THE CHALLENGES AND ACCEPTABILITY OF IGBO LANGUAGE – CHIJIOKE NGOBILI

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Less than 24 hours ago, I have been drawn to two Facebook threads by some of our Igbo brethren. The comments/replies, as stupid as they are, tell an instructive lot about the state of our some of our people’s psychology.

1. Some Igbo persons faulted and rebuked that Olusegun Obasanjo (Nigeria’s former P) and Yemi Osibajo (Nigeria’s VP) were exchanging pleasantries in Yorùbá at an international event amidst other persons that encircled the two celebrities. They called it “unofficial”, “lack of manners, lack of etiquette”, “primordial”. Actually, they legislate that, so long it’s an official outing, there’s no reason a “vernacular” (also their word) should be spoken or brought into the mix. They also assert that pleasantries, no matter how cordial, should be done in English as to appear “civilized” using the “lingua franca” of Nigeria.

I remember that before the war, Igbo dominated almost every sector in the newly independent Nigeria. Speaking our language to and with ourselves anywhere and anyday was never negotiable. Even Chimamanda Adichie represented this phenomenon in her HOAYS when a certain man was discussing about the Igbo with either Ọlanna or Kainene at an airport not knowing she’s one. Again, check out Igbo people who were born and bred in the North and Southwest of Nigeria between 1950 and 1965, they were almost as good and fluent in Igbo as their counterparts in Igbo land because their parents proudly raised them with it, unlike the ones born after the war in same areas. Just after the war had ended in the 1970 — with such Igbo-cementing and Ụmụnna-like structures nationwide as Igbo State Union dismantled and quashed early before the war — our people began to slide into inferiority complex. By year 2000, it was already full blown inferiority and that thread revealed it to me. Igbo people — who constitute one of the three major ethnic forces in Nigeria — are now offended, like minorities, that Yorùbá VIPs exchanged pleasantries in Yorùbá. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. That’s some of the most inferior silliness I have ever seen recently. And I told them that. I expressed that “we lack political strength yet want to lack cultural strength too”. I added that since we are too deep in the disease of inferiority complex by making sure our children spoke and wrote good English but not Igbo, we’re bound to relegate ourselves to minorities by feeling offended when a robust culture, serious with its heritage, dangles its language before us.

2. Another comment by an Igbo woman on another thread rebuffed the advocacy for teaching diaspora Igbo children the writing and speaking of Igbo. It stated there was no need for that because the children are never going to come back to Nigeria and that there’s nothing to do with Igbo; that the children should rather use the time for learning Igbo to rather learn STEM and all. The lady forgot that Indians, Chinese and other Asians leading the world of tech today — (better than most others in so-called STEM knowledge) — have the most home-conscious children in the US and UK more than other people. Their children are so fluent in their indigenous languages that you’d think they weren’t born and bred outside of their origins. Even Yorùbá in UK have such a good grip on their cultural appurtenances that you’d think the children were born and raised in Nigeria. In sum, the comment was very dumb and revealed one from a very low background who found ‘life’s greatest fortune’ by being in America. It is not difficult to see that behind most Igbo who are apathetic about the Igbo cultural heritage are people from very wretched, low and unknown backgrounds when properly traced. All boiling to inferiority complex. Some of us have reduced themselves mentally to feeling like minorities when they’re in the majority. Such a shameful contrast!

While these Igbo rant, Yorùbá people are sparing nothing to push their language with all the might and force they have caring about nobody’s feelings. They have taken the so-called “vernacular” (British word for looking down on African language) to the STEM. Yorùbá is now used in coding digits in the tech world. See pictures in the comment section (couresty of Emmanuel Arua Kalu).

 

 

 

CHIJIOKE NGOBILI

 

 

Again, check out Igbo people who were born and bred in the North and Southwest of Nigeria between 1950 and 1965, they were almost as good and fluent in Igbo as their counterparts in Igbo land because their parents proudly raised them with it, unlike the ones born after the war in same areas. Just after the war had ended in the 1970 — with such Igbo-cementing and Ụmụnna-like structures nationwide as Igbo State Union dismantled and quashed early before the war — our people began to slide into inferiority complex. By year 2000, it was already full blown inferiority and that thread revealed it to me. Igbo people — who constitute one of the three major ethnic forces in Nigeria — are now offended

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