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2017 Oxford Igbo Union Annual Lecture Calls for Action to Save Igbo Language from Extinction


This year’s Oxford Igbo Union Annual Lecture has been highly praised. The lecture which was titled ‘’Is Igbo Language in Danger of Extinction’’ was held on Saturday the 26th of August at Oxford Brookes University, UK. The lecture explored the reasons why Igbo language is in decline, what efforts are currently being made to keep it and what needs to be done in the future to ensure the continuation of the language?

Speakers included the President of OADC UK & Ireland Kanayo Akabuike, Igbo book writer Ezike Bon Ugwu and Senior Academic Researcher Prof Joe Ukemenam.

Of the many issues discussed the following are some of the key issues:

Igbo State Governments are not doing enough to sustain Igbo language. There is a lack of funding to encourage people to study and research Igbo and also a lack of incentive for teachers to specialise in Igbo.

Some progress has been made with Governments instructing traditional rulers to be speaking Igbo language and mandating school children to wear Igbo traditional dresses to school every Wednesday. However, overall these initiatives will do little to save the Igbo language from extinction. Igbo State Governments have a responsibility to implement effective policies to sustain Igbo language.

Dr Eke who was one of the many people that attended the lecture from London, stated that the Igbo language is indeed in danger of extinction as the language is not used in the study of science and there are no efforts in growing the language by officially recording the evolution of new words. 

A lack of respect for the language, even amongst Igbos. Priority is often given to other languages within families and organisations.

The Oxford Igbo Union Annual Lecture aims to bring together different organisations to raise awareness and discuss the issues facing the Igbo region. The chairman of Oxford Igbo Union Chukwudi Okeke states that the feedback on this year’s Annual Lecture has been outstanding. He noted that firmly rooted action needs to be taken to ensure that the Igbo language does not become extinct. Language embodies the unique cultural wisdom of its people. A lost language is a lost culture and a lost identity. One of the aims of Oxford Igbo Union is to promote and maintain the Igbo language, culture and tradition.

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