In other not to allow Ekpeye language go extinct, the Ekpeye speaking natives who are dominantly placed in Ahoada East and Ahoada West Local Government Councils of Rivers State have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Bible Translation Trust (NBTT) for a complete translation of the Holy Bible into Ekpeye Language.
A 23-man Ekpeye Language Development & Bible Translation Soceity headed by Revd. Dr. Friday O.C. Anthony was also inaugurated “to push the work. To play their roles as the owners and managers of the project.”
Speaking at the event held at the Ekpeye Council House in Ahoada Town yesterday, Executive Director of NBTT, Dr. Yakubu Ado La’ah said the translation of the Bible in Ekpeye language is long overdue because many Ekpeye people had hopes to get the Bible translated in their own language because, the decision is to “save the extinction” of Ekpeye language.
La’ah said NBTT collaborates with various languages in Nigeria in the development of mother tongues, safeguarding it from extinction and the translating of the Bible in the language of those people.
According to him, it is the responsibility of the NBTT to appoint a mother tongue Project Coodinator, the person appointed by Ekpeye leadership on the translation of the Holy Bible will provide leadership and supervision needed for the successful completion of the project under the terms of this agreement in close collaboration with the committee and NBTT.
He stated further that “NBTT will provide training for the project coordinator, translators, literacy supervisors, reviewers and others who are involved in the project through courses, workshops and seminars. NBTT will provide consultation services ranging from the services of linguist, the service of literacy, translation, scripture engagement, arts and development work.”
Assuring that that the Executive Director of Literacy and Language Development or any delegation, shall visit the project from time to time for training or technical assistance, La’ah stressed that NBTT shall help in all the technical aspect and the overall printing of the Bible.
In the same vein, the Eze Ekpeye Logbo In-Council represented by the Regent of Ekpeye Land, HRM Nye Udu Felix Enene Otuwarikpo,Ph.D said the issue of Bible translation into Ekpeye language is indeed “long overdue,” while commending the efforts of those whom God has touched to come up with the project.
“We have just signed an MoU with NBTT for the translation of the Bible into our native Ekpeye language. I commend those who came up with this very idea. Translating the Bible into our language forms part of the rebranding process we are witnessing in Ekpeye.
We have to sit up to actualising the translation of the Holy Bible in Ekpeye language, because the project is very important to us as a people.”
While he called on Ekpeye sons and daughters within and in diaspora to contribute meaningfully to the actualization of the project, Nye Udu Otuwarikpo who is the reigning Nye Udu Igbu Upata III, decried the use of foreign languages especially the Igbo language to preach in Churches in Ekpeye Land.
Noting the act as an aberration, the monarch declared that “Ekpeye is not Igbo. Several years now and it is continuing, Nigerians from all walks of life mistake Ekpeye nation as part and parcel of Igbo. We are not Igbo. We are a distinct ethnic nation. Our success at completing this project will erase this wrong perception that we are Igbo. Ekpeye and Igbos are not the same people, we are distinct ethnic nations.”
He however assured that the traditional institution will work in harmony for the success of the project, while commending NBTT for accepting to collaborate with the Ekpeye Language Team to develop the native Ekpeye language.
He urged the Project Committee to work in earnest so that Ekpeye language can feature among other languages, noting that the project is an “Ekpeye project. We will appreciate the timely completion. We need not to fail because despite our collective desire to succeed, our late monarch, Eze Ekpeye Logbo II worked tirelessly for the project to succeed.”
Speaking after the inauguration, Anthony thanked both the traditional rulers and Uzugbani Ekpeye for their support, while assuring that his committee will work “relentlessly under the leadership of the Holy Spirit to ensure the work of Ekpeye Bible translation is complete in no distant time.”
The Ada Ekpeye Logbo, High Chief Patricia Uwhudhiga who spoke onbehalf of the Uzugbani Ekpeye, promised that all segments of the people will be mobilized to key into the project.
Apart from clergymen, community heads, titled Chiefs and clan heads present at the event, Eze Igbus present are HRM Eze Augustine Maxwell Okpokiri, Eze Igbu Ubie; HRM Eze Joshua Eyiba, Eze Igbu Igbuduya; HRM Eze Goodpower Okpagi, Eze Igbu Akoh and HRH Eze Innocent Odum,Eze Igbu Ugbobi respectively.
Highlights of the event was the induction of Ekpeye nation as an automatic member of NBTT. Hymns, SS&S, dictionary and forklore materials written in Ekpeye language were displayed.
Compiled by Egbe Buduzhi