Diri, INC LEADER, Okaba, Call For Preservation of Ijaw History


By Caleb Tamunosaki

The Governor of Bayelsa State, Douye Diri, and the President of Ijaw National Congress (INC), Professor Benjamin Okaba, have called sustained efforts geared towards the preservation of Ijaw culture and language.

The two personalities spoke at the official launch of a book titled, ‘The Izon of the Niger Delta’ in Yenagoa on Friday.

The book written was under the auspices of the Ijaw History Project and edited by Professors Ebiegberi Alagoa, Tekena Tamuno and John Pepper Clark.

It was commissioned by the first elected Governor of Bayelsa, late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, in 2004.

The governor and the INC chief paid tributes to Alagoa, Tamuno and Clark for documenting the history of Izon people.

The commended the book launch committee chaired by Professor Seiyifa Koroye for their efforts in putting the event together.

The Bayelsa Governor said that his government was taking deliberate steps to prevent the prediction that the Ijaw faces extinction in the near future.

Diri assured that his administration would give the deserved attention to the preservation of Ijaw language and culture.

He also called on parents to speak the language to their children.

He said that teachers would be trained and posted to schools to the teach language.

“What we are doing today as Izon people is very important. If you do not know where you are coming from, you actually do not know where you are going. As Izon people, let us all resolve that wherever we give birth to our children, we will speak Izon to them.

“Our language is one of those forecasted to become extinct in a few years and we do not want it to become extinct. So, your government is doing everything to ensure this does not happen.

“I am happy that this programme is part of our second anniversary. As I have been saying, we can build all the bridges and roads but if we lose our identity, we have lost it all. For me, this is one of the star events of our anniversary programme.”

Speaking also, the INC leader, Okaba urged government to make compulsory m the teaching and learning of Ijaw History as a compulsory subject in secondary schools and universities.

“I consider it most expedient to call on Mr Governor of Bayelsa State to maximise the gains of this noble effort (the book project) by, through legislation, making the teaching and learning of history and Ijaw history compulsory in our secondary schools and tertiary institutions (as General Studies Courses).

“From this book project, it is obvious that history is not just study of past events but witness of time, the torch of time, the life of memory, the teacher of life and the messenger of antiquity.” He said


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