Ndigbo are avid travelers who settle easily and peacefully in their host communities, especially, in Nigeria and other parts of Africa carrying out their trades. They are republican in nature and industrious in businesses. Their flexibility help them to adapt quite effortlessly to other cultures and that probably accounts for the phenomenal rates of success they record in most ventures they get involved in.
The Igbo culture has brought much to enrich the world, including United States of America. The Igbo Village in Stautum, Virginia, USA is a great testament of the industry and ingenuity of Ndigbo even in adverse conditions of bondage in slavery. Every "Onye Igbo" should take a pilgrimage to Stautum, Virginia to witness, first hand, how Igbo slaves took leadership roles to shape America.
Ndigbo believe strongly in individual's ability to improve one's status in the present world through change. They too believe in reincarnation though in lower proportions as most of them are now of the Christian faith. Arguably they make up the largest group of Christians within the whole continent of Africa as evidenced in the appointment of one of them, Bishop Arinze, a cardinal in the Catholic church. In literary work, Ndigbo are proud of their illustrious son, Chinua Achebe, whose legendary book, “Things Fall Apart” have been translated and published in more than fifty three languages of the world.
Ndigbo have a rich and unique indigenous language not spoken anywhere else in the world. Some think the language is one of the hardest to learn based on numerous variations and idiomatic expressions needed for competence and mastery.
With heavy cultural roots directed at change for the better, Ndigbo seem to be just as diverse as the changing language they speak. Physically, it is hard to distinguish an Igbo on the basis of features alone. But one consensus is that Ndigbo are considered nice looking. Many stretch it that their men stand out as handsome, while their females are stunningly attractive (Asamkpete nwaanyị ọma or omalicha ụmụ nwaanyị). The beauty of their womenfolk extends to the cognitive realm as most of them are qualified professionals supporting heavily in catering for their families. There is hardly any field of endeavor you won't find them. They abound in Accountancy, Administration, Education, Medicine, Legal practice , Pharmacy, Nursing, Sciences, Entrepreneuring, Entertainment, and Acting. Ever heard about NollyWood? They drive the industry.p
Generally speaking the degree to which one's native tongue disintegrates or is disregarded or taken for granted tends to vary from place to place. In most conservative or culturally close-knit societies of the world, the degree is minimal. However, in most liberal societies, such as, the Igbo society, the degree is exponential and manifests itself in an insatiable quest for knowledge and acceptance of foreign cultures and life style.
Since the early 1970s, the rate at which Ndigbo are being rapily detached from their rich native tongue and culture is alarming. This trend may be rooted in colonial brainwashing, along with deep rooted self pity being suffered as a result of loosing in a civil war. Unfortunately, rather than fighting against practices which are unjust to their rich heritage and forward looking way of life, Ndigbo now tend to encourage the perpetuation of cultural imperialism amongst themselves. This must be discouraged as nothing can be more injurious for a race than the abandonment of the key distinguishing element of their culture: native language. Now, for instance, we know as Christian mothers and fathers that there is no truth in the teaching that we can only make heaven through adoption and fronting of colonial Christian names, does it really help swallowing such instructions anymore? Why must we substitute Iyke for such a praiseworthy name as Ikechukwu. As if mangling the names and adopting false heaven- bound names are not enough, authentic Igbo names of towns and villages that were deliberately mispelt to suit the colonialists still remain today without any political or cultural challenge to revert to their originality. Worthy of mention are Ọka" that became Awka, Igbo became Ibo, Igboụzọ that became Ibusa and Enugwu meaning the top of a mountain became Enugu.
With this trend escalating, one is forced to begin to wonder what the effect of the extinction of Igbo language will be on Igbo-American or Igbo-Europeans. For sure, it is going to be devastating. The confusion is heightened by the fact that even the Igbo children living in cities in Nigeria do not speak or understand Igbo language, let alone the culture. Posterity will judge Ndigbo who can survive adversities, including acquisition of impeccable academic accolades from foreign countries, but cannot fight to stop their wards born outside Igbo land from losing their identities.
In hindsight, if Latin which enriched science and English language could suffer extinction, it is safe to assume that the death of Igbo language and culture is right at the corner. "Tufịakwa!" Ndigbo cannot afford to let that happen or we are toast!!
To reverse the direction, a radical movement is needed. It must start from the individual Igbo families where ever they may be to complement the strategies of visionary leaders promoting igbo language and culture through laudable scholarship programs in some States in Nigeria, notably Anambra and Imo. We hope other philanthropic Ndigbo should donate handsomely to any entity promoting Igbo Culture and Language. A great starting point is with Native Tongue Academy - www.nativetongueacademy.net
The promotion of Igbo language and culture is the reason Native Tongue Academy set up an Online Igbo language instruction platform in order to assist parents in recharging their bases and channeling them to the collective growth of Igbo culture and unity through a language bridge. Ndigbo owe it to their children who by no fault of theirs are suffocating in cultural "captivity or hostage" in alien customs and values.
The task ahead is not easy and nobody should pretend that the situation will improve on its own without a dedication to hew success out of impending failures. Ndigbo are known to achieve major feats in life. But how can the achievement to speak a language given freely by God Almighty be left to chance? We cannot afford to give up now nor is this a time to bemoan in screams of frustration:"Ewu Chi anyi oh!"; “Chi anyị egbula(egbugo) anyị". The situation demands drastic action and it is now or never. No true chief executive folds his hands watching his customer base erode without action. Every hunter who fails to adjust his shooting style when the game becomes dodgy will go home without anything in his backpack. Umuigbo, wake up!
Ndigbo should reshape their priorities for the rededication to the immense task of bolstering the cultural beliefs and language to the emerging first generation of Ndigbo, especially now that the "Old Brigade" is waning. Armed with strong cultural identity and dignity, Igbo children will grow up or mature with a new vigor with ideals and wisdom to thrust them into stellar success levels. Let Ndigbo eschew schism or evasive attitudes that may be detracting to assume "Nwa m ka dị too small (young), imụ Igbo now". The time to give Igbo Children the greatest gift they will ever need to succeed in a competitive world is NOW that we are still breathing. Start today to dress them more in Igbo attire. Play and Dance Igbo music with them. Above all, encourage them with Igbo words such as” Ezi nwa m I bola chi" (Good morning, my child) and "Kedu ka imere?” (How are you?). Reward them with their favorites for each positive stride towards learning Igbo Language and culture because this is an acceptable means of motivating for more results. The responsibility to impact Igbo language to our children squarely rests upon our shoulders. We cannot will it away. If we fail, our children will fail tremendously when we disappear from the surface of the earth.
If our parents studied without electricity and succeeded or if our parents used the chalk board as the writing tablet, what first generation Ndigbo can learn within a twinkle of an eye is unimaginable in this modern era of smart phones and other smart devices! But we must have the required WILL POWER to prod them forward to achieve even higher than us.
Are you ready to lead your children to the right path with the available Online Igbo instructions by Native Tongue Academy? The instruction is family oriented because language as a Natural phenomenon starts first from parents or adult relatives. Children learn to speak by listening to their parents or close adult relatives, much like the proverbial "monkeys see, and monkeys do". The instructions are on 24/7. Therefore, it is both time and money-saving considering that sending the children to Ala-igbo will cost no less than a thousand dollars for travelling cost alone. Also sending a child from the North to South or East to West to learn Igbo language also costs a fortune. But within ten days in this "Igbo Language Online", every family should be able to communicate with each other in Igbo Language. That's our aim and dream.
Please, help us make it happen. Help Ndigbo once again to achieve a lasting "LEGACY" of bequeathing Igbo culture, language and our heritage to Igbo children wherever they may find themselves.
We have done our part by providing "Native Tongue Academy" as your "BRIDGE" to your success. It is your choice to help chart your children to cross the bridge for a fulfilling knowledge and empowerment. They will be proud of you as caring parents. “Nke m diri (dili) m is a great Igbo Name. Ka nke anyị diri(dili) anyị n'aha Ọbasị bi n'elu. ONYE KWE, CHI YAA EKWE!!! Ya gazie.”
Long Live Ndigbo wherever they may live! ONYE KWE, CHI YA EKWEE!!!
[By Mazi Ogbonna ]