Biko nu, onye obula jisie ike subakwa Igbo!
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From: chinelo ugochukwu
Sent: Thu, July 1, 2010 4:03:02 AM
Subject: [IgboWorldForum] When Promotion Of Igbo Language Got The Biggest Boost Ever
To: IgboEvents@yahoogro ups.com
Date: Wednesday, June 16, 2010, 11:02 PM
When Promotion Of Igbo Language Got The Biggest Boost Ever
By Chukwujekwu Ilozue
The former Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Professor Pita Ejiofor, has almost devoted his entire life to the promotion and survival of Igbo language. Ejiofor said he began the crusade when it became a shame that most children of Igbo extraction could neither speak, nor write their language. This is coupled with warnings from the United Nations and a study by the Oxford University which revealed that if no extra effort is made, Igbo language will go into extinction.
Thereafter, Ejiofor championed the cause for the revival and sustenance of Igbo language among Igbo people in Nigeria. This led to the formation of â€˜Otu Subakwa Igboâ€™ (a group that champions speaking of Igbo language) on February 14, 2006. As his campaign spread throughout Igbo land, Subakwa Igbo soon changed to Suwakwa Igbo, which Ejiofor explained is the central Igbo spoken across the entire Igbo land and he has devoted his time and resources to the course ever since. Ejiofor has a fore-runner though, in late Chief Chidozie Ogbalu who was one of the foremost promoters of Igbo language and culture through writing of several text books in Igbo language. Also before now, the State House of Assembly passed a resolution entrenching the conduct of the House business in Igbo language on Wednesdays.
Nevertheless, the biggest boost to promotion of Igbo language and culture ever was recorded Wednesday, Afor market day, 26 May, 2010 when Otu Suwakwa Igbo was launched at the Women Development Centre, Awka by Governor Peter Obi. That day, Obi not only threw the weight of the state government behind Otu Sawakwa Igbo, but publicly signed into law a Bill to Enforce the Speaking and Writing of Igbo and Wide spread Usage of Igbo Language among Ndigbo in Anambra and Diaspora. It is to be cited as â€˜The Igbo Language Usage Enforcement Law 2010â€™, which had earlier been passed by the state House of Assembly and was supposed to have come into force on May 11..
The law provides that Principals of secondary schools in Anambra State who promote pupils from Junior Secondary School III (JSSIII) to Senior Secondary School I (SSSI) without those pupils passing Igbo language are to be removed from their positions and fined N5,000, for each of the pupils so promoted.
Also, any state or privately owned tertiary institution in the state which is found not to have established an Igbo language department or made Igbo language a mandatory general studies course by September, 2011, shall pay a fine of N100,000 for every month in which the offence continues.
Among other things, the law banned administering of corporal punishment to students who speak Igbo in schools in the State. It made Igbo Language compulsory in all the categories of educational institutions in the State just as English and Mathematics. Also a head of the relevant department who finds a staff of that department dressed in Western attire in contravention of the provisions of a particular section of the law shall send that staff home to change into Igbo traditional attire. However, the law excludes some professional bodies like judicial officers and nurses whose dress code is bound by the law.
From the commencement of the law, every Wednesday in every week shall be observed as a weekâ€™s Igbo day. That means that every staff of the state public service shall dress in Igbo traditional attire and all business and transaction in all offices and departments of the public service, including proceedings in the legislative chamber shall be conducted in Igbo language that day.
The explanatory note of the law states that it is meant to ensure and enforce such level of fluency and vibrancy in the usage of Igbo language as befits its status as one of the three officially recognized indigenous languages of Nigeria pursuant to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, such that the language will once more be proudly spoken and written by Ndigbo in Nigeria and Diaspora, and used for broadcasts in reputable international media.
Besides, Obi promised to send a bill to the House of Assembly to make it compulsory for job seekers on Grade Level 07 to possess at least a pass level in West African Examination Council (WAEC) examination or National Examination Council of Nigeria (NECO) or General Certificate of Education (GCE) and other qualifications for other levels. Local Government Heads of Department should organize seminars and workshops on Igbo language, while the communiquÃ© produced by Otu Subakwa Igbo should be implemented.
At the event, Governor Obi also promised to build Chief Chidozie Ogbalu Igbo Language School that will cost the government about N50.5million, for specialized and holiday programmes in Igbo. Last week Obi followed up his promise to build the Language school by launching it. The Chidozie Oghbalu Igbo Language Centre, he said is a school where children who do not know how to speak the language take short courses during holidays.
In his four page address written and delivered in Igbo at the occasion, Obi told the audience that as they have themselves heard that Igbo language will go into extinction in a few years to come did not sound nice. He said that no other tribe will save Igbo language except Igbo people themselves and time is now to do that as time and tide waits for no one. After asking the audience which was chaired by the Chairman of Traditional Rulersâ€™ Council, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe comprised about 70 traditional rulers, Ohaneze Ndigbo chieftains and many other dignitaries if they wanted Igbo language to survive and they chorused in the affirmative, Obi gave 12 options to promote the language.
Among them Obi said is that when two or more Igbo people are discussing their language of communication should be Igbo and not even an admixture of Igbo and English. Parents should use Igbo to communicate to their children at home and should at all times avoid such sayings as â€œsay hello to uncleâ€, or â€œJunior does not understand Igboâ€, as that is an insult to Igbo language.
As the state has already declared Wednesdays as Igbo weekâ€™s day when traditional dresses and businesses are conducted in Igbo, government he said was adding Tuesday to it because things have spoilt a lot.
The various towns and villages should write and present their address to government officials in Igbo. They should also write programme of events, orations, citations all in Igbo in ceremonies. He asked state owned radio and television stations to emulate their counterparts in the North and in the West in promoting the use of local languages
The Igbo video cassettes produced by Otu Suwakwa Igbo are to be mass produced by government and sold at give away prices to workers to listen to with their families and apply what they learn from them. Traditional rulers as custodians of Language and Culture should strive to protect the language during ceremonies and while receiving dignitaries of other states.
Obi announced immediate offer of employment for all holders of Bachelorâ€™s degrees, Higher National Diploma and National Diplomas of Igbo language. He also announced annual award of N250,000, N200,000, and N100,000 to the three best Igbo students in Secondary Schools in Nigeria. He also gave cash donations and scholarships to University level to the two best Igbo students in WAEC recently namely: Mr. Kevin Anozie of Holy Child Secondary School, Isuofia, and Mr. Chika Echeta of Bishop Onyemelukwe Secondary School Onitsha.
Obi praised Otu Suwakwa Igbo for committing their intellect, efforts and resources in sponsoring, spreading and sustaining of Igbo language. He announced that from then on, government will give the group monthly subvention and recognize the efforts it has made so far.
Expectedly Prof. Ejiofor could not hold his joy that his dream of attracting enough attention and assistance in his struggle to keep Igbo language alive has come true. He thanked Obi for his interest in Igbo cause. Using statistics, he sought to prove that Igbo Language is retrogressing and that only Igbo people will stop the retrogression.
The President of Ohaneze Worldwide, Ambassador Ralph. Uwechue who was represented by the Anambra State chairman of Ohaneze Ndigbo Dr. Atamuo thanked the governor for his commitment to Igbo cause and the able way he pilots the affairs of the State and asked him to use his position as chairman of South East Governorsâ€™ Forum to follow his footstep.
Obiâ€™s efforts in sustaining Igbo language has not passed unnoticed. A writer from Imo state, Mr. Eugene Iwuamanam described it as â€˜innovative and a very sound idea of the Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi (Okwute) Obi to encourage sustenance of Igbo language and culture, it is no gain saying that he has written his name on the moon and sunâ€. Iwuamanam said Obi â€œhas become an illuminating arrow that God perfected and shot directly into ala Igbo to illuminate its four corners, bringing loaves of bread of hope to the hopeless, and heal long time gaping wounds of despairâ€. He said he has read and heard several empirical achievements of this governor which shows that he leads even when his peers turn inwards looking into and out for their pockets. â€˜Some times one feels like wishing that ala Igbo should return to the former East Central State with one Governor called Peter/ Okwute Obiâ€, he wrote.
Also a community leader, Chief Azubikes Okoye, who is also the President General of Agulu Peoples Union commended the measure and particularly Prof. Ejiofor for his committment to the project and the wonderful work he is doing through Suwakwa Igbo organisation.
Okoye lamented the gradual dying of Igbo langauge and blamed parents who would rather make sure their children learn English and other foreign langauges than Igbo and described as scandalous, a situation where in an Igbo family, English is the official language of communication.
He said that the signing of the law to promote the usage of Igbo in Anambra and Diaspora was a mastersroke by Governor Obi and everybody who is Igbo should be proud of the Governor, especially as he showed practical seriousness over the matter, by making Igbo language compulsory in all the schools, private and public, in the State; by making the langaueg a compulsory part of the General Studies in the higher institutions in the State; by offering annual cash awards in his personal capacity to the best candidates in Igbo language in all the secondary schools in Nigeria; by abolishing corporal punishments for those that speak igbo in their schools, among other measures.
He singled out the building of Ogbalu Igbo Langauge School by the Governor as one project all Igbo sons and daughters should encourage. Like Atamuo Chief Okoye appealed to Obi to use his good offices as the Chairman of the South East Governorsâ€™ Forum to persuade other Igbo Governors to replicate what he has done in Anambra State in their states. He also encouraged him to put on the agenda for the South East Governors forum future meetings the issue of Igbo langauge and culture#
Thu Jul 1, 2010 8:22 am
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