Odenigbo: Promoting Igbo Language

Archbishop inaugurates odenigbo committee

All is now set for this year’s Owerri Archdiocesan Day celebration and Odenigbo lecture (Nkuzi Ohaneze), taking place at the Maria Assumpta Cathedral Owerri on Saturday, September 6, 2014.

The present lecture is the 19th in the series since it was founded in 1996 by His Grace, Most Rev. Anthony J.V. Obinna, the Metropolitan of the Owerri Catholic Ecclesiastical Province and Archbishop of Owerri.  This time around, an erudite scholar, Prof. Chinedum Nwajiuba will discuss the theme: Ochichi Oma: Olile anya Ohaneze.

It is worthy of note that even though the thanksgiving Mass to recall the elevation of Owerri from the status of diocese to a Metropolitan See (Archdiocese) is the hub and core of the two-day celebration (starting from Friday 05/09/2014 being the eve) Odenigbo Lecture has ever remained the main attraction of the celebration.

The Most Rev. Obinna founded the lecture series to enhance the functionality of Igbo Language, as a tool for evangelization and to halt its continuous decline arising from neglect by the owners of the language which posed danger of its imminent extinction.  The Odenigbo lecture series was aimed at development of Igbo language and culture so as to foster a harmonious relationship of the positive aspects with rich socializing and moral values and Christian religion, while discarding those aspects that conflict with the gospel message.  God spoke all languages on Pentecost Day and Igbo was one of them.  So Odenigbo lectures have therefore come to help Ndigbo assimilate the gospel better.  Odenigbo is an effort at collective internalization and spread of the Good News through the Igbo language.

The level of awareness, interest and participation the lecture series has generated in the past two decades is tremendous and most gratifying.  Its fruits include: greater enthusiasm and enhanced competence and personal commitment among Ndigbo to speak their language, and to read and write it.  Most liturgical celebrations, public devotions, meetings and presentations of addresses are now done in Igbo.  Before the inception of the Odenigbo lecture series, Igbo elites, including scholars and intellectuals did shy away from speaking in vernacular, as if it was degrading to do so.  Whenever they were constrained to explain anything in Igbo, they did so with a lot of apologies.  The reverse is now the case as more people now read, speak and write it as well as eat, wear and enjoy Igbo foods, dresses and music.  All this has added to the number of worthwhile books and reading materials available in Igbo.

It has halted the neglect, decline and impending danger of extinction of Igbo language. There is now a wholesome use of the language to express and interpret Igbo world views. Igbo language now permeates various disciplines such as  science, medicine, engineering etc. It is with the awareness and efforts made by such a project like Odenigbo and others that Google now has its Igbo version. The inestimable value of the lecture series to Ndigbo in particular and Christians in general, makes it clear that the project is not just a thing of the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri or Imo State alone.  The choice of Odenigbo lecturers as the records show cut across Igbo states and denominations and so deserves both the financial and moral support of all people of Igbo extraction



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