Online Website Debuts to Preserve Igbo Heritage 

Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja

An educational resources website, which is designed to promote the Igbo language and heritage through repositories of published works in Igbo has made its debut. 

Such works include literature, grammar, dictionaries, and journals, among others. 

The brain behind the innovative project, is a 2021 graduate of Linguistics and Igbo from the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ikwo, Ebonyi State, Sunday David Nwafor.

 Nwafor told THISDAY that the online library which was unveiled recently is a platform that brings together the needed resources to take the Igbo language to every part of the world. 

He said: “We launched the website to achieve two basic objectives: language advancement/preservation and easy accessibility. 

“First, we are aware of a prediction of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) 2006, that the Igbo language is seriously endangered and may go into extinction in 50 years from 2006 onwards. 

“We are confident that the Igbo language won’t die, and the website is just one effort towards preserving the language and advancing it digitally. Second, many Igbo language texts are not yet available online, which presents access challenges to researchers, teachers, academia, writers, readers, students, and Igbo speakers in the diaspora to access. 

“Even many that are already online often post limited access challenges due to the high cost and distribution difficulties. This Igbo digital library bridges the gap and makes Igbo literature accessible to everyone.”

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On where he drew his inspiration to delve into such a venture, Nwafor stated that many things inspired him to embark on the journey. 

“When I gained admission to the university to study Linguistics and Igbo as a course, I had access to numerous linguistics books online but couldn’t find a website where I could download Igbo books. This posed a challenge to me as a student and other people including researchers, teachers, and readers and I used to travel to different higher institutions in Nigeria to get Igbo textbooks because I was my departmental course representative.

“So, considering the risk involved in traveling, I decided that one day, I would make Igbo books accessible to people irrespective of their geographical location. The need to give people easy access to knowledge inspired this project.”

He explained that the website has three main features, including a digital library, a bookshop, and a publishing company, adding that the library aims at promoting and preserving the language digitally, especially helping people to know the tradition, history, and life of the Igbo people through reading works written in the language.

“For instance, the calendar section displays days, months, years, festivals, or events of the Igbo people. The library also has a bilingual section, which includes books written in English on Igbo life, culture, literature, history and much more. 

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“This section is particularly useful to Igbo students and interested others. The bookshop is a one-stop shop for all Igbo language books and journals for the advancement of the Igbo language. 

“The works here also include literature, grammar, dictionaries, journals, and much more, which though are not free come in affordable prices. You can get an e-book of your choice or place an order for a hard copy and it will be delivered to you.  

“The website is also designed for publishers and authors, industries and researchers in academia to make money by publishing or uploading their published works on the website. We appeal to librarians, authors, linguists, government, and technologists who love the Igbo language to lend support for the library. 

“The whole essence of the library is to preserve all Igbo language works for the future and to make it a place where users can either read, buy or sell a product (book) to the public,” he explained.

Nwafor, who has just completed his compulsory one-year national service called for support from well-meaning individuals and groups in his effort to preserve the Igbo language and heritage.

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