Ndigbo should reunite to rescue its language from extinction, save their culture and tradition ……Maazi Damian Offornagoro

Maazi Damian Offornagoro,  is a Business Executive and chairman Board of Directors, Communio Sanctorum Ministry International, Awka.
He was unhappy with the relegation of Igbo Language , culture and tradition which the UNESCO Predicted would go into extinction by 2050 and expressed his views on ways out of the dilemma. ODOGWU EMEKA ODOGWU witnessed the interaction and brings this report. EXCERPTS:

What do you think that the Igbo lack that needs to be addressed to get things better in Igbo land?

Igbos are not united. Unity of purpose is a major problem in Igbo land. They like acting independently and that is so bad. Secondly, Igbo people are at the verge of losing their identity as a nation.
It is very wrong and that is the worst of it all. Despite how enlightened and educated a Yoruba man might be, even if he is a Professor, you still see him speak Yoruba language in the midst of his Yoruba brethren even if he is in the midst of other professors, you see him speak their language properly. They are very proud of their language.
The only time you see them speak English language is when they are in the midst of people from other tribes to prove that they are indeed an academic Professor but it’s not like that among the Igbo.

The most painful is that the younger generation in Igbo land, the newly married, they don’t believe at all in promotion of Igbo language and culture. To them, speaking Igbo language to their children is a taboo, even in their homes. There are some children who were reared and bred in Igbo land here that don’t understand any bit of Igbo language, yet their parents are Igbos. So, it is very unfortunate that Igbo language is at the verge of going into extinct as predicted by UNESCO BY 2050 and it’s not a good signal.

There is unhealthy rivalry and battle for supremacy among the Igbo elites. The educated are claiming to be better off than the uneducated and vice versa and that is part of the division I earlier talked about.

Is there any traditional way of promoting personal hygiene in Igboland of old, that is no longer in vogue that you want authorities to reintroduce?

There are ways of keeping the environment clean in those days that are no longer in vogue.  Now people depend largely on ANSEPA and ASWAAMA, forgetting that cleanliness starts from home. Any parent that has children ought to teach them from that tender age, how to sweep rooms and stair case and how to keep the environment clean. That is informal education which parents are no longer paying attention to. Cleanliness is part of Igbo culture and it’s a good thing that is worthy of emulation.
In those days, we have something like catchment pits where we dispose waste and when it is filled up, we dug another one. It is also a way of environmental check. In some places, it takes up to ten years to fill a particular pit and such pit draws up flood water and with that, there is no much environmental havoc occasioned by flood water.
It helps to check erosion and other environmental hazards. That was why we had minimal erosion then. Today, if such idea comes up, nobody will allow such to be done in his compound. Selfishness and quest for money is our major problem in this part of the world.

Christianity seems to have relegated Igbo culture to the background, what is your take on that?

That is exactly what I am saying that Ndi Igbo no longer have culture that binds them together. Our dress code, diet and value system have all been greatly influenced by western culture and as a result, things like masquerading, are today seen as heathen agenda.

Today, who is talking about traditional wrestling that used to be our exalted cultural value? Bad people got wind of it and spoilt the culture through their behaviors and attitude. The same way that our traditional festivities were ruined was same way they discarded our dress code. If you see a Yoruba or Hausa man now, it will be easier for you to identify the person even an Igbo man dresses in Hausa and Yoruba attire, thereby promoting their culture.

The only part of Igbo extraction that dresses properly in Igbo attire are Arochukwu people from Abia State. So I am calling on all Igbos to unite and promote Igbo culture. I thank Bishop Obinna of Owerri Archdiocese for introducing a cultural lecture series in 1996 called, Odenigbo lecture series. It is an Igbo cultural renaissance in the mould of what Very Rev. Fr. Prof. BonaChristus Umeogu is doing with his Igbo Village and Center for African Civilization (IVACAC) where he is a Director at Unizik , the Ohazurume Igbo lecture series and his instituted annual colloquium on Igbo Renaissance.

Can we say that certain ailments crept into Igbo land because they abandoned their local diets and went for junk foods?

No doubt, that is the major reason why our life span is shortened. We no longer eat those things we were known for. Our fore fathers stayed longer because they patronize our local foods and those local foods are on their own, highly medicinal.
In those days, Nze and Ozo title holders don’t eat fufu ‘Akpu’.  What they eat is cocoyam and plantain that were pounded together, we call it ‘Utara Osa’ Anybody that eats such delicacy are seen as wealthy people and its very nutritious. During famine, they eat foods that were preserved during the bounty. It is unfortunate we abandoned our local foods and our people did not believe again in traditional medicine, they believed that all traditional healers are evil but in those days, there are some who specialize in roots and herbs, if they give you any medicine, you will be well.
Examples of such people are Rev Father Raymond Arazu and Father Bonachristus Umeogu. Bona’s drugs are magical in healing. They know roots and herbs. If I fall sick of malaria, I usually take orthodox medicine and each time I take that, I regain myself. So, I beg our people to desist from discrediting our traditional medicine practitioners and some of them that indulge in evil act should also abstain from that.

How can you access the recent gathering at Communo Sanctorum ministry for Fr Bona’s Golden Jubilee birthday and a Colloquium?

It was commendable. Fr Boma proved to people that he is a true son of Igbo land. He called other Professors, his students and staff of his faculty in UNIZIK and other friends. The leadership of Ohaneze Ndigbo, political office holders were all there in their numbers. They addressed so many issues on how Igbo identities can be restored.

And at this juncture, let me call on our people from Igbo extraction to unite irrespective of our party affiliations. For in unity we find strength. If we unite and remain consistent with restructuring Nigeria and Biafra, we must surely get one of them. Let us unite to get our right in Nigeria, Igbo has the highest culture in the whole world.

In what ways do you think that Fr Bona is beneficial to people?

Fr. Bona is a great man of God. He trades where people fear to step in. He is complete in his priesthood and he is beneficial to so many people. He helps people a lot both in physical and spiritual ways. God is using him to save a lot of souls. May God continue to keep him for us.

Ndigbo should reunite to rescue its language from extinction, save their culture and tradition ……Maazi Damian Offornagoro Ndigbo should reunite to rescue its language from extinction, save their culture and tradition ……Maazi Damian Offornagoro   Reviewed by Unknown on Monday, July 16, 2018 Rating: 5

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