By Yemi Adeyemi
An Ndi-Igbo Group, Orlu Gburugburu Cultural Union of Nigeria has called on Southeast states governors and parents, to ensure compulsory teaching and learning of the Igbo language to preserve Igbo cultural heritages.
Chief Nwokedi Orabuchi, chairman of group, spoke at the group’s End of the Year Get Together and Award Presentation in Kirikiri Town, Lagos.
“We are here to bring to the knowledge of our people the Igbos – that our language that is going into extinction should be revived for the good of our prosperity.
“Our language is our identity, our security, our strength, and our pride.
“It is sad to see many of our children today who cannot speak our language. Many cultural heritages are dying and many of us do not care or look at this, ‘’ Orabuchi said.
Orabuchi added: “It is our culture that defines us and make our children behave well. We see a lot of misbehaviour and abnormality today because our language which represents our language has been eroded away.
“It is sad to observe that our Igbo families, especially those living outside Igbo lands, have pushed aside our culture and values and embraced the western style of life”.
According to him, parents have closed their eyes to the use of Igbo language in their homes, preferring to have conversations with their children in English.
“This is indeed a misnomer, an anomaly and misplaced priority as our children are gradually becoming strangers in their own lands.
“Every child is supposed to speak, read and write in Igbo Language. All governors from the south east region must make Igbo language compulsory in all public and private schools.
“If the children understand the language from the cradle, they will not leave the language anywhere they go.
“It is unfortunately that when we even travel home and speak Igbo to our children, they reply in English. Our language is now far from us.
“We cannot fold our hands and watch our culture and values go into extinction because if we do, it will have a ripple effect on our whole being.”
He expressed concern that Ndi-Igbo’s mode of dressing, social institutions like the Ozo title, New Year festival, marriage practices, burial rites, settlement patterns among others have been relegated to the background.
According to him, “a people without the knowledge of their culture are like a tree without roots.’’
The chairman, who commended the Lagos State Government for promoting Yoruba language, urged governors to take a cue from the state and develop indigenous language.
He said that group comprised of 12 local government areas from Imo state that constituted Orlu Senatorial District, adding that the organisation was dedicated to promoting Igbo cultural heritages.
Also speaking, Mr Edwin Agha, the Patron of the group said that Igbo language was dying.
Agha said: “The rate at which Igbo language is dying now is alarming, we need to come together and if we allow it to continue, there is no hope for the feature generation.”
The patron, who commended Gov. Rocha Okorocha of Imo for promoting Igbo language especially by using the language to conduct some government businesses, urged others to take cue.
He urged parents from Igbo descent to encourage their children and wards to speak the language.
The traditional ruler of Kirikiri Town, Chief Babalola Shabi, who made cash donation to the group, said `without Igbo’s there will be no Lagos state.’
Shabi, the Asiwaju of Kirikiri land, called for love and harmonious living among different ethnic groups in the state.
Chief Metche Nnadiekwe, a member of the group and President, United Berger Motor Dealers Association added: “Every Igbo man and woman must know his or her roots, language and culture.
“All our governors, traditional rulers and parents must promote and preserve Igbo cultural values and language.”
A U.S.-based Nigerian educationist, Dr Acho Orabuchi and one of the 14 distinguished personalities, who received different awards of excellence, commended the group for recognising his humanitarian activities.
Orabuchi, who received a Merit Award as a Worthy Ambassador, said that the award was an inspiration that would motivated him to do more for his people.
NAN reports that the event, which had in attendance Igbo traditional rulers, title holders, Orlu descents, featured awards presentation and fund raising for the advancement of the group. (NAN)