Why We Established Centre For Igbo Studies— UNN VC | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Why We Established Centre For Igbo Studies— UNN VC

Posted: Sep 30, 2015 at 12:42 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Emmanuel Nzomiwu


The Igbo language and culture had been said to be on the verge of extinction. Many parents prefer to communicate with their children in English, thus the language and tradition is not transmitted to the younger generation orally or practically.

However, this may not be for long. There is hope in the horizon to save the Igbo language and tradition from annihilation.  The University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) has established a Centre for Igbo Studies to promote Igbo language and culture.

Cross-section of guests at the ISA National Conference /General Meeting.

Cross-section of guests at the ISA National Conference /General Meeting.

The Vice-chancellor Professor Benjamin Ozumba who made the disclosure at the 9th National Conference /General Meeting of Igbo Studies Association (ISA), hosted by the Nsukka main campus of the university said that it was because of the importance the university attached to promotion of Igbo language and culture that it established Centre for Igbo Studies.

He said the aim of the Centre would employ the best global practice to make it a Centre of excellence where the world would fall back in any aspect of Igbo studies, research and documentations.

“I have no doubt that burning issues on the Igbo philosophy, politics religion, culture, tradition and other issues pertaining to Igbo identity and its role through its oral literature will be robustly discussed,” Professor Ozumba said.

Delivering a lecture at the conference with the theme: ‘Igbo Oral Literature: Challenges and Prospects,’ a university don from Anambra State University Igbariam Campus, Sam Uzochukwu, expressed disappointment with how moonlight games and folktales were gradually becoming  things of the past in Igboland.

Uzochukwu said that it was unfortunate that moonlight games and folk-tales in Igboland, that created opportunity for older people to teach younger ones the rich culture and tradition, had disappeared and people now preoccupied themselves with watching television and western movies at night.

“What we see today is a situation where both the old and young glue to their TV sets either watching programmes or films. Nobody remembers anything about moonlight games and folktales.

“This is why some children commit abominable acts because nobody teaches them what is good and what is bad,” he said.

Uzochukwu who majored on Igbo Oral Poetry, urged upcoming researchers on Igbo language and culture to focus on how to resuscitate the Igbo oral literature rather than copying textbooks just to repeat already existing research work.

“Upcoming researchers on Igbo language and culture should not copy from internet and textbooks, but find a means of finding solution to problem facing Igbo oral literature” he said.

Uzochukwu regretted that churches unfortunately, were not helping matters as they brand every traditional burial as well as masquerade dance as fetish, thereby giving a serious blow to efforts to resuscitate Igbo cultural heritage.

In his remarks, the National President of ISA, Prof Emmanuel Emenanjo, said that this year marked the 10th anniversary of the association but the conference was the 9th national conference as there was no conference in 2013, following the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) national strike.

Emenanjo urged governments in the South-East states to make Igbo language compulsory in secondary schools and a prerequisite for gaining admission into tertiary institutions in the zone.

“Governments in South-East should do something serious to promote the Igbo language and culture,” he said

Emenanjo equally urged parents to endeavour to teach their children Igbo language or be ready one day when the child would ask them their origin.

“For the fact your child is dressing like a white man does not make him a white man. Your child who is in Lagos and speaks Yoruba fluently does not make him or her Yoruba. One day a circumstance will force him to ask you: “where do I come from?”

Emenanjo urged all stakeholders to join hands to ensure that Igbo Oral Literature was revived.

Earlier, the Director of Centre for Igbo Studies, Prof Gabriella Nwaozuzu said the coming of colonial masters in Nigeria destroyed the rich tradition and culture of Igbo.

According to Nwaozuzu, before the advent of colonial masters, brothers were brother’s keepers in Igbol and young people respected elders by obeying constituted authorities.

  “You hardly heard of armed robbery, rape or kidnap which has become order of the day today,” she said.

Nwaozuzu said the centre would be effectively used to promote Igbo language and culture so as to restore the rich cultural heritage of Ndigbo.