Parents of the Igbo-speaking states of Nigeria have been urged to cultivate the habit of teaching their children the language of their people, to enable them appreciate the rich culture of the Igbo nation.
The advice was given in Lagos recently at the maiden Lecture/Igbo Cultural Day organised by the Department of Linguistics, International School, Lagos (ISL) by Akachi Ezeigbo, a professor of English, University of Lagos (UNILAG); Anthony Ekemezie Mereni, a professor of Music (Unilag); Iwu Ikwubuzo, associate professor, Linguistics, African and Asian Studies (Unilag); Adora Ojo, principal, ISL; Eze Ohazulike, Eze Ndigbo Lagos; Nkechi Okeke, Igbo Language subject head, ISL, and C. B. Nnabuihe, senior lecturer, Linguistics, African and Asian Studies (Unilag).
In her remarks, Akachi Ezeigbo noted that language was the life-wire of any nation, stressing that the poor state of affairs in relation to the relegation of Igbo language and culture by the people themselves must be urgently addressed.
“I urge parents, particularly mothers who have closer contacts with their children, to imbibe the habit of speaking the language to their children and putting them through the rich culture of the people nation. It is wrong for parents to shirk this all-important responsibility,” Ezeigbo said.
“To the students, I want to advise that you learn the Igbo language and the culture because even if you travel abroad for studies, you still need to know the basic culture of your people. This will help you make right decisions that would not be detrimental to your wellbeing,” she further said.
Delivering the lecture, Iwu Ikwubuzo blamed the near-relegation of Igbo language on the poor attitude of the people themselves, whom, he accused of preferring to speak, even in their homes, in other tongues, to promoting the Igbo language.
According to Ikwubuzo, “Parents have much work to do; they must encourage their children to speak the language. You can’t be strong in the culture if you do not speak the language. Parents must not push off their responsibility of teaching their children the Igbo language to teachers in school. The major problem is lack of interest in speaking the language. I must emphasise that language helps in the development of a nation.”
In her remarks, Adora Ojo, encouraged all students of Igbo extraction to, not only show interest, but also speak the Igbo language in their own interest. According to her, “no matter the level of education one acquires, without speaking one’s language, one becomes a cultural amputee;” and urged parents to help in the sustenance of the Igbo language and the culture of the Igbo nation.
Earlier, chairman on the occasion and father of the day, Eze Ohazulike, Eze Ndigbo Lagos, who was represented by Val Obi Ngoladi (a member of his cabinet), commended the school for the initiative. According to the monarch, “It is a pity that many Igbo people have abandoned their culture. Speaking English Language to your children does not make them to be professors. Igbo people must cultivate the habit of teaching their children their native language for the sake of posterity. The more of your culture you know, the more accepted you become even in society.”
In her welcome address, Nkechi Okeke, explained that the essence of the event was to promote the Igbo language and emphasise the need for students of Igbo nation to, not only speak the language, but to be proud of their ‘Igboness.’
Expressing their views at the event, Mereni and Nnabuihe urged ISL not to relent on its efforts at promoting the Igbo language, stressing that with events organized by the school, the consciousness of Igbo culture would be aroused in many people, particularly those who are guilty of neglecting to pass on the tradition of Igbo language in their homes.
Ekene Agomuo, a senior tutor in the school and the organising secretary of the lecture, who handled the exhibition aspect of the event, explained to the students and guests the usefulness of palm tree in Igbo land, noting that, almost every part of the tree is of economic importance to the people and plays a huge role in the culture of the Igbo nation.
By Sam Otti