The Igbo language is the language identified with the southeastern people of Nigeria, it represents the cultural value of the Igbo tribe. It is estimated that over 20 million people speak the language and that it has about 20 dialects.
The variety in their dialects makes the language all the more appealing. For many years, before the inception of the English language, Igbo was the sole means and language of communication between our forefathers.
However, there are many schools of thought that believe this language to be slowly going into extinction. UNESCO stated that in 2050, the language would no longer be in existence.
While this statement spurred many of the people of the tribe to refute such claims and tag them as insults. One does wonder if these claims are true or not.
The first thing that comes to mind when we talk about the extinction of the Igbo language is the British Colonization. It was their coming that changed everything for us and while they did bring a lot of developments, some of our traditions were better left unchanged.
The colonization brought with it the English language, the language was so ingrained in us so much so that a lot of us refused to speak our language but preferred to speak the English language. During the colonization era, the English language was used to separate the wealthy from the poor individuals, it was used as a mark of the learned ones while the people who spoke the Igbo language were regarded as destitute.
Fast forward to many years later and nothing much seems to have changed. In the world of today, if you cannot communicate fluently in the English language, you are regarded as an illiterate. This mindset has made many people abandon the Igbo language and look towards earning the English language.
Parents and schools have also contributed to this problem in that the parents do not teach their children to speak Igbo. Schools make the Igbo language optional. Now, this could be optional for non-Igbo indigenes but it should be compulsory for the indigenes. If they do not learn their language, who will?
Even though the major cause of this whole problem is colonization, we cannot turn back the hands of time and so we cannot undo colonization but what we can do is to encourage parents to ensure that the Igbo language is ingrained in their kids from home.
When they leave the house, they can always speak the English language with people from different tribes but they should try as much as possible to ensure that Igbo is the central language at home.
The Igbo language has stood the test of time for over 100 years but that does not mean it is impossible for it to go extinct.
We should always keep in mind that even if every one of our cultural values are eradiated by foreigners, the Igbo language should always be at the tips of our tongues for it is our identity and we should always take great pride in speaking it wherever we go!!!