Different tribes there are, using different languages, different dialects. Each is known for its own. It singles out descendants of a particular tribe all over the world no matter where. It is their true identifying mark. It is part of their culture, their inherited speech, what they are known by. Once an individual is born in a land, he grows to see himself fluently speaking a particular dialect spoken by the people of that area or vicinity. He gets so acquainted with it that he understands even the deep words with in-depth meaning. He feels at home, more relaxed and well protected when he goes out of his way from the place he has ever known as and called home to another land and finds someone who speaks and understands his dialect. He can go as far as entrusting into his care his most cherished precious possession, even letting out his deepest secret. He has found a brother, a loving companion, a trusted friend in a distant land.
Is this actually the case with the 3 major ethnic groups in this part of the world; Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba?
Is it true of your own ethnicity? Can it be said of you as a person? Do you leap to your feet when you run into your brother in a distant land and start interacting in your language immediately? If it can be said of you, then, you are proud of your language. Good in it, you can defend and stand up for it. Noticeably, descendants of the Hausa and Yoruba ethnic groups value their God-given tongue and would not forfeit it for anything in the world, unlike the Igbos. They are so proud of their language that they interact with it everywhere they go, even in formal and official settings. Their children, as young as they are, are taught their dialect and you look on in amazement as they rattle in their dialect. When you seem not to understand or be interested in their language, they scramble for any slightest opportunity to teach you. Most times, it is just that language that they can speak. They believe they have no business learning a general language like the English Language. They even mock anyone who seems not to understand their language. Such ones have vowed not to allow their language go into extinction.
On the contrary, Igbos who are the inheritors of the Igbo culture and language feel ashamed to speak their language. They mix up Igbo and English languages when they speak. Of course, this is a mock of one’s God-given special cultural heritage. (Ka anyi gwa onwe anyi eziokwu). Most Igbo households are seen making English language the sole interactive language at home. So, how are children of such homes to pass the subject in school, better still, compete healthily with their mates? As the family lineage goes on, the situation worsens. Traces of Igbo language are very slim, almost unnoticeable. Our cultural heritage, our language, our identifying mark is constantly being dragged to the mud, something our forefathers labored to nurture. Quite disheartening! Discouraging you might say! Wasted efforts!
Therefore, it is time for us to rekindle the spirit we had at first. We must believe in ourselves, our culture, our mother tongue, our cultural heritage. To get going into the wonderful arena of positivity and change, channeling us to intellectual discovery and development, the updated version of the Igbo dictionary must always be readily available. Seminars and conferences in Igbo language should be organized and held frequently. These will go a long way in saving our dear language from extinction.
We have a gifted land with diverse and captivating culture, music, language, dressing, tradition, cuisine. Be proud of it anywhere. Defend it. Let us hold the reins of change in our own hands and become the change agents of that change we want to see around us. Yes, our joint efforts can!
AM PROUDLY IGBO!