Culture can simply be put or described as a totality of people’s way of life including their language, culture, arts, tradition, religions, beliefs, mode of dressing, marriages, funerals and so on. A group or a society of human beings can be best identified by their language and culture hence it can be rightly adduced that a group without a language or culture is non-existent or without identity and already extinct.
It is in this wise that most nations of the world are trying hard to preserve
both their language and/or culture, like the English, Chinese, the Irish, the
Arabs and Afrikans. Here in Nigeria, there are more than 120 ethnic tribes
and languages with three predominant ones, Yoruba, Hausa/Fulani and
Igbo. In recent years, it has been severally observed and recorded that
Igbo language and culture will go extinct hence the new renaissance and
campaign or crusade for the revival of the Igbo language with their culture
for the fear of loss of identity.
Dr. Aggrey of Ghana was once quoted as saying that, he who is not proud of his colour is not fit to live and a popular musician of the sixties once wrote the song “l am black and proud”. Most Nigerians especially the women are ashamed to be described as black and so spend fortunes to change their colours from black to white, brown or yellow, whereas most white species save some of their fortunes to travel to sunny Africa just to tan.
Some goes with the Africa languages of which one of the endangered African languages spotted to be going extinct is the Igbo. Several institutions and personalities have been on the vanguard of reviving Igbo language or culture led by Arch Bishop A.J.V Obinna, which project prompted the establishment of Ahiajioku lectures by late Governor Sam Mbakwe and now the Odenigbo lectures by A.J.V Obinna. Recently there was an Igbo competition sponsored by Bishop George Njoku, in line with this objective.
Inspite of these efforts by patriotic Igbos, it is unfortunate that most elites of the modern times especially among the new class of men of God are not at home with Igbo language, culture and tradition. Most of our culture are tagged or referred to as paganisic, primitive or adulations and should be abrogated or abandoned.
As a matter of fact and as recorded in the first Ahiajioku lecture delivered by Prof. M.J.C Eeheruo with the theme ; “Ahamefula the revival, adoption, control, usage of Igbo language, culture or tradition. It is “a matter of identity”. A man is known by his name indentified by his language, culture and behavioural pattern.
We should be proud of our language, our special types or modes of dressing especially to our youths. We have to be adapted to our various lifestyles which include peculiar hair style, fashions and types of make-ups.
There are several types of cultural dances where by the Igbos, were known in the past. We are aware that the language, culture and tradition as well as their mode of feeding and religion are marks of identity. Unless and until we are proud and make remarkable, resolute effort to get back to our roots, we shall in no distant time lose our identity as a people with common destiny. For instance, the Igbos are known to be resilient, resolute, hardworking, God-fearing with honesty and truth as our symbol or watch word and not crime. Common self or community effort is part of our culture and identity, communism or “Igwebuike”.
There is no doubt that the elite class and the well to do in our clime and in diaspora are not helping matters as most of them even as Christians claim to be hollier than the Pope, hence they feel shy or ashamed to be identified as Igbos by language, culture, behavior and character. Most Igbo families arrogantly and with pride tell a visitor to their homes that their children do not speak or understand Igbo but they are flippant with Hausa or Yoruba and are experts in some foreign languages especially English while some others can conveniently pass as French citizens from either Cameroon, Niger or Cotonu.
This accounts for the low registration in our public schools where Igbo is taught among the school subjects as most Igbo families have that Illusion that anyone who can speak or converse in queens English is the only one educated, we have not asked what language the French, Chinese, Russians or Turks and Arabians use in all their sciences and technology.
Since we are good copy cats, we should borrow a leaf from our other neighbours in the South West of Yoruba land and some sections of Northern states predominantly among the Hausa and Fulanis. The need to revive and embrace our culture, language and tradition come at no other better time than now that an Igboman seems to be an unwanted, endangered specie in many climes as a result of borrowed, foreign language, culture and behaviours. Let us join the train of Bishop George Njoku, Arch Bishop A.J.V Obinna, Igbo Department of Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Imo Ministry of Arts and Culture, to ensure that our language, culture and identify do not go extinct from the surface of the earth.