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U.S.-based Nigerian raises concern over extinction of local languages, cultures

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A United States of America based Nigerian, Mazi Ogbonna, has urged Nigerians to avert the extinction of some indigenous languages and cultures as they prefer and embrace foreign ones.

Ogbonna, who is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of New York-based Mother Tongue Academy (MTA), spoke in a telephone interview with The Guardian and expressed grave concern over the development.

He said the United Nations (UN) had remarked that some Nigerian indigenous languages were tending towards extinction, including the Igbo language.

“Igbo people have abandoned their language and culture in pursuit of foreign languages and cultures. This trend must be arrested before it is too late for our children to become the ‘lost battalion’ in Igbo Nation and foreign lands.

“Most children who cannot speak or appreciate their local language and culture of their parents will be lost and or confused within a short time in the foreign lands where they now reside,” he stressed.

He argued that an individual’s language embodied his or her essence and served as a crucial link of connection to self-identity, family, community, and society while the loss of one’s language is a loss of one’s culture and identity because “our language is our identity.”

Ogbonna disclosed that he established MTA in the USA to revive the teaching and learning of Nigerian languages online.

Describing the extinction trend of Nigerian languages as disturbing, Ogbonna, whose MTA had already commenced online teaching and learning of Igbo language and poised to add others, urged Nigerians of all tribes and languages to subscribe to the MTA wherever they are.

He also described the MTA as the easiest and fastest online method to learn and revive the Igbo language at affordable membership plan rates, adding that the MTA had also provided low sponsorship rates for good spirited individuals home and abroad to sponsor and encourage children and youths from their villages, organisations, clubs and Churches to learn their mother tongue.

He pointed out that the period of lockdown imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic should be used to teach children Nigerian languages and cultures, as they may be bored at home due to school closures, adding, “Because they are young, they can still be taught the core values of their cultures through their local languages.”


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