Search this Site and the Web

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Will Igbo language die as predicted?

written by Azuka Onwuka

To some people, the warning by UNESCO that Igbo language could go extinct in 50 years sounds far-fetched. To others, it is a possibility. But the question is: What language will the Igbo people speak if their language goes extinct? Will it be English, Naijana (derogatorily called Pidgin English) or Ngiligbo (a mixture of English and Igbo)?

There are factors that work against the Igbo language. One is the proclivity of Igbo people to travel in large number out of their hometowns. Most Igbo people believe that for them to succeed in life, they need to move to somewhere away from home. Sometimes, this relocation is not out of Igboland. For example, Onitsha is the largest commercial city of Igboland, but while Igbo people move from other Igbo towns to live in Onitsha, there are indigenes of Onitsha who have left Onitsha to settle in Enugu or Aba to do business. Even though Nnewi has the largest motor and motorcycle parts market in Igboland, there are Nnewi indigenes who have moved to Obosi to transact the same auto parts business. The same goes for Aba or Ngwa indigenes who leave the big market in Aba to settle in Okigwe or Umuahia for clothing or footwear business.
In the same vein, there are those who relocate to other parts of Nigeria, while others travel out of the country.

While these migrations are going on, especially outside Igboland, the children born away from home don't have much opportunity to speak Igbo. The parents who should teach them Igbo feel that the language is not an "international language" that will give the child an advantage in life. To them, English is more useful and classier. Some parents, especially those who did not attend a university, even take the extreme measure of barring their children from speaking Igbo on the erroneous belief that it will hamper their learning of English. They feel that having missed the opportunity to learn how to speak and write good English, their children should not face the same disadvantage. So, they end up speaking Naijana (the so-called Pidgin English) to their children, believing that they are speaking English to the children. You hear expressions like: "Junior, wetin dey do you? I go beat you now!"

There are also Igbo people who are not proud of their Igboness.
But the greatest threat to Igbo language is the lack of a conscious effort to make it grow in vocabulary. It is true that English is very popular globally because two world powers (the United States and the United Kingdom) speak it, but English owes its strength to its dynamism. Constantly and consistently, new words are officially added to the English language, either coined or borrowed from other languages.
It is not so for Igbo language. The early missionaries of Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc, who translated the Bible into Igbo, did the Igbo a world of good. It is in the Igbo Bible that you see that a word like flag or banner is calledokoloto. That is where you learn that, contrary to the confusion among many young Igbo people today, the leopard isagu, while the lion is odum.

Regrettably, the translators of the Igbo Bible did not create names for everyday items like "table" and "window." They rather chose to Igbonise them as tebulu and windo, but that does not sound so good. If they had created names for them, by now such names would have stuck, just like mahadum has stuck for university and ekwe-nti has stuck for phone.
In the same vein, the translators of the Igbo Bible also failed to translate some Bible books like Genesis, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, choosing rather to Igbonise them. But interestingly, they translated Chronicles to Ihe Emere n'ubochi Ndi Eze, shortened as Ihe Emere. I have always wondered, if they could translate Exodus and Numbers as Opupu andOnu Ogugu respectively, why did they not translate Genesis to Mmalite or Mbido, since Genesis means "beginning"? No Bible book should be Igbonised except those that are named after people, like Matthew, Mark, Job, Joel etc.

The Igbo bishops of the Anglican Church and Methodist Church (and denominations who use the Igbo Bible) should see the continuous upgrade of the Igbo Bible as an ecclesiastical duty they owe the Igbo in line with the injunction that the gospel should be preached to the people in the language they understand. Even though my grandmothers did not go to school, they read the Igbo Bible and Igbo hymn book (Ekpere na Abu) perfectly, because they were groomed in the church in Igbo.
Igbonisation of words is a lazy approach to language development. One hears things like computer being Igbonised askomputa. That is not acceptable. Proper names like Facebook and Twitter can be Igbonised as Fesibuku and Tuwita, but common names should be given Igbo names. There should be an Igbo body whose duty should be to constantly create names for all known items in the world. It is only when the brain fails to find a name that such a name can be Igbonised.

One nagging question I have had for long is why the months and days (except Sunday called Ubochi uka: Church Day) don't have Igbo names all these years. Rather, they are all lazily Igbonised. As my contribution to the growth of Igbo language, I have decided to give names to the days and months, following a simple pattern. For the days, I have chosen the root word "izu" (week), since they are "days of the week." So, I have named Sunday - Soizu; Monday - Moizu; Tuesday - Tuizu; Wednesday - Nweizu; Thursday - Toizu; Friday - Furaizu; Saturday - Satizu.

In the same vein, I have chosen to name the months using "aro" (year) as the root word, since they are "months of the year." So, I name January - Jenaro; February - Febuaro; March - Maaro; April - Eparo/Epraro; May - Mearo; June -Junaro; July - Jularo; August - Agaro; September - Seputaro; October - Oktaro; November - Novaro; December -Disaro.
Even to me, when I coined the names they sounded ridiculous, but that is how every new thing sounds. The first time I heard someone use ekwe-nti on radio for mobile phone, I could not stop laughing, because ekwe is a musical instrument in Igbo. But today, in the absence of any other name for telephone or mobile phone,ekwe-nti has become the Igbo name for phone. Mahadum for university also sounded funny because it was coined from mara ha dum (know them all).

In the same vein, I have decided to name some items like cheetah agu-oso (speed leopard), because it is the fastest land animal; while I name tiger agu-ukwu (big leopard), because it is the largest of the Big Cats.
Igbonisation is better when the Igbonised word is different in sound from the English name. If not, non-Igbo speakers would understand almost all your discussion. For example, a court messenger in the colonial days was called kotuma by the people, and it stuck. A train was called ugbo oloko: coined from locomotive engine. It stuck. But if you fill your speech with Igbonised words like komputa, tebulu, windo, etc, even an English man will easily understand your Igbo discussion, and that is not cool.

Children can learn as many as five languages while growing up without mixing them up. Almost every European country has its own language, and no country believes that the languages of its neighbours are better than its. Therefore, European children are taught many languages in school, so that they can communicate with their neighbours in English, French, German, Spanish, etc. The brain is an extraordinary machine.

Therefore, parents should insist on speaking Igbo to their children at home, because they will naturally learn English at school. Those whose parents are alive should also send their children to their hometowns to spend some weeks of holidays, so as to learn the language.
Nollywood started in Igbo. Producing films in Igbo should be resuscitated too.
My vow is that Igbo will not die in my era. But even if others allow it to die, my family and I will speak it among ourselves until we join our ancestors.

No comments:


I am an Igbo, I was born an Igbo, I live the life of an Igbo, I come from Igbo, I speak Igbo, I like to be Igbo, I like to dress in Igbo, I eat Igbo food, my heritage, culture and tradition is Igbo, my parents are Igbo.

Am sorry I cannot help it if you hate my lineage. Am sorry I cannot help it if you detest Igbo, am sorry I cannot help it if you hate me because am Igbo. Igbo is who I am, my name is Igbo and I must die an Igbo.

You see Igbo as a threat, why? You call Igbo rapist, criminals, ritualist, prostitutes, kidnappers. You attribute all negative vices to represent Igbo? Why do you do that? You do because you feel threatened that Igbo might outrun the rest of the tribes. Why do you hate Igbo and despise us? You do that because we are creative, enlightened, hardworking, industrious, genius, intelligent, smart, rich, beautiful and amazing. But its difficult for you to admit it because you feel jealous of my race.

Igbo do not own politics, Igbo do not control the economy neither do we control the natural resources and the common wealth of the nation. You do, we don't and yet, despite the fact that you own everything, we still remain one indispensable race that has outshined the other race in all ramifications.

You fear us because you want to exterminate and annihilate our race, you deny us many things and yet we are stronger, richer and mightier. You fear us because we are everywhere. You fear us because no matter how rural a place might be, when Igbo steps in, they turn it into a Paradise. We have our own resources, which lies in resourcefulness, we do not bother you and your control over the polity, but yet when we cough you and the other race begin to shiver.

Am proud being an Igbo, am proud of my heritage and culture. Igbo means high class, Igbo means independence, Igbo means hard work and strength, Igbo means riches, Igbo means resourcefulness, Igbo means self belonging, Igbo means self esteem, Igbo means pride, Igbo means swag.

Udo diri unu umunnem.
# IgboAmaka
# AnyiBuNdiMmeri

Michael Ezeaka

This is beautiful poetry ...

In response to Alaba Ajibola, the Babcock Lecturer Hate Speech against Igbos.


In Igboland women live apart from their husbands and neither cook for them nor enter their husband's quarters when they are in their period. They are seen as unclean. Even up till today such practice is still applicable in some parts of Igboland especially by the traditionalists. Before a woman can enter the palace of Obi of Onitsha, she will be asked if she is in her period, if yes, she will be asked to stay out.

Leviticus 15: 19-20
When a woman has her monthly period, she remains unclean, anyone who touches her or anything she has sat on becomes unclean.

An Igbo man's ancestral heritage, called “Ana Obi” is not sellable, elders will not permit this. If this is somehow done due to the influence of the West the person is considered a fool and is ostracized by the community.

1 Kings 21:3
I inherited this vineyard from my ancestors, and the Lord forbid that I should sell it, said Naboth.

Igbos have practiced the taking of a late brother's wife into marriage after she had been widowed until the white men came. Now it is rarely done but except in very rural villages.

Deuteronomy 25:5
A widow of a dead man is not to be married outside the family; it is the duty of the dead man's brother to marry her.

In Igboland, there is a unique form of apprenticeship in which either a male family member or a community member will spend six (6) years (usually in their teens to their adulthood) working for another family. And on the seventh year, the head of the host household, who is usually the older man who brought the apprentice into his household, will establish (Igbo: idu uno) the apprentice
by either setting up a business for him or giving money or tools by which to make a living.

Exodus 21:2
If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve you for six years. In the seventh year he is to be set free without having to pay you anything.

In Igboland , the yam is very important as it is their staple crop. There are celebrations such as the New yam festival (Igbo: Iri Ji) which are held for the harvesting of the yam. New Yam festival (Igbo: Iri ji) is celebrated annually to secure a good harvest of the staple crop. In the olden days it is an abomination for one to eat a new harvest before the festival. It's a tradition that you give the gods of the land first as a thanksgiving.

Deuteronomy 16:9
Count 7 weeks from the time that you begin to harvest the crops, and celebrate the harvest festival to honor the lord your God, by bringing him a freewill offering in proportion to the blessing he has given you. Celebrate in the Lord's presence together with your children, servants, foreigners. Be sure that you obey my command, said the Lord.

In Igboland it's a tradition that the male children are circumcised on the 8th day. This tradition is still practiced till date.

Leviticus 12:3
On the eighth day, the child shall be circumcised.

In Igboland, there is a practice known as "ile omugwo ". After a woman has given birth to a child, a very close and experienced relative of hers, in most cases her mother is required by tradition to come spend time with her and her husband. During which she is to do all the work of the wife, while the new mom's only assignment to the baby will be to breastfeed. This goes on for a month or more. In the Igbo old tradition, at this time, the new mom lives apart from her husband, would not cook or enter his quarters.

Leviticus 12:1-4
For seven days after a woman gives birth, she is ritually unclean as she is during her monthly period. It will be 33 days until she is ritually clean from the loss of blood; she is not to touch anything that is holy.


The Igbo tribe is in a serious problem and danger of extinction for the following reasons:

50% of Igbos are born outside Igbo land. Meaning that those children are not likely to live and work in Igbo land and cannot speak Igbo language but foreign language (Yoruba, Hausa, French, English).

40% of Igbos girls between the age of 25 & 45 are single with no hope of marriage because 35% of Igbo boys live overseas and they have all married white ladies.

75% of Igbo youths leave Igbo land every year in search of opportunities in Yoruba, Hausa land or overseas.

85 % of Igbos have family houses and own investments outside Igbo land. They strongly believe in one Nigeria but failed to know that NO Yoruba or Hausa man has a family house or investment in Igbo land.

Igbos are the only people who believe that living outside their land is an achievement.

Igbos are the only tribe that celebrate their tradition outside their land e.g. Eze Ndi Igbo, Igbo Village in America and this is because they have family homes in foreign lands.

Igbos have failed to know that the children you have outside Igbo land especially overseas will never think of living in Igbo land. So what happens to the properties you are building for them when you are gone?

Igbos are the only tribe who see their land as a place to visit or a tourist site than a place to work and live.

Igbos are the only tribe who instead of promoting and appreciating their culture through movies and documentaries they have sought to ridicule it by portraying rituals, killings, wickedness, love for money and other social vices which were not originally inherent in our culture thereby cursing more harm than actually promoting their culture.

Igbos are the only people who without hesitation believe their history and description when it is told or written by an enemy or a foreigner. E.g. that you do not love yourselves or that you love money.

Igbos are the ONLY largest tribe on earth who fought for their independence and failed to achieve their freedom after 40 years.

Igbos are the only tribe who fails to honour their brave heroes and heroines especially the innocent children starved to death during the Biafran war.

Igbos are the only tribe who embraced their enemy after a bloody civil war and subsequently become slaves.

Igbos do not find it necessary to teach their own version of history to their children.

Igbos fight for marginalisation in Nigeria but has no collective strength or teeth to bite.

Igbos how long are you going to fight for your relevance in Nigeria?

How long are you going to fight for a functional airport, rail networks and other structural establishments that underpin sustainable development?

How long are you prepared to wait for your enemy to guide you to your destiny?

Oh Igbos!
Where are your leaders?

Unfortunately, none of them live and work in Igbo land. If you wish to save the future of your children, your identity, your generation and your race then you need freedom and that freedom is Biafra.

Ukpana Okpoko gburu bu nti chiri ya!

By Chime Eze

The Igbo: We die for causes, not for personalities

Written by Emeka Maduewesi

~on fb. 28th September, 2016.

The Igbo will never die for anyone. We will not even riot for anyone. But the Igbo will die for any cause they believe in because the Igbo have a true sense of justice and a determination to obtain it.

The Igbo will not riot because one of their own lost an election. Operation Wetie was the Western response to a massively rigged 1965 election. The Yoruba doused fellow Yorubas in petrol and burnt them alife. Properties were burnt with occupants. The Igbo will never do this.

In 1983, the Yoruba went on a rampage again over the massive rigging by NPN. Lifes were lost and properties destroyed. The riots were over personalities.

Contrast that with Anambra State where Chief Emeka Ojukwu was rigged out by his own NPN, who also rigged out Chief Jim Nwobodo. The Igbo did not protest because the goat's head is still in the goat's bag.

In the North, ba muso was the battle cry when Sultan Dasuki was imposed on the Sokoto Caliphate. The riot and protest lasted for days and crippled economic activities.

The Igbo will riot over issues and causes. The Aba Women Riot was over Tax. The Enugu coal mine riot was about conditions of service. The Ekumeku Uprising was over British colonialization.

Those of "Ekumeku" ancestry - Umu Eze Chima and Umu Nri - were at the forefront of the struggles for Nigerian independence, with people like Dr. A A Nwafor Orizu and Chief Osita Agwuna serving prison terms. Any struggles the parents could not conclude is continued by the children by other means.

The Biafran war was a response to the genocide. The war in fact was brought upon us. The battlefield was Eastern Region. The war ended in 1970 but the issues and causes were not resolved. That is where we are today.

The Igbo will also jointly rise to fight evil in their midst. They did it in Onitsha in the 1980's, Owerri in the 90's, and with Bakkassi in the 2000.

The Igbo will not die for any man. But the Igbo will stand by any man who symbolizes their cause and their pursuit of justice. Even if the man dies, the struggle continues, and like the Ekumeku warriors, the children will pick up the baton from their parents.

This is the Igbo I know, the Igbo I am, and the Igbo we are. This is my story. Feel free to tell yours.


"My boy, may you live to your full potential, ascend to a dizzy height as is possible for anyone of your political description in your era to rise. May you be acknowledged world-wide as you rise as an eagle atop trees, float among the clouds, preside over the affairs of fellow men.... as leaders of all countries pour into Nigeria to breathe into her ear.

But then, Chuba, if it is not the tradition of our people that elders are roundly insulted by young men of the world, as you have unjustly done to me, may your reign come to an abrupt and shattering close. As you look ahead, Chuba, as you see the horizon, dedicating a great marble palace that is the envy of the world, toasted by the most powerful men in the land, may the great big hand snatch it away from you. Just as you look forward to hosting the world’s most powerful leader and shaking his hands, as you begin to smell the recognition and leadership of the Igbo people, may the crown fall off your head and your political head fall off your shoulders.

None of my words will come to pass, Chuba, until you have risen to the very height of your power and glory and health, but then you will be hounded and humiliated and disgraced out of office, your credibility and your name in tatters forever...”


Biafra Videos: Explosive secret about Biafra...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Featured Post


Topics: Mindset of the enemy. Yoruba were in world's best universities when Usman dan fodio was still learning to ride a horse Th...