There has been fear and concerns for the gradual extinction of Ika language. As a way of ensuring the preservation of the language, the members of IKA VILLAGE SQUARE decided to set aside every 28th day of every month for Ika Language competition. Everyone on IKA VILLAGE SQUARE Online Platform is expected to converse only in Ika Language, after which winners would emerge and rewarded with cash prizes.
The maiden edition of this language competition took place on the 28th of September, 2019, with young vibrant lady Vivian Nkwor, from Akumazi in Ika North East Local Government Area of Delta State emerging the winner.
In this chat with Tessy Ashien, she shares her experience, motive, and aspiration.
Tell us about your educational background?
I am a graduate of Economics from Madonna University, Okija, Anambra State. I graduated in 2013 and did my NYSC at Akwa Ibom State, where I was posted to Ministry of Finance, State Secretariat, Uyo.
Tell us what do you do for a living?
I work with Berger Paints Plc at Asaba and I I am as well into online clothing and retail business
You recently won the Maiden edition of the Ika Language Competition on Ika Village Square Platform; can you tell us your experience?
When I heard about the competition, I did not know I could do so well, because I have never attempted writing in Ika language. So, I walked up to my brother in-law and told him of my intention to compete in the competition. He then encouraged me, telling me that it was simple. He said that it was just a case of spell as pronounced; meaning that it is the way I speak that is the way it sounds. I then started practicing and doing it as if I have been doing it for a long time. The competition itself surprisingly was not boring, as I enjoyed myself.
What motivated you to participate in the competition?
I told myself that I needed to participate in the competition not just because I wanted to win but to test my knowledge of Ika language. I wanted to prove that it is not enough to just know how to speak Ika language, but being able to read and write it as well.
How does it feel being the first winner of the competition?
I was very excited when I emerged the winner. I actually never thought of winning it at all. As that was not my major aim of participating in the competition. Even when I was conversing and writing I was always saying, “Please, anywhere you see any error correct it for me.” I indeed thank God for His grace.
It is obvious that you have enormous love and passion for the language; what could be accountable for this?
I was brought up by Ika parents. In our home, my parents most especially my father, made it mandatory for everyone in the house to speak Ika language so as to ensure that we are able to speak our language. My father was a well- cultured lover of Ika language and traditions. He believed that English language should not take the place of our mother tongue as it cannot supersede our local language. In short, then, if my father spoke with any of us in Ika and you happened to reply in English language you would be severely punished for it. Fortunately, all these paid off.
Are your parents still alive?
My dad is late but my mum is still alive
What was your mum’s reaction to this your feat?
She was very happy and she was one of those who assisted me when I was preparing for the competition.
If your father were to be alive today, what do you think would have been his reaction?
My dad was the kind of person that felt that your achievement is for yourself. All he would have told me is “congratulation”.
There is a large number of Ikas who do not like speaking Ika when they are with people of other tribes, what is your take on this?
As for me, I speak Ika a lot. For instance, I speak Ika with other Ika indigenes in my office. I am proudly Ika.
Since you are in love with Ika, and you have emerged the winner of the maiden edition of the Language Competition what next?
I am actually thinking of becoming a columnist, writing in Ika language preferably in a newspaper, or better still, television and radio programme, where I can speak or write in Ika language. This will in turn help the younger ones to learn and be interested in the language as well as promote Ika language.
Can we refer to you as one of the champions of Ika language?
Actually, I am still a learner and I think I still have a long way to go; I have not yet arrived at all. I am not a champion, as there are other people on Ika Village Square Platform, who even converse in Ika language better than I do. Every day I still pick up my pen and paper to practise the art of writing in Ika.
Are you conversant with Ika Weekly Newspaper?
Yes, I am. My dad, while alive, loved Ika Weekly Newspaper very much. He was an ardent reader of the Newspaper.
What do you have to say to those who initiated Ika Language Project to Ika Village Square?
I never knew I could converse and write so well in Ika language until this opportunity. I really appreciate Ika Village Square for making available this platform for me to explore Ika language. I really thank the organizers, for the opportunity because it actually brought to fore the best in me as it relates to the language. The coordination of the competition was excellent. They did a fantastic job. I pray God to bless the initiators of this competition.
Are there some individuals in particular that you would want to appreciate?
I would want to thank the convener, Barrister Uzum, Mr. Tonna (who made it easy for us by engaging us in conversation) Mrs. Agbomah Ifeoma, the Chairman, Chief Jude Ogbekile, Mr. Reuben Mgbodi, Mr. Williams Eghebi, Mr. Smart Ikem and many others.
You got the cash prize for the competition, what do you intend doing with the money?
I will spend it with my friends and loved ones.
The next edition comes up on the 28th of October, 2019, what advice would you give to those who will be interested in participating?
In the real sense, I did not actually go into the competition because I wanted to compete with anybody. Anybody that intends to participate in the next edition should have it at the back of their mind that it is not just about winning alone; but mainly the passion for the language.
Who are you dedicating your success to?
I appreciate Immaculate Okoh, Anita Aleh, Peace and all members of Ika Village Square. But most importantly, I dedicate it to my late father, Mr. Nkwor, of blessed memory, who vehemently ensured that I speak Ika, my mum and my uncle, Dr. Ekeh from Akumazi.
Your last word
Let us all be enthusiastic about conversing in Ika language. Our language is our identity. It helps one to communicate with one’s brothers and sisters without others knowing what one is saying; it aids privacy. And lastly, kudos to Ika Village Square