Orlu Town USA: case for an African Center for Cultural & Educational Enrichment
Umunne m na umunna m, the need for an Igbo Center is urgent and cannot be overemphasized. The urgency calls for an immediate action and Orlu Town USA (OTU) is prepared to open up one of such centers with your support. In case you are not aware, Igbo language is reportedly headed for extinction as early as next two decades. Like other concerned Igbos, Robert O. Okere, Ike Chime in Finland and Geoffrey Anyanwu are worried that UNESCO is reporting that Igbo language is under serious threat of extinction in the foreseeable future or as early as 15 years. Mr. Anyanwu is rightly more worried over lackadaisical attitude with which the Igbos have handled the varnishing language and culture. Something substantial has to be done immediately before the UNESCO timing sneaks up on us. Moreover, agha akaraka adigh eri ngworo.
Additionally, we need to pay attention to a Utah linguistics professor, Lyle Campbell that languages not being learned by children are not just endangered, they’re doomed. In his Agents of Progress or Problem-makers, Herbert Igboanusi traced Igbo as a national indigenous language which serves as a regional lingua franca of natives of southeastern states of Nigeria including Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo as well as some parts of Delta and Rivers states. Unfortunately, it is concerning to know that most Igbo children being raised outside the identified southeastern states cannot speak the language. This situation will definitely prompt Churchill Okonkwo’s type of question; can we become ndiIgbo without speaking Igbo?
There is a lesson on the observation of Susan V. Gallagher and John Mwazemba in “speak your mother tongue with pride”. They observed that “Things Fall Apart, one of the world’s greatest novels has been translated into more than 30 languages but not in Igbo, the author’s mother tongue? It is my humble opinion that Igbo version of the novel will not be a bad idea as a boost for our dying language.
It will not be a bad idea as well for all the Igbos anywhere to be proud of our mother tongue. I salute Princess Iphe who began some work already through her Igbo Amaka Project and Apples of Gold. Let us be proud of our mother tongue like Olaudah Equiano, an Igbo man who was sold into slavery. He fought to keep his Igbo roots alive. He spelt his name as Olaudah Equiano even when his slave masters called him Gustavus Vassa. He was a great Igbo man and one of the most eminent sons of black race. He was referred as the father of Black Literature (Acholonu-Olumba, 2007).
In the face of the dying Igbo language and seriously eroding culture, it will be a sin to do nothing. How do we explain it to our future generations that our language and culture disappeared on our watch? There is no iota of doubt in my mind that our fore-fathers will not forgive us and generations to come will blame us forever if we fail to save the language and culture.
On behalf of Igbo children and Igbo pride therefore, we ask for your support in our effort to acquire a site for an African Center for Cultural and Educational Enrichment program:
- Where we will have room to expand our Igbo language and cultural programs to children of Igbo parents and interested others in the Los Angeles area, USA
- To serve as a venue where Igbo children and their friends will have access to services on survival/life skills, gang prevention and related services while keeping them actively involved in activities towards academic excellence.
- Which will also serve as a link between Igbo people everywhere as well as a resource center on African matters.
- That will provide respite and day care for children of our hardworking parents.
- Which will serve as a venue for quality multigenerational interaction between visiting Nigerians and children of Nigerian parents
We assure you that your contribution will not be in vain.
As we pray to God to bless you abundantly for your anticipated generous support, we have the same prayer for those who may wish to support with their widow’s mite. Please, you may make your contributions at www.orlutownusa.com or contact us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bosco O.I. Ofoegbu (Chairman OTU 2008 Convention)