Nigeria: Why We Established Centre for Igbo Studies – UNN VC
The Igbo language and culture had been said to
be on the verge of extinction. Many parents
prefer to communicate with their children in
English, thus the language and tradition is not
transmitted to the younger generation orally or
However, this may not be for long. There is hope
in the horizon to save the Igbo language and
tradition from annihilation. The University of
Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) has established a Centre
for Igbo Studies to promote Igbo language and
Cross-section of guests at the ISA National
Conference /General Meeting.
The Vice-chancellor Professor Benjamin Ozumba
who made the disclosure at the 9th National
Conference /General Meeting of Igbo Studies
Association (ISA), hosted by the Nsukka main
campus of the university said that it was
because of the importance the university
attached to promotion of Igbo language and
culture that it established Centre for Igbo
He said the aim of the Centre would employ the
best global practice to make it a Centre of
excellence where the world would fall back in
any aspect of Igbo studies, research and
“I have no doubt that burning issues on the Igbo
philosophy, politics religion, culture, tradition and
other issues pertaining to Igbo identity and its
role through its oral literature will be robustly
discussed,” Professor Ozumba said.
Delivering a lecture at the conference with the
theme: ‘Igbo Oral Literature: Challenges and
Prospects,’ a university don from Anambra State
University Igbariam Campus, Sam Uzochukwu,
expressed disappointment with how moonlight
games and folktales were gradually becoming
things of the past in Igboland.
Uzochukwu said that it was unfortunate that
moonlight games and folk-tales in Igboland, that
created opportunity for older people to teach
younger ones the rich culture and tradition, had
disappeared and people now preoccupied
themselves with watching television and western
movies at night.
“What we see today is a situation where both the
old and young glue to their TV sets either
watching programmes or films. Nobody
remembers anything about moonlight games and
“This is why some children commit abominable
acts because nobody teaches them what is good
and what is bad,” he said.
Uzochukwu who majored on Igbo Oral Poetry,
urged upcoming researchers on Igbo language
and culture to focus on how to resuscitate the
Igbo oral literature rather than copying textbooks
just to repeat already existing research work.
“Upcoming researchers on Igbo language and
culture should not copy from internet and
textbooks, but find a means of finding solution to
problem facing Igbo oral literature” he said.
Uzochukwu regretted that churches
unfortunately, were not helping matters as they
brand every traditional burial as well as
masquerade dance as fetish, thereby giving a
serious blow to efforts to resuscitate Igbo
In his remarks, the National President of ISA,
Prof Emmanuel Emenanjo, said that this year
marked the 10th anniversary of the association
but the conference was the 9th national
conference as there was no conference in 2013,
following the Academic Staff Union of
Universities (ASUU) national strike.
Emenanjo urged governments in the South-East
states to make Igbo language compulsory in
secondary schools and a prerequisite for gaining
admission into tertiary institutions in the zone.
“Governments in South-East should do something
serious to promote the Igbo language and
culture,” he said
Emenanjo equally urged parents to endeavour to
teach their children Igbo language or be ready
one day when the child would ask them their
“For the fact your child is dressing like a white
man does not make him a white man. Your child
who is in Lagos and speaks Yoruba fluently does
not make him or her Yoruba. One day a
circumstance will force him to ask you: “where
do I come from?”
Emenanjo urged all stakeholders to join hands to
ensure that Igbo Oral Literature was revived.
Earlier, the Director of Centre for Igbo Studies,
Prof Gabriella Nwaozuzu said the coming of
colonial masters in Nigeria destroyed the rich
tradition and culture of Igbo.
According to Nwaozuzu, before the advent of
colonial masters, brothers were brother’s keepers
in Igbol and young people respected elders by
obeying constituted authorities.
“You hardly heard of armed robbery, rape or
kidnap which has become order of the day
today,” she said.
Nwaozuzu said the centre would be effectively
used to promote Igbo language and culture so as
to restore the rich cultural heritage of Ndigbo.