The NDIGBO Lagos foundation in collaboration with the Youth Orientation for Development (YOD), a UNESCO NGO have stressed the need for concerted efforts towards preserving the Igbo language to save it from possible extinction, at an event to celebrate the International Mother Tongue Day in Lagos.
The event, which had as its theme ASUSU IGBO GA-ADI was held at the NDIGBO Lagos foundation secretariat and had in attendance the President General of NDIGBO Lagos, Prof. Anya. O. Anya, president (YOD) a UNESCO NGO Ambassador Emmanuel Ejiogu, including the cream of Igbo people and some invited schools.
In a speech delivered by the Ambassador Emmanuel Ejiogu, (YOD) explained that ”it has sadly been discovered that the Igbo language is falling out of the communication choice of many Igbo people, hence the need to use the occasion of the celebration of this year’s international mother tongue day to raise the awareness of the danger befalling the Igbo language with its rich cultural heritage.”
”This event seeks to raise the awareness for the need to promote the use of the language through the various communication channels and media, especially among Igbo children, so the Igbo literature, films, music, should be encouraged and promoted.”
”I am glad to know that NDIGBO LAGOS FOUNDATION and other Igbo social-cultural associations such as the OGBAKO ASUSU IGBO and several other individuals and scholars like, the Administrative Secretary of NDIGBO LAGOS FOUNDATION Mazi Ireke Agbeze Kalu Onuma and other writers are passionate about the desire to see that the rich Igbo language is preserved and promoted.”
”We are not just particular about the Igbo language alone but the other rich languages that make this entity we call Nigeria. we are ready to continue to collaborate and support all the social-cultural groups who are concerned with the promotion and perseveration of our diverse cultures because this is one of the ideals of UNESCO, he said.
In a short message by Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General read at the event, it says ”on the occasion of this day, I launch an appeal for the potential of multilingual education to be acknowledged everywhere, in education and administrative systems, in cultural expressions and the media, cyberspace and trade”.
Meanwhile, the president of NDIGBO Lagos Foundation Prof. Anya who spoke to PEPLNEWS on how to promote mother-tongue said, ”we need to have a national policy of encouraging languages and unless we do that, the aspect of our culture you cannot recapture, and culture is a thing you pass on to the next generation, so it is important we have a national policy”.
“For the national policy to be put in place it has to be the job of Federal Ministry of Education by identifying those languages of the separate areas and setting up the machinery committees and funds that will handle each of those languages and then encourage each state ministry of education to also look for those concerned in their state” Prof Anya concluded.
A student of Merc Kings Scholars College Nnamdi Justice who spoke with PEPLNEWS on his impression on mother tongue said ”it really gives me joy when I see my brothers and sisters communicating in Igbo, I feel happy.”
“My message to my colleagues out there is to cool down and learn their mother tongue, there is nothing like mother tongue. Ones’ dialect is very important in their life because language determines who you are, where you are from and where you are coming from” he said.
The president of YOD, a UNESCO NGO Ambassador Emmanuel Ejiogu who also spoke with PEPLNEWS said, ”the motive behind international mother tongue day is to make sure no one loses his or her identity from wherever he comes from, as a result of enclosing his or her language so it is just to promote diverse cultures and languages”.
“This year, we have as our theme: ASUSU IGBO GA-ADI, the previous year we brought together people from different cultures to celebrate the day but this year, for the fact that UNESCO in 2012 predicted that the Igbo language is among the endangered languages, that will likely be extinct come 2015, as a result, we have put this together as an attempt to preempt that prediction.”
”So we are not only working on the Igbo language because it is not only Igbo language that UNESCO predicted on, there are some other languages we are encouraged to work with too, that have been predicted by UNESCO as endangered languages.”
”The government should encourage mother tongue in every state, and they can do these by encouraging languages in schools, making sure there are pieces of literature in various languages, books on different languages and ensure teachers are employed to teach them, so that we don’t lose these languages”, he said.
However, there were dance performances by various schools delivered in the Igbo language.