Prof Anezi Okoro worries about dying Igbo language

An Octogenarian and writer, Prof Anezi Okoro has expressed fears about the Igbo language going extinct in the hands of the present generation.

Okoro, 89, made the disclosure at an end of year party organized by the Coal City Literary Forum (CCLF) in Enugu on Wednesday.

The octogenarian, who is also the first dermatologist in West Africa regretted that parents of these days no longer communicate with their children in Igbo language. The author of `One Week, One Trouble’ noted that parents also frowned at the language being spoken to their children by others. According to him, in our time, the language was the safest means of communication when one found themselves in the midst of strangers. Okoro, also the board chairman of the forum, used the occasion to announce the publication of his book entitled, `Akuko Ufodu Shakespeare Koro’ a translation of 10 William Shakespeare’s stories in Igbo language.

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The Octogenarian said the book was aimed at enriching Igbo literature and availing lovers of the Igbo language with an opportunity to enjoy the tales of Shakespeare in a language they were at home with. “My wish is to see this book published before I depart from this planet. By God’s grace, I will launch it to the public on my 90th birthday in May, 2019,’’ he said.

In her remarks, the President of CCLF, Dr Adaobi Nwoye said the group would henceforth add Igbo literature in its monthly reading sessions to promote the language.

Nwoye blamed parents for not promoting the language for their children rather they paid huge amount for them to learn foreign languages. “Some parents pay hugely for their children to learn Chinese, French and Russian languages but will not even speak their mother tongue to them.

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“This is not peculiar to Igbos but Nigerians in general,’’ she said. The CCLF president promised to mobilize other literary groups in the South East to find ways of promoting the language. She also said the forum would do its best to ensure the launch of Prof Okoro’s book next year. The state Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Comrade Zulu Ofoelue commended CCLF for organizing the event and promised to partner with it to promote declining reading culture in the country. According to Ofoelue, it is worrisome that reading culture has degenerated to the lowest level and it is even worse that prolific writers are neither recognised by the academia and the society in general. The event featured readings from some of the professor’s books. (NAN)