Story of Akalaka and What Ikwerre People should know about IGBO.

Discussion in 'Igbo Talk' started by izu, Jun 29, 2016.

  1. Izu

    Izu Admin Staff Member

    The story of Akalaka could as well be true. As stated earlier, Akalaka might have indeed, come from the west. In Ogba land for instance, the name for earth is ali and this is same in the west. Ogba land is called Ali Ogba and this linguistic similarity between the Ogba and the west could be more than a coincidence. What I am trying to say here is that we must as well consider the possibility of Akalaka coming from the West. It may be true that Akalaka even existed. The question is if he was from Bini as we were told. As we progress, we shall once more, revisit the Aklaka story when we discuss the Ezechime migration.

    There was another version though unpopular that linked the Ikwerre to the Nkwerre people of present Imo state. Going by the tale put forth by this Christian Association that Ikwerre was given to them for responding ‘Akwurulem’ the white men, one would be prompted to ask how a name given to Rebisi Elders became a name for an entire sub-group. There are many tales like this about people responding to the White men and the white men calling them by their response later. It is same with Warri and Benin but only few are true, the rest are speculations. The truer ones are easy to detect. For example, Benin was a kingdom under one king and if the Portuguese called them Benin based on a description by Itsekiri traders as Ubinu, then it’s probable that the kingdom would without difficulty become Benin to the Portuguese and the rest of the European explorers.
    But the Ikwerre, like the many other Igbo speaking groups, live in autonomous village groups without a central king before the British invasion so it would be difficult to make an Ikwerre beyond the Rebisi areas.

    However, in discussing the Igbo question, one has to understand firstly, what make people Igbo. There is only one thing and that is native language. Is your native language an Igboid language? Check the list of Igbo languages in chapter 2. Migration stories are good to tell but we must always remember they are mostly speculations and even when they turn to be true, they do not alter the linguistic identity we have now come to adopt. You become Igbo the moment you migrate into any Igbo-speaking area with no plan of returning and having adopted the language and culture of the area over time.
    We shall see as we progress, who the Igbo interpreter could be and if Akwurulem too is an Igbo word. If Akwurulem is an Igbo word and the Igbo interpreter was explaining to the Rebisi ‘illiterate elders’ as the ‘Christian Association called them, and these ‘illiterate elders’ understood, do we still want to take the ‘Iwhurhuohna Christian Association’ seriously?

    Again they wrote:
    Professor Godwin Tasie noted that in 1913 the Rt Rev Herbert Tugwell, the Anglican Bishop on the Niger, undertook an experimentation tour of Ikwerre towns and villages assumed to be Ibo-speaking to test the Union Ibo Bible Nso being introduced in Iboland. "Tugwell discovered from the tests he carried out that although the Ikwerre were often regarded as Ibo… the Union Ibo Bible translation, surprisingly, was not easily understood by the Ikwere." This is obviously why Igbo vernacular was compulsorily introduced and taught in all schools in Ikwerreland before the Nigerian Civil War to the assimilation (i.e. destruction) of the Ikwere language.

    But every Igbo apart did find it difficult accepting the central Igbo because as we all know; it wasn’t actually anybody’s particular dialect that was used. In Owerre areas, similar cases were reported too. In the Nsukka, Ezzea, Izzi and Ikwo areas, such cases were equally reported. In fact, until today, many Ezzea people still did not understand the central Igbo easily. If the Union Igbo was not easily understood by the Ikwerre, how on earth will anyone knowledge in the many differences among Igbo dialects finds it surprising? The Union Igbo was a selection of words from different Igbo dialects to form a comprehensive Igbo language understandable by all Igbo speaking people. Why wouldn’t the Ikwerres and other Igbo speaking peoples find it uneasy understanding the new fusion? What is surprising here? Was anyone expecting them to pick it up at once when it had many words from other dialects they haven’t even heard before?
    Meanwhile, words from the Ikwerre dialect was very much involved in the formation of the union Igbo as we can see in Amadioha, Ihuoma, Aha,Elechi and many more against even the languages of people from today’s Anambra state as in Iruoma, Amadiora, Afa, Enechi, etc.

    The union Ibo language was introduced as stated earlier, to link up all the Igboid languages. I am finding it really funny when this ‘Christian Association’ wrote here that it was forced on them. Even in Yoruba, because of their many dialects too, a central Yoruba was formed. No one understood the union Ibo at first apart from those that formulated it. Others continued to learn it (even to this day). The union Igbo did not destroy Owerre, Mbaise, Enuani, Izzi, Ezzea, Ikwo, Aro, Ohafia, Mbaino, Oka, Nsukka, Ikwo, Ika, Ukwuani, Etche, Ogba languages etc, how come it was to destroy Ikwerre?
    After creating the union Igbo which was centered around Owerri, Isuama, Onitsha and Opobo dialects, the creators realized that they had created a ‘no man’s language. Writing on the many different dialects of the Igbo language, Dr Ida Ward wrote that.

    “The individualism of their social organization has meant that widely different dialects have developed in the country in the past… this does not mean however, that there have been no dialect leveling influences in the past… it is probably true to say that there is no such thing as ‘pure’ Ibo. As in the case of all languages, influences of one kind or another have made themselves felt. In the past the Arochukwu, trading over the whole country, founded settlements in many areas, and these have radiated Arochukwu linguistic influences. Similar settlements have been made by the Nkwerri traders. Big slave markets such as those at Bende, Uzuakjoli, Akwete, and Bonny must have had Ibo from all parts of the country congregated in them and these probably left traces behind.”

    The Union Igbo which people now called Igbo language was created to help the early missionaries and the colonial government create a central language for all the Ibo speaking people of Southern Nigeria. At the completion of the first union Igbo, it was discovered that even the Owerri people whose dialect was massively used in constructing the Union Igbo would not understand it properly because words from Onitsha, Isuama were used by Achdeacon Dennis and his team. But Dr Ida Ward had a handy explanation on why a particular dialect has to be used as a primary base for the Igbo languages. He isnsists that to do that, one would need to undertake a linguistic tour of Igbo land. He said:
    “In other to examine a number of Ibo dialects from the point of view of sound usages and constructions in other to find out if there is a dialect which could be used as a literary medium for African writers and for school publications, which would be acceptable over a wide area of the Igbo country and which might form the basis of growing a standard Ibo.”
    But no matter how the Church Mission Society tried, they wound up facing a newer challenge on the Igbo language dialects. In all, one must appreciate the efforts of men like Archdeacon Dennis. It was not an easy work recreating a new language out of groups of dialect clusters.

    Dennis thought it wise to infuse the Onitsha and Owerri dialects as a standard form of the Igbo language because, his group, the Church Mission Society, on arrival at Onitsha, decided to use the Onitsha dialect in writing Igbo language only to discover that to the east, Onitsha dialect does not extend beyond five towns and to the West, it was same. But the infusion of words from the Owerri, Onitsha, Bonny Arochukwu Dialect in 1905 ensured that wider reach to the east and west was achieved to some extent. But inspite of these, many towns that are even closer to the Owerri dialects find it difficult understanding the new Union Igbo. Even in Agbor, the teachers hired from Asaba by the missionaries who themselves have learned the Union Igbo, find it difficult with the Ika speakers who like others, saw it as an imposition of a new dialect on them without knowing that it was created by the White people and for a purpose.
    Of course the reason why the new Union Igbo ran into trouble was that the P.R on it was very poor. People were not notified of the new language and the reason for its formation so in some areas, the people found it as a deliberate attempt to impose a new dialect on them.

    Even among the Missionaries, the Union Igbo was poorly accepted by the RCC simply out of jealousy. They must have thought it intimidating to borrow a thing from their arch rival, the protestant churche and hence, they stuck to their Onitsha dialect as a medium of reaching every Igbo. On this, Prof. Adiele Afigbo says,
    “Union Igbo was a creation of the Church Missionary Society. The other protestant Churches were prepared to adopt it, at least, in so far as they use the same Bible, as well as the same or more or less, similar prayer books. But the Roman Catholic Mission would not. Unfortunately for the Igbo, the bitter and senseless rivalry amongst the churches extended to the linguistic question. As a result, the RCM at first, stuck to the Onitsha dialect with the result that school children as far as Okigwi and beyond were taught to say ‘yịọlụ ayị ayịyọ’ in place of yịọra anyị arịrịọ, only to be laughed at by their non catholic brothers and sisters.’ After some time, however, when the RCM discovered that the importation of Onitsha dialect into the Owerri Province and beyond hindered their work, they turned around and issued primers in both Onitsha and Union Igbo.”

    Other authors who noticed the complicacies relating to the too many dialects of the Igbo language like Proffessor Westermann aregued that Igbo language is a very difficult language because you could learn the dialect of one region only to find yourself in a new region where you realize that you have to start same thing all over gain. He said:
    “Ibo is one of the most difficult West African languages on account of its dialectal variations, its richness in prefixes and suffixes and its intonation.”

    And the whole thing resulted to even church teachers reading texts from the Union Igbo while discussing it with their local dialects as we still find to this day. Even in among the Ikwerre who have gone to create an Ikwerre dialect Bible. In one of my Visits to St Peter’s Anglican Church, Wempey Junction, I saw a sign welcoming visitors written in Ikwerre dialect as ‘Anu biale wee!’ whereas such sign when I went to work at Owerri town was written ‘A nnu abiala ee!’ just a dialectal different shift but enough for a traveler like me to understand. Such in Delta would have been written ‘Unu abiana oo!’

    Everyone speaks general Igbo and their dialects when needed. I think the Ikwerre people did misunderstand so many things and need to re adjust. To single out the central Union Igbo is an aberration. Every Igbo group, like the Ikwerre had their own dialect until this very minute and the Union Igbo was not, is not and would probably not be anybody’s language in the future but simply the language of communication among all Igbo speaking people of the subgroups I have mentioned earlier.

    -- Culled from LOOK HOMEWARDS NDI-IGBO By Carlos Chinwendu

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