SAVING IKA LANGUAGE THROUGH IKA DICTIONARY

Ika language is the language spoken by the people of Ika ethnic nationality who are found in the Ika Federal Constituency which is made up of Ika North East and Ika South LGAs of Delta State. All the eleven autonomous kingdoms namely; Abavo, Agbor, Akumazi, Mbiri, Idumuesah, Igbodo, Otolokpo, Owa, Umunede, Ute-Ogbeje and Ute-Okpu within the Ika ethnic nationality speak the Ika language.
Over time, the usage of the Ika language has experienced a very sharp decline, especially amongst the present generation of youths, partly due to modernization and the failure of the older generation and institutions in Ika land to transfer the rich Ika cultural heritage to the younger generation. Alert to the imminent threat of Ika language going into extinction, a foremost Ika socio-cultural organization, Onu Ika Nigeria last week, during the 19th Ogwa Ika held at Owa-Oyibu, unveiled the first edition of Ika Dictionary which will serve as a reference book for all Ika people both at home and in the Diaspora.
Onu Ika Nigeira through this feat, has shown that it is indeed a veritable platform for the promotion and propagation of Ika core values, identity and image. The Head, Collective leadership of Onu Ika Nigeria, Mr. Daniel Usifoh along with all who made the Ika Dictionary venture a reality must be praised and commended and posterity will surely remember them well for the immense efforts they are making in projecting the Ika ethnic nationality in good light among the ethnic groups in Nigeria and safeguarding the Ika language from extinction.
Even as we commend Onu Ika Nigeria for its laudable effort in producing the Ika Dictionary, it must be stated that every Ika person has a role to play in making the Ika Dictionary live up to its billing of reviving the dying Ika language.
First of all, the dictionary as a tool for saving the Ika language from oblivion should not be seen as a scheme for making pecuniary gains irrespective of the huge challenges and monetary expenses put into the project. It must be very accessible and price friendly in order for the youths, especially of school age to be able to afford it. Otherwise, putting a high price tag on it will take it out of the reach of the common man and thereby defeat the aim of proliferating it to be within the reach of all and sundry.
Furthermore, our traditional rulers and political class must ensure that the dictionary is embraced in all our traditional and social institutions in Ika land. Ika language should be inculcated into the curriculum of schools in Ika land, as this will give the younger generation a formal background of the language, while the dictionary will serve as a tool for building the pupil’s or student’s command of the language. Churches should also imbibe the use of the Ika Bible during church services, as this will go a long way in propagating the use of Ika language not only to Ika people, but all who live in Ika land especially children and the youths. Big churches should ensure that Ika people are brought to man branches and stations of their churches in Ika land in order to promote the use of Ika language during sermons as is done with other languages like Igbo and Yoruba.
Also, well to do individuals of Ika extraction should help fund researches on Ika language with a view to making improvements on this first edition. Indigenous language teachers should as a matter of necessity, be recruited to effectively teach the language in schools across Ika land, as this will slowly, but surely bring about a revival in the usage of the language.
Onu Ika Nigeria should also introduce younger minds into their fold with little or no financial obligation, as this will create an avenue for grooming the next generation in the way and culture of Ika people which will ultimately facilitate the effective transfer of cultural norms and values from one generation to another.
Finally, it is our hope that by this time next year all criticisms, misgivings, would have been reviewed and improved upon and give birth to a more comprehensive second edition of Ika Dictionary.

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