By Cyriacus Nnaji
Nze Henry Dim, President General of Akpo Development Association has expressed support for the use of Igbo language at homes and gatherings of Ndigbo anywhere in the world.
He also maintained that the excessive indulgence in the use of English language has destroyed the fabrics of Igbo language and culture.
Nze Dim made the assertions at the press briefing/United Nations Mother Tongue Day celebration hosted by Ekwe Kuo Amagbaa, an Igbo language Newspaper, and powered by Igbo Women Forum at Ohanaeze Lagos Office at Robertson Street, Surulare, Lagos recently.
He said the use of English has deprived the people of the rich nuances of the Igbo language, making it impossible for the people to have some form of privacy both at home and in the public.
He said “This discussion about Igbo language is good; it is as though it is organized for me. I told the convener that my anger against my people is we exhibit an attitude of knowing more than those we learn English from. Like the Yorubas, no matter how learned they are they still speak their language, be it in their families, church, you will not here ‘come’, they speak Yoruba throughout.”
He also blamed the church in Igbo land, which uses English to deliver their messages to their congregation. “The problem we have is the reverend fathers, pastors, even this one room churches, they speak English as though they are better than the English. But when you complain to our people they don’t understand.”
He said using the Igbo language makes for better understanding. “We speak today and we understand ourselves because of the language that binds us together. But if I am speaking Igbo and you are speaking English, I don’t understand you, neither do you understand me. And this has become an intractable problem in Igbo land.”
He said he won the position of the President General of his town because there was general agreement that the so called educated people have for so many times swindled the community due to excessive use of English.
“When I was contesting the position of president of out town, Doctors and Professors came out, academia, they all came out, but we agree that it is been long these people have used us and dumped us, we don’t want them again. We contribute money and they would use biro, and waste it, no project, nothing to show; when you come to meetings, they would be reading it, and you would ask, where are the projects? But an illiterate would come and say I want to embark on this particular programme, and he would do it passionately and with dedication.”
While commending President of Ohanaeze Lagos, Chief (Dr) Solomon Ogbonna, for his leadership qualities said pleaded with the conveners and supporters of the meeting to continue to promote Igbo language and culture “So I plead with the organizers of this Igbo programme to continue in this spirit, let your spirit not go down. If Igbo language is sustained our communities will witness tremendous progress. What is destroying our growth and development is too much English, let us tell ourselves the truth. The major reason the Igbo land is not seeing development is too much grammar. If you go to London, there is a Yoruba Street; they speak Yoruba, the same thing in US.
“My worry is that you would see a stark illiterate because he came to the township, he would be speaking nothing other than English, where you have ‘come’, he would put ‘was’. If somebody visits you, you cannot talk to your child to maintain confidentiality.
“Any time I travel home I speak Igbo with my father. There is a proverb my father would make I would discharge my visitors, because I understood what he meant, with that proverb he has told me that the situation is not conducive, I will call off the meeting. But if you tell them tha my father said this meeting will not hold, they will look at my father with hatred. In the olden days it is proverb that the fathers employed to communicate with their children.” Dim asserted.
He said our people brought the church and used it to destroy the fabrics of our culture. “We no longer understand tradition of our land.”
He said support for Igbo language must be encouraged “I strongly believe that the support for Igbo language and culture is a project that should be taken seriously, on my part any meeting I am organising in my town is done in Igbo language. If you want to speak English, I will take the microphone from you. If you go to America, speak English but once we gather as a town, please speak Igbo, it is good to do so. When brothers gather, they should use the Igbo language to communicate.”