Mother Tongue Day: Igbos urged to promote language, save from extinction

Participants at a symposium to commemorate the `Mother Tongue Day' on Friday urged the Igbo to take pride in speaking their language to save it from extinction.

Speaking during the event organised by Umuada Igbo in Enugu, the President-General of the group, Dr Kate Ezeofor, urged parents, teachers, care-givers and other stakeholders to communicate with their children in the native language.

"Mother Tongue Day is a day set aside by the United Nations to mark the promotion indigenous languages in homes, schools, churches, markets, media and the society at large.

"In essence, it has to begin at home.

"So, we, the Umuada Igbo, took it upon ourselves to create the awareness to enlighten the Igbo on the need to promote the writing and speaking of Igbo language,’’ she said.

Ezeofor said this was necessary so that the Igbo language would not go extinct as predicted by the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

She said that with the theme of this year’s event, `Asusu Igbo Amaka’, the Igbo should see the language as their identity which they should be proud of.

The Chairman of the occasion and a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Prof. Ginigeme Mbanefo, said the Igbo should join hands to fight against the extinction of the language.

The Zonal Director of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Mr Chigozie Obialor, who was represented by Mr Chibueze Alumona, also condemned a situation where parents and teachers punished children for speaking Igbo language.

The founder of Rock Family Church, Bishop Obi Onubuogu, decried the rate at which the Igbo were relegating their language, customs and culture.

"All Igbo words, language and culture which are not fetish and do not oppress the rights and privileges of another person are supported by Christianity.

"People should not hide under the guise of religion to write off our language and culture. We must all join hands to ensure that Igbo language will not die,’’ he said.

The event featured the presentation of papers by Rev. Msgr. Obiakoizu Iloanusi and Rev. Berne Ezeliora.

Highlights of the occasion include quiz competition, traditional wrestling, fashion parade, idioms and goodwill messages.

The event which is fourth in the series was conducted in Igbo language.

Umuada Igbo is an umbrella body of Igbo daughters in the seven Igbo-speaking states.

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