President of Onarubi Age Grade, Moses Okali Obikpe, of Abiriba Community has urged the Federal Government to institute a policy that allows the use of local languages to teach in Nigerian schools.
Mr Obikpe made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, on the sideline of the ‘Igwa Mang’ cultural celebration of the Age-grade on Sunday at the Jabi Garden, in Abuja.
“When we are teaching our children science, including mathematics, we have been proposing that we should use our native languages to teach them and imbibe our culture into our young people.
“It is time we infused our culture into our national development and that includes our education.
“This will make them develop with a genuine interest in our languages in order to preserve our heritage and identity.
“We have extremely copied the white man’s civilization and this is not helping our culture.
“For instance, in China, they don’t speak English, they don’t practice the western culture and today they are the second richest economy in the world, “he said.
Obikpe, who also works at the Multi-Sectoral Regional Office of the UNESCO, said that the Age-grade system was a veritable tool for the preservation of cultural heritage, and the provision of community service in Abiriba Community.
“Culture is who you are, what you speak, eat and wear, and it must be preserved with pride.
“Abiriba is known for its rich cultural heritage driven by the Age-grade system, and what we are doing here today is the celebration of what age grade has done in our community.
“The Onarubi Age-grade was the first age grade in Abuja, formed in 2010 to bring back the culture of respect for elders and orderliness which the Abiriba people are known for.
“We have served the community and preserve our culture for the past two years, so we have handed over to a junior age-grade to continue the community service,” he added.
NAN reports that Abiriba community, popularly known as ‘Small London’, is situated in Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia State.
It is reputed to have over 150 years of strict practice of the Age-grade system of traditional administration, which has rapidly driven community development.
The Age-grade practice is characteristic of any Abiriba community both at home and in Diaspora.
The 2018 ‘Igwa Mang’ cultural fiesta in Abuja was celebrated amidst glitz and glamour, with various cultural performances.