By Ethelbert Obinna Umeh
Tomorrow 31st March 2016, will be a unique day and a great opportunity for the lovers of Igbo language as one of the foremost Igbo feminine intellectuals launches a brand new Igbo dictionary. It is no other person than Mrs Nnenna Ihebom.
GWF Hegel in his philosophical analysisof history describes it as the synthesis of thesis and antithesis. With this new publication, Igbo language is no longer the same- we have recorded yet another history.
She is a great woman and an unrepentant promoter of Igbo language. With this type of people, we are hopeful that the UN prediction that Igbo language may go into extinction by 2025 if something drastic (like this one) is not done will not come to fruition.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2004 noted that Igbo language may go into extinction by 2025 if nothing is done by its speakers. To keep Igbo language alive and active, it should not only be taught in schools, but also be used as the official language both within business and government circles in the areas where it is a predominant language, especially the 7 Ohaneze ndi Igbo States namely, Imo, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia, Rivers, and Delta states.
Nnenna Ihebom has demonstrated her love for Igbo language by authoring about 5 books / poems in Igbo language earlier before now, which has received considerable commendation from high and mighty. This time around she has metamorphosed into writing and/ or compiling a brand new Igbo dictionary. To me, this can be classified as the summit of her Igbo intellectualism.
I remember working with and under her watch as deputy director in an academic firm in Owerri, shortly before becoming the pioneer editorial adviser to the organization’s ‘The Young Genius Magazine’ in 2013. The experience had been refreshingly memorable. I learnt a lot from her simplicity, holiness, sincerity of purpose, academic prowess, literary fecundity and love for good socio-political leadership.
I decided to write this piece after reflecting on the 3 years I spent working under her watch as deputy director, reading some of her books, and literary pieces, and learning that she has come up with a dictionary this time. It was really a good and memorable experience that would remain evergreen as long as memory lasts.
When I eventually resigned my appointment with immediate effect and bowed to the law of change, she got the information, instead of bullying or attempting to scold me on the phone like most present day selfish employers do, or even quickly calling a staff meeting and say how bad Ethelbert was in office, and start saying things that was never said when Ethelbert was a staff.
She took a different and civilized step, by calling me on the phone, inquired why I resigned and of course saw good reasons with me and my vision and wished me the best. Ever since then, she has really being good and supportive with good advice whenever I need her maternal advice / mentorship, and I had been basking in the euphoria of her good wishes and God’s abundant Blessings.
She is not like some bizarre employers or team leaders who will not want someone under them to progress or who will simply classify their former staff or colleague as inefficient and/ or ineffective simply because the person resigned for obvious reasons. It is not because it is Ethelbert, I have inquired from former colleagues, and the experience had been awesome. She is a good woman with a golden heart.
Nnenna Ihebom is different, she is civilized, she is intelligent, and above all a child of God. God is with her and God will lead her in everything that concerns her, and answer her prayers, and defeat her from the powers of seen and unseen forces who are working for her downfall Amen.
Friends, may I use this medium to invite you all to the launching / public presentation of her brand new Igbo Dictionary at Villa Maria Pastoral Centre, Wetheral Road, Owerri. Time is 11am prompt. It is going to be a date with history.
Lovers of Igbo language, this is the time to update and grow our Igbo vocabularies and learn new things about our language. We are very grateful. In fact, words are insufficient for us to sincerely express our deep sentiments of gratitude to this Amazon for coming up with this rich encyclopaedic writing.
Let us encourage this great woman!
Ya Gazie ooooooo!!