As more Nigerian languages are endangered, the Association of Esan Professionals (AEP) and the traditional rulers of Esan extraction have called for the inclusion of Esan language in the school curriculum.
Speaking at AEP’s 12th Esan Economic Empowerment Workshop with the theme, “Esan Language: Is it on the verge of Extinction? held at the Samuel Adegboyega University Hall, Ogwa, Edo State, the participants advised parents to teach and speak Esan language to their children.
AEP’s president and former speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, Mr. Matthew Egbadon, who spoke at the event, regretted that Esan language was fast dying, saying “parents no longer speak Esan language to their children and wards.
“Esan language is endangered; if drastic steps are not taken to address the issue, the language may become extinct in the next 25 years.
“We want Esan language re-introduced in schools’ curriculum. We intend to reach out to our people abroad on this matter. It is a very serious one. We have come to seek support and prayers of every Esan man and woman,” he said.
In his speech, the speaker of Edo State House of Assembly, Dr Justin Okonoboh, argued that Esan language would not go into extinction, adding that the fear of the loss of language is not peculiar to Esan language going into extinction was not as even the French and English people also entertain similar fear.
He stated that the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare 11, had during his (Oba’s) coronation, also called for the inclusion of Edo language and history in schools’ curriculum.
“I know we can prevent Esan language from dying with the caliber of people in AEP in particular and Esan in general,” he said.
Also speaking, the Ojomon of Ekpoma, Chief Ezekiel Ainabe, disagreed with Okonoboh saying “the fear of Esan language going into extinction is real” saying “presently children from Esan land no longer speak the language.”
“It is high time we address this issue of Esan language going into extinction once and for all. That is the reason why we are here to draw the attention of Esan people to the danger of allowing the language to die,” he said.
On the way forward, Ainabe said AEP would ensure that Esan language is made compulsory in schools in Esan land adding that AEP would organise a quiz competition for students from the local governments in the state to encourage them to speak the language.
In his remarks, the Onojie of Ekpoma, Ehizojie Abumere Anthony 11, who commended AEP for bringing the issue to the fore said: “I have been thinking of what you are doing about Esan language that is fast dying and no longer taught in schools. The issue should give any real Ishan man concern.”
He commended AEP for its efforts at reviving Esan language in Schools, adding that anybody that promotes Esan language needs support and prayers.
“Any man that does not speak his father’s language is a slave. It is a new pattern of slavery,” he said.
He also advised the group to carry along the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) Esan Chapter in the crusade.