Posted by DR. COSMOS NDUKWE | 8 years ago | 4,917 times
When I first encountered this subject of discussion, I thought the most appropriate way of doing a very good job would have been to write this piece in Igbo Language. Unfortunately, it dawned on me too that I had not done enough myself to position the Igbo identity in my psyche. Yes, it would be practically impossible for me to express my thoughts in Igbo Language having inherited a poor language transition mechanism, being a victim of institutionalized identity theft and refusing to be identified as Igbo.
This piece does not intend to cry over spilt milk as already the Igbo Language and the Igbo identity are gradually going extinct. We will therefore attempt to identify the various factors that probably endangered the Igbo Language and try to proffer solutions on how to position it as a key communication tool to self pride and identity.
The Igbos are found in South Eastern Nigeria. It is important to observe that they are republican in nature, predominantly merchants and the most out – going ethnic nationality in Nigeria. Igbos leave more outside their shores, and probably more than any other ethnic nationality in Nigeria. If these postulations are true, then it is easy to imagine why the Igbo Language spoken by Igbos is mere;y seen as a convenient means of communication and not a key communication tool to self pride and identity.
In other to properly understand the subject, we will extract few key words that would serve as compass as we navigate through the piece. These words will equally serve as mental short hand to enable us organize our thoughts.
Igbo Language: body of conventions, means of written and spoken expression used by Igbos of South Eastern part of Nigeria. The Igbo Language is, contrary to wide beliefs; rich in lexical structures and speech parts. It is yet to be established if the language is spoken or adopted elsewhere outside South Eastern Nigeria. Experts record that more and more people encounter loose parts of this language as Igbos globe trot in search of greener pastures. What this simply translates to is that a large number of people in the world are aware there is a language called Igbo, a people called Igbo who do just very little to institutionalize Igbo first as a culture, then language.
Communication: It is a process of imparting or exchanging information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium. In this context, we will see Igbo language as a veritable tool for written or spoken ideas. Invariably what English is to United Kingdom, what Hausa is to Northerners in Nigeria, or Polish to Poland should be what Igbo is to South Eastern Nigerians.
However, communication has a way of giving peculiar identity to a people found within a particular geographical entity or culture. It helps to express closeness, affinity, bond an indeed expounds the peculiar ingredients of self pride.
Self – Pride: It is situated in man’s consciousness. It is a feeling of personal worth originating from what or who one can attest he truly is. It is a product of awakened consciousness, a personal evaluation of one’s emotional worth. As hard as it seems, this term suggests that Igbo Language can be rediscovered to help increase the Igbo person’s credentials of personal worth, place him on the pedestal of self esteem for speaking and writing the Igbo language and most importantly living the sIgbo Language.
Identity: The person who has low self esteem obviously deals with either a split or cracked identity. Yes, Igbos desire to have identity but truth is, they prefer to be identified by their wealth of skill, creativity and industry and not the Igbo Language. Identity is personal, it is peculiar and a standard characteristic trait which identifies one thing as being distinct from the other. This piece suggests that as tribal marks distinguish the Igalas, as clutching kettles is a constant trademark of the fulanis, Igbos could use the Igbo Language to practically distinguish themselves from other ethnic nationalities. This is even more desirous now that the totality of way of lives of Igbos including dressing, language and style is facing danger of extinction.
THE ORIGIN OF LOSS OF IGBO LANGUAGE
There is an obvious dearth of literature relating to our topic of discussion. In the absence of rich existing literature, we could fall back on several empirical evidences to attempt tracing the origin of the loss of Igbo Language and unfortunately the gradual loss of identity.
These factors are way too many and cannot be exhausted in one single piece. I have narrowed them down as three principal weknesses which could also be converted to strengths, and obviously help promote Igbo language as a key to restoring self pride and identity of the Igbos.
The conversion is sandwiched in between the challenges. I remember when the Government as an effort aimed at restoring native Nigerian languages, made the offer these languages compulsory. Beautiful idea! Faulty implementation. More than ten years after that wise decision, you will see that no meaningful progress has been made. Candidates still offer and sit for native languages and honorably settle for an “F” because the law did not say they cannot work except they are proficient in any native language like Igbo. I have an idea of how these factors enumerated above could give us the reprieve we have long yearned for:
Restoring our self pride and identities as Igbos using the Igbo Language is possible if we could do just one thing: SPEAK IGBO EVERYWHERE WE GO.
Cosmos Ndukwe (MA)
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