first time in recorded history, Igbo language received a boost in Anambra State.
Many things have been said about the language and few years ago, UNESCO and the
Oxford University gave a resounding prophecy that if extra effort is not made,
the Igbo language will go into extinction in less than two decades.
individuals and groups have shown remarkable interest and have gone on a
showdown to revive and turn this prophecy down. Igbo Ga Adi, an offshoot of
IFMA INITIATIVE, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) poised to preserve the
Igbo language and identity, founded by Mr. Ikechukwu Okafor, the NGO took the
giant step especially in the last three years using our children as the tool
for reviving and recovery of the Igbo language and identity.
It should be noted that Okafor hosted Igbo
Children in October 31st 2013 in Abuja and also hosted the International Day of
the African Child in June 2013. In all these, he brought new concepts to make
his efforts work. He introduced essay writing competition in indigenous
language for students in secondary schools in Anambra state.
of entries received ran in thousands as various schools from all zones, nooks
and crannies of the state encouraged their students to be part of it. It also
carried a surprising and mouthwatering package for Igbo teachers and their
respective schools which baffled many. The essence was to help reward
indigenous language teachers on earth and no longer in heaven. The first topic
of the essay was on the importance of language to children and importance of
language and culture to the development of Igbo land. Shortlists of 20 best
written works were selected out of the thousand entries.
April 5 2014, which was not only the award ceremony day, but also a day for a sit-in-writing,
where all the shortlisted students put up a fight for the mouthwatering prizes
on the topics: Effect of road accident to children and reducing the menace of
motor accident, the duty that calls, for junior and senior categories
respectively. The sponsor of the program, Chief Osita Chidoka OFR (Ike Obosi),
Corps Marshal and Chief Executive of Federal Road Safety Commission who doubled
as the founder of Nkemefuna foundation was represented by Mr. Kenneth Nwaegbe,
HPIO of the FRSC.
sit-in-writing narrowed down the names of the best 20 students to 10, 5 from
each category. These students mounted the podium one after another to read
their written essay in the presence of dignitaries among whom were Professor
Pita Ejiofor, former vice chancellor Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Hon.
Commissioner for Local government and chieftaincy matters, Hon. Commissioner
for education represented, Hon. Commissioner for Women Affairs & Social
development represented, HRH Igwe Emmanuel Nnabuife of Isseke Kingdom, Dr.
Chief Mike Ejiofor, Federal Permanent Secretary (rtd), Chairman Post Primary
Schools Service Commission among others. They were all thrilled to see these
students read in Igbo language and were made to agree that Igbo language would
never die. It was time for the judges made up of Professors and experienced
lecturers in Igbo language drawn from the University.
prize winner for the senior category, a student of St Charles College, Onitsha,
and Master Odiakosa Alfred won a cash prize of N100.000, Hundred thousand
Naira, a laptop computer. A big deep freezer for the Igbo teacher. A brand new
set of computer with Igbo key board for the school, Igbo books and notebooks
for the library.
prize winner, Master Okonkwo Benjamin also from St Charles College, Onitsha,
won a cash prize of N65.000 Sixty five thousand Naira, a mini laptop computer.
A medium size deep freezer for the Igbo teacher. A brand new set of computer
with Igbo key board for the school, Igbo books and notebooks for the library.
Prize winner Master Tojah Chidinka of Dennis Memorial Grammar School Onitsha
carted away with cash prize of N50.000 fifty thousand Naira, set of books for
the school a printer and cash of ten thousand Naira to the teacher.
junior category Miss Onyejesi Favor, of Anglican Girls Grammar School, Onitsha
took home a prize of N60.000 sixty thousand Naira, a mini laptop. A deep
freezer for the Igbo teacher. A brand new set of computer with Igbo key
board for the school, Igbo books and notebooks for the library.
Calista , of Queen of Rosary College, Onitsha emerged the second position and
took home N50.000 Fifty thousand Naira. A medium size deep freezer for the Igbo
teacher. A brand new set of computer with Igbo key board for the school, Igbo
books and notebooks for the library.
Uzochukwu Adaeze of Bishop Okoye Memeorial Grammar School, Nnewi clinched the
3rd prize carting away N30.000 Thirty thousand Naira, Ten thousand Naira to the
Igbo teacher, set Igbo books and notebooks for the library.
The 4th and
5th winners in each category received eight and ten thousand Naira each while
the other finalists of 10 received a cash prize of Five thousand Naira each.
Schools present were satisfied with the development and expressed interest in the
promotion of Igbo language to their individual students.
commissioner for education represented by Mrs Ewuzie in her remark praised the
commitment of well-meaning efforts of many Igbo’s in reviving Igbo language and
culture and submitted a promise of partnership which she believed the present
government will be pleased to be part of, she applauded the initiative and
commended the initiator of the annual competition Mr. Ikechukwu Okafor and the
sponsor of the program Mr. Osita Chidoka saying that such noble initiative
should be encouraged and sustained. A day like 5th of April 2014 will remain
alive in the mind of many Igbo children in Anambra states for being rewarded
for their efforts and interests in Igbo language and for the teachers; a new
door of opportunity is opened for them to instill hard work on their students
and to receive their reward while alive on earth.
Enemo, Hon. Comm. For local government and Chieftaincy matters who spoke
directly to Mr. Ikechukwu Okafor the host of the program applauded the concept
of the program, the Honourable Commissioner said that rewarding the students
and their teachers and schools will motivate and encourage teachers to put in
more efforts in teaching of ingenious language.
of the occasion, Dr. Chief Mike Ejiofor in his speech commended the initiator
of the program while stressing on the need for the program to be sustained to
help improve the academic performance of Igbo children in indigenous language,
Ejiofor also said that the program is one that the state government should
encourage and support, he went on to commend the sponsor of the program 'such
selfless and noble gesture is one to be emulated' he said.
Ikechukwu Okafor the initiator and host of the program who doubles as the
Founder of the IFMA INITIATIVE (Igbo ga-ad i) in his speech charged parents and
teachers to wake up to the challenge facing ndigbo, he urged them to consider
issues relating to the sustainability of the Igbo language and identity as a
major priority, Okafor expressed sadness that over 65 percent of Igbos cannot
read or write Igbo language, while over 90 percent cannot hold a 5 minutes
conversation in Igbo language without adding English language, he said this is
because the learning of indigenous language was never encouraged in schools in
the past, he said that for the Igbo language and identity to be revived and
sustained, ndigbo must be proud of being Igbo, proud of the Igbo language and
culture. Okafor said he designed the annual competition in a way that it would
make a huge and positive impact in the lives of the people of the state. It is
sad and discouraging that most stakeholders in Igbo land hardly come forward to
support, sponsor or encourage programs geared towards the good and future of
Igbo race he said, while appreciating in a special way Chief Osita Chidoka OFR
(Ike Obosi) for coming forward to express his love for the good and future of
Igbo race by proudly sponsoring the program.