Now this is a worrying situation, especially if you’re Ibo and reading this. Look around and you’ll notice we are slowly becoming an endangered species, not only from targeted attacks, but also gradual decline of all things Igbo. The Igbo language is dying, if not dead, think am lying? How perfect is your Igbo? I can safely bet that more than half of the Ibos born after the 70s don’t speak a perfect Igbo dialect. It’s even worse with those born in the 90s and beyond; who speak little or no Igbo at all. We prefer instead to speak a blend of English and Igbo (engligbo) or just plain english without an understanding of the merest of words like ‘bia’.
Okay if I haven’t tickled your fancy yet answer me this; what is the Igbo person’s identity? What would differentiate an ibo man from a hausa man? The hausas have their jallabia and Kaftan and the yorubas have their buba, the ibo man wears his red cap and feather (nowadays you only see these attires on special occasions) but you realize the ibo woman has nothing that seperates her from her counter parts.
It’s only in the ibo circle where you’ll find a kid who has no inkling where he’s from and gives no damn about it.
The renowned author Chinua Achebe once gave an hour lecture at UNN; Nssuka, in pure, unadulterated Igbo, without mincing it with English; which is not an easy feat. An igbo adage says proverbs are kolanuts with which you eat words, how many times do use them? As a matter of fact, how many proverbs do you know? Seriously this is appalling. Okay, it’s a norm that in Igbo traditional marriages for the bride to present her husband to be with a cup of palm wine as a sign she has chosen her from a hoard of others. But as harmless as that practise is, some Igbo people have decided to abuse that by instead presenting Eva wine! For what now?! They do it for religious reasons I am made to understand, but I don’t think a sip of wine will get you drunk or will it anger the Lord; heaven’s sake Jesus drank wine! The Nze and Ozo title were exclusive reserve of men who had contributed positively to their communities, but nowadays, any Tom, Dick and Harry can get a conferment if he knows whose palms to grease! Ever seen an Alhaji who has never been to Mecca? To realize the extent of this damage, turn on your DSTV and scroll through the channels, you’ll find channels dedicated to Hausa and Yoruba movies, but none for the movies of the Igbo genre! And why is this? DSTV said there wasn’t enough contents to warrant a dedicated channel! What?!!!! Is it funny? The Igbo man started the film business in Nigeria, commercially that is. NEK productions. The people who brought such movies as Living in Bondage, Evil passion, Diet of lies and all in Igbo. What of block buster movies like Rattle snake, Ikuku, Ononikpo. But these movies were in the 90’s, but you find today, that despite that the fact that a large percentage of Nollywood practitioners are of the Igbo tribe that Igbo movies are not in vogue! But thank God they are making a gradual resurgence! Whew!!!!
Most of our valuable traditions have either being discarded or hold no relevance anymore, which is why a young man would look an elderly man older than his father and insult him. The igbo tribe is a large and diverse tribe and is maybe too independent for it’s on good, how do you explain the fact that there are more kings in the igbo nation than in any of the other two major tribes of Nigeria. How many of our traditions and cultures still hold value till date, surely a few and those too have been tainted one way or the other. Something should be done in earnest to curb the fast decline of the igbo language and the ibo man himself or a day will come when someone will say, ‘there used to be an igbo tribe’ or I’m the last of the igbo people.
I pause here to catch a breather. To be continued.