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Ex-VC plans pan-Igbo confab to revive dialect, enrich lexicon

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A culture revitalisation organisation, Otu Subakwa Igbo, has set machinery in motion to organise a pan-Igbo conference to stimulate more interest in writing, speaking and reading in the dialect as well as appreciate cultural heritage and values of Ndi-Igbo.

Founder and national president of the organisation, Professor Pita Ejiofor, in an interview with The Guardian in Awka, Anambra State, said the forum would “tackle the issue of incompleteness of Igbo vocabularies.”

The ex-vice chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, also pointed out that “the event would help find out why reading Igbo is difficult to most people.”

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According to him, “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?”

The don observed that “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, feared 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.

He also decried the “inroad of subtle indoctrination and Anglicisation of Igbo words, norms and practices”, which he stressed, contributed to the systematic encouragement of English culture.

Lauding the United Nations for the warning that “Igbo language may get into extinction unless drastic remedial steps are taken to save it,” Ejiofor blamed all relevant stakeholders for the ‘negligence.’

He reasoned that, “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.”

“The professor went on: “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.”

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