the fear of its extinction.
Ngene said that efforts would be intensified to ensure that the growing children and the youths did not aid the extinction of the language through its preference to other languages of the world.
Dr Nkechi Udenze, Director of the State Library, said the event was an annual program of the board to encourage young and school age persons to aim at speaking and acting the igbo language everywhere they go.
She said that the idea was nurtured when she discovered that most people from the zone preferred English language to theirs, and even take pride in it while despising those that speak igbo language.
Some private and Public primary and secondary schools attended the Programme.