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Saving Igbo language, culture from extinction



Saving Igbo language, culture from extinction

The fear that the Igbo language and culture may soon go into extinction if nothing is done urgently was brought to the front burner at the launch of a book on Igbo proverbs in Umuahia, Abia State capital with a call on parents and teachers to popularize the teaching and speaking of the language in schools and homes.


The 550 Igbo Proverbs with translations was presented to check the slide of the language into extinction. Reviewing the 81 page book, Professor Anthony Nwabughogu from the Abia State University, Uturu, ABSU, pointed out that the book written by Chief Simeon Ihemanma, is an important contribution to the study of Igbo language and culture. Nwabughogu, who described the book as informative, precise, clear and adequately complements existing literature on the subject, said, “In this publication, Chief Ihemanma has demonstrated that he belongs to the class of top writers of the Igbo language”.


He said: “Since the resurgence of interest in Igbo studies, following the attainment of independence by Nigeria in 1960, the concentration of scholars has been on writing books and articles on Igbo language and literature. Few works have been done on the Igbo proverb.


“This is understandable. Proverbs, by their nature have proven to be the difficult aspect of any language either to formulate or to understand and so do not attract the interest of the general writer. It is a preserve of top class writers or those imbued with the talent”.


Nwabughogu further described the book as a major contribution to the study of Igbo language and culture through the medium of the proverb and strongly recommended it to researchers in Igbo language, all departments of Igbo linguistics in the tertiary institutions and all Igbo-speaking people, young and old, who want to improve the aesthetic content of their discourse in Igbo language and earn respect of their audience as mature, skillful and artistic speakers.


Speaking earlier, the chairman of the occasion and ABSU Vice Chancellor, Professor Uche Ikonne, described the production of the book as a step in the right direction, as it is trying to reinforce “what we inherited from our forefathers”.


His words: “Igbo culture is not dying. It is undergoing transformation and people are reinstituting the culture. So, it will not die. This book is a bridge between the old and the present and between the present and the future. “Anybody telling you that Igbo culture will die is a liar.


Igbo is a very invaluable nation in the whole world and its culture has been documented from Things Fall Apart to the present day and all our culture has its root and it is a living one”.


The ABSU VC charged Igbo youths to be proud of their culture and language and speak it with all boldness as it is a living language. The author of the book, Chief Simeon Ihemanma, described the book as a vision come true as it would be of great asset to teachers and students of Igbo language and culture in the primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in Igbo land.


He said: “There have been several calls from notable Igbo leaders, professionals, scholars and people of goodwill not to allow Igbo language to go into extinction.


“Many years ago, my second daughter, Eziaku Odochi Ihemanma, continually requested me to document some of the proverbs which I use in instructing them in the house. Recently, my grand children who enjoy the tales and folklores which I tell them when they come on holidays made this same request repeatedly. One of the children told me that their mother told them that Igbo language has expired.


“On hearing this, I became challenged and I decided to make my own little contribution to the promotion of Igbo language and culture through this medium”. Ihemanma, the pioneer sole administrator of the then Nneochi L.G.A, now Umunneochi L.G.A, called on the government of the Southeast region of Nigeria particularly Abia State government not to allow Igbo language to go into extinction. His words:”There are three major languages in Nigeria- Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba.

It is regrettable that the other two have advanced and promoted beyond imaginable heights. Hausa language is spoken in most West Africa countries and beyond. It has a space in BBC programmes. So also is Yoruba language. “The Lagos State government has through its legislative arm made Yoruba language the only language spoken in its plenary session. This is even watched live on TVC channel.”

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