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Enugu to partner with traditional rulers to promote Igbo language – Chime

By The Citizen
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The Enugu State Government says it will collaborate with traditional rulers to promote Igbo language and culture.

Gov. Sullivan Chime made the pledge in Enugu on Monday while declaring open a symposium and arts exhibition to mark the 2013 cultural festival in the state.

Chime, represented by the Commissioner for Enugu Capital Territory Development, Mr Ikechukwu Ugwuegede, said this had become necessary as traditional rulers who were custodians of culture were closer to the people.

The governor lamented the gradual extinction of Igbo language, adding that his administration would continue to support and protect its cultural values and norms.

“It is indeed a known fact that several Igbo families no longer find it fashionable to talk to their children in Igbo Language or teach them Igbo idioms and proverbs.

“Parents no longer relay those entertaining and educative folktales to their children.

“ We now treat the Igbo Language as a supplement to English and other languages. Our elites often feel ashamed to speak it.

“We as a government will continue to give concrete support to the promotion of our cultural values, ethics and norms,'' he said.

In a lecture, a professor of Igbo Language, Pita Ejiofor, called on the five South East governors and legislators to address the issue by making laws that would promote the language.

Ejiofor called on parents as well as teachers to also assist the government in the crusade to ensure that Igbo Language and culture were maintained.

In her address, Prof. Catherine Achalonu called on the Igbo to see their culture and language as being superior to others to avoid its extinction.

Prof Chris Ukwuemesi of the fine and applied arts department at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, lamented the poor attitude of the people to arts.

He attributed the poor attitude to negative interpretation of religion, calling on the people to reconstitute their mindset about arts.

“Art remains the will to which life is based. It will be a great deal of effort to turn around the situation of arts and artists.

“It requires a concerted effort by the government, artists and the people,'' he said.

The Chairman of the occasion, Igwe Lawrence Agubuzo, pledged the willingness of the royal fathers to work with the government to promote Igbo culture.

Earlier, the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Chief Joe Mamel, said the cultural fiesta was an annual event organised every December to enable the people of the state to unwind after the year's activities.

The highlight of the event was the presentation of an award to a music icon, Mr Mike Ejeagha, for using Igbo music to promote the culture and language.

The other activities to mark the 10-day cultural festival include food fair, cultural displays, praise night, beach party, street carnival, traditional wrestling and beauty pageant.

Others are Christmas carol night, children and teenagers' carnival as well as a talent hunt show