Former Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, and Founder and National President of ‘Otu Subakwa Igbo’, Professor Pita Ejiofor, has disclosed plans by the culture revitalisation organisation to organise a pan-Igbo conference aimed at stimulating more interests in writing, speaking and reading in the language, also to appreciate the rich cultural heritage and values of Ndi-Igbo.
Speaking with The Guardian in Awka, Ejiofor noted that the forum would “tackle the issue of incompleteness of Igbo vocabularies.”
The academic guru maintained that “the event would help find out why reading Igbo is difficult to most people.”
He said: “my hypothesis is that many Igbo people don’t write Igbo well. How do we solve the problem? Tell Otu Subakwa Igbo the direction they are not doing well. How do we bring in new words to reflect recent developments?
“A pan-Hausa conference held two years ago at Bayero University, Kano, ended up bringing in more than 2000 Hausa words into vocabulary.”
Ejiofor, who was Anambra State’s representative at the 1994/95 National Conference, expressed fear that Ndigbo might not necessarily believe in the survival of the mother tongue, lamenting that governments in the South East had not deemed it fit to fund the association or its previous attempt.
The professor recalled the United Nations warning that the Igbo language may go into extinction unless drastic remedial actions are taken to save it, blaming all relevant stakeholders for the ‘negligence’.
He continued: “at home, parents and guardians use English language in communicating with their children and wards, while many children in the townships still cannot speak Igbo.
“In schools, some authorities do not encourage teaching of Igbo language contrary to the law passed by the Anambra State Government in May 2010.
“In the churches, you will see an Igbo clergyman, born and bred in Igboland, conducting service or holy mass, including crusades and funerals for Ndigbo in Igboland, in English language.
“In the business environment, I will say is the worst. Look at the names of all our markets – Onitsha Main Market, Timber Shed, provision store, etc.”
He further said: “In the media, how many newspapers do we have published in Igbo language? If I say it, I will be looking down on Ka Odi Taa published by Anambra Newspapers and Publishing Corporation. How many pages is it? What is the frequency of the publication in Igboland? Everything is in English. In some electronic media, ‘Engligbo’ is even encouraged.”