By Ajong Mbapndah L
As the Community College of Baltimore County(CCBC) in the state of Maryland gets ready to start Igbo classes on October 1,2016, there is progress in getting more Colleges across the USA to introduce Igbo into their curriculum says Noblin Ngozi Angel.
Noblin Ngozi Angel, the reigning Miss Igbo USA 2016-2017, is putting her beauty and brains to work with a mission to get American Colleges add the Igbo language and culture on their curriculum. Expressing satisfaction that her proposal to the CCBC was accepted, Ngozi is doubling her efforts to get more Colleges to follow suit.
This is just the beginning says Noblin Ngozi, who is also a Model, actress, and a medical student. The Igbo language is spoken by millions of people in Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea and with fears from UNESCO that the language might go extinct, Ngozi believes that this must not be allowed to happen.
Ms. Ngozi, a few weeks ago there was word out Igbo classes will be taught at the Baltimore Community College, can you confirm this and what role did you play in the process?
It’s actually Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), It’s different from Baltimore Community College, although I’m working towards establishing the Igbo class in Baltimore Community College. But the two colleges are different colleges. Yes, it’s absolutely true that Igbo class will be taught in this college (Community College of Baltimore County) and other America colleges I’m working towards establishing Igbo language and culture class in America colleges. The role I played is that I’m a 22 years old young lady who’s driving the force of establishing Igbo classes in America colleges. I write and edit my proposals and send it to the world language chairperson of these Colleges after I might have spoken to them on the phone or face to face meeting.
For instance, for the CCBC, I spoke to the World language chairperson, she scheduled a meeting with me, at the meeting, she interviewed me, which afterwards she requested I send her a proposal and the class description, learning objectives and topics that will be covered. I sent everything to her within few days, which she went over, after some weeks I got a call and email congratulating me and breaking the good news that after a very carefully examining my proposal, my interview and the passion for my Igbo community and after reviewing other documents I submitted, which she and the school administration requested of me that the college administration have decided to offer Igbo language and culture class in their college.
What are some of the arguments you used in convincing the College authorities to consider Igbo as a course?
Like I said earlier, I was interviewed the first day I met the World Language Chairperson of the College. She asked me to tell her everything about the Igbo language and why I have so much passion in establishing such language in their college.
I told her everything she needed to know about the Igbos’. When I was talking about the Igbos,’ I mentioned Nigeria as a country, because there is no way you would talk about the Igbos,’ and never mention Nigeria as a country, I mean when you look at the developing sectors of Nigeria over the years, you will agree with me that the Igbos’ have played a great role in contributing to the development of Nigeria as a country. I told her that foreigners come into Nigeria for different purposes, with entrepreneurship as one of the purposes thereby making Nigeria one of the countries that has so much to offer to the world, making Nigeria a great part of the world, and it will be just right to learn and understand one of the main languages that is used for communication in Nigeria, which is Igbo language.
Not just the language, but the culture. We all know how much culture is of great influence in every sector of our lives. I also went further to let the World language chairperson of the college know that not only will establishing an Igbo class be beneficial to the foreigners, but also to Nigerians, especially of Igbo descent who were born and raised in America, who don’t know how to communicate (write, read and speak) Igbo language or know the Igbo culture, I made her realize that there are so many Igbo descents born and raised in Southwestern and North central Nigeria, which is the Yorubaland, who have lost touch with their Igbo culture and language.
These Igbo descents born and raised in the Southwestern and North central Nigeria or in the Diaspora forget their own language and culture adapting that of the Yoruba and that of the white mans,’ and as such the Igbo language and culture is going to an extinct. I made her realize that there are so many Africa-Americans who are married to Nigerians, especially Igbos and some Africa-Americans that have found their ancestry home traced back to the Igbos; so it will be wise if we establish Igbo language and culture class, whereby Nigeria descent and other ethnic groups will come together and learn the Igbo language, not just the language but the culture because Linguistic isn’t only about the language, but the culture as well and other things that sums up the totality of a certain people, which in this context is the Igbos’ and the Nigerians as a whole.
Can you situate the significance of the Igbo language for us, many people know that it is spoken by a one part of Nigeria, why should people be curious about learning the language?
correction- Igbo language is spoken by millions of people in Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea. Like I mentioned earlier- Igbo people have made a great impact in every sector of the Nigeria. People from different walks of life come to Nigeria for different purposes, so it will be great if Igbo language, which happens to be one of the languages spoken in Nigeria, is taught so people will be able to communicate with Igbo people in Nigeria and other parts of the world where Nigerians are suited. Now let’s talk about Igbo people born and raised in America and Diaspora as a whole- There are Igbo descents who were born and raised in America, who don’t know how to communicate (write, read and speak) in Igbo language. Some of them only know only a little part of the Igbo culture, I made her realize that there are so many Igbo descent born and raised in Southwestern and North central part of Nigeria, which is the Yorubaland, and tend to forget their own language and culture adapting that of the Yoruba people and as such the Igbo language and culture is going to an extinct. I’m a young lady born and raised in Igbo part of Nigeria, and relocating to the US, I realized that I have so much work to do in re-connecting my Igbo brothers and sisters born and raised in America with their culture and their language.
I want to let my brothers and sisters and the rest of the world realize that Igbos’ are not welcomed anywhere around the world even in their own country Nigeria, this is because Igbos’ are not owning their culture and language. I mean let’s think about it, the Igbos’ are not represented well in the Nigeria government, there are not enough Igbo representatives in the senate or any aspect of governmental positions in Nigeria, only little money is being spent on the Igbos’, etc, which led to the raise of Republic of Biafra, which in turn lead to the raise of Nigeria Civil-war, and as such the conflict between the Nigeria Federal government and the Igbo people in Nigeria. I want Igbo people born and raised in America and Diasporas to re-connect with their culture and language thereby nurturing the younger leaders of tomorrow who will take up the creation of peace and unity between the Igbos’ and the Nigeria Federal government thereby bringing peace, unity and a great development to the country Nigeria.
Furthermore, there are so many Africa-Americans that have found their ancestry home traced back to the Igbos; so it will be wise to establish Igbo language and culture class whereby the African-Americans will learn the language and culture of their ancestry home. African-Americans, Americans and other ethnic groups that have spouses from Igbo part of Nigeria will be comfortable with communicating with their in-laws and establish a longer relationship with the culture of their in-laws, which will create a healthy relationship and the passage of Igbo language and culture to their children.
About the course proper, how is it structured, do you have competent staff in place and any idea on the student intake for the course so far?
The course is held every Fall, Winter, Summer and Spring depending on the college. But in Community College of Baltimore the course will be starting October 1st 2016. And will be held every Winter and Summer starting from next year 2017. But I believe other colleges will be starting Spring 2017 as I’m still on the process of establishing the class with the college administration and their various World language departments. And yes, I have very competent staff in place for every America College that I’m working towards establishing the Igbo language and culture class. The student will have to register with the different colleges, and again depending on the colleges, a certificate or credit will be awarded after the completion of the course.
For instance, CCBC, which will be starting the Igbo class on October 1st 2016, students, will be given a Continuing Education Certificate after the completion. Also, the students will be part of my organization, which nurtures Young adults and professional for the movement of Igbo language and culture, which re-connects Young adults and Professionals of Igbo descent with their language and culture and strengthens them to establish the Igbo people including their parents to have a stronger relationship and better understanding with the Nigeria government , this will help develop leadership qualities in this Young adults and Professionals thereby preparing them to creating a better Nigeria, will take time, but I believe with the younger leaders like me coming closer with our language, origin/heritage, history and culture Igbo community and Nigeria as a country will be a great nation.
What has been the reaction of the Nigerian Community to this development?
Not a lot of people know about this. I’m a young lady that doesn’t believe in too much noise, rather in action. So, not every Nigerians knows me or about this development because I’m not shouting it to the world, I’m truly dedicated to serving my community and I’m doing it and it’s becoming a reality, so just that is enough for me.
The accomplishment of this mission of establishing Igbo class in America colleges, whereby people from walks of life will learn about my culture and language and the Igbo descents re-connects with their origin-the language and culture is all I need. Like I said, not everyone is aware of this, but so many Nigerians and Non-Nigerians that are aware of this are so excited and proud of me, especially the Igbo people who understands what this means. This means that we are sure that Igbo language will not die off by the year 2025 as predicted by UNESCO. This shows that Igbo language will never go extinct.
This shows that the Igbo culture which is gradually being devalued because of civilization will be revived. This means that there will be an understanding relationship between the Igbo people and the Nigeria Federal government, which will bring peace and understanding to the country thereby creating a great nation. So because of this and more, Nigerians are very proud of me, and I’m proud of my people as well.
My mother is super proud of me. My uncle who is an Igbo professor in Nigeria is so super excited because I carried on his legacy. He was scared I would forget my Igbo language and culture when I relocate to the US like so many young people like me do, but I never wished to forget my culture and language because that will be denying my identity- And denying my identity will be lying to myself, which is the greatest harm anyone could do to his/herself. My family members and close friends are very excited.
You are also a model, and actress, can you share the career you have had so far with us?
I’m not only a model and an actress. I’m also a student in the medical field. The model and actress aspect of my life has been great. And my career as a model and actress has been wonderful because in this career I have traveled and met so many people from all walks of life. From my career as an actress, I have featured in America TV shows, such as Investigation Discovery Show, House of Cards, Outrage and so much more, and also I have featured in couple of Africa films. For my Modeling career, (Laughs), growing up as a child I never saw myself as a model because I’m not tall and don’t have that figure or shape of that of a supposed model. So I never had so much interest in modeling as I had in acting. But as I got into acting, so many people including my mother told me that I could be a model. So, when I realized that there’s more to beauty than your physical appearance, I decided to go into the modeling world. And with the recent change in the modeling industry whereby there’s something for every size and shape, I walked into the modeling industry and I must say it’s been amazing. I have worked with so many American and African designers and I’m grateful to God, for his grace upon my life.
As reigning Miss Igbo America what other activities will you be working on for the rest of your term?
As I mentioned earlier on, I’m the CEO/Founder of an Organization called, “Igbo Amaka Cultural Organization, which has an Igbo institution incorporated into it. I just started this organization, and so far I and my team have been doing an amazing work through the mercy of God in establishing the Igbo culture and language, making sure that Igbo language does not go extinct as predicated by UNESCO, which predicted in 2012 that Igbo language will be going on an extinct at 2025 if nothing is not done. As the first and current MISS. IGBO AMERICA and as a community leader, I will fight with all my strength to make sure that Igbo language will not go on an exile and that the Igbo culture is revived.
Also towards the rest of my term, I’m organizing a medical mission alongside the organization “Igbo Queens & Kings America,” the organizers of the Ms. Igbo America pageant I won. We are organizing a medical mission to Nigeria. So, I thought about creating a one week medical mission in one of the Igbo states in Nigeria, which I presented to the Organization (Igbo Queens and Kings America) and they accepted, so right now we are working so hard to get sponsors and funds for the medical mission.
So far, we have picked one Igbo state we will be doing the medical mission, for now we will be doing one Igbo state because of fund and time, however, the medical mission will last for one week. As a Future Medical doctor, I have so much passion in helping to improve the healthcare system in Nigeria, which so many people don’t understand including Peace Corps that Nigeria healthcare system needs so much attention, especially in the rural areas.
When no one wants to stand and speak for my people, I will work hard and speak up for my people. Even after my term as Miss. IGBO AMERICA, with the establishment of my organization I will be recruiting Young adults and Professionals for medical mission to Nigeria, and as a young Igbo lady, we will start with Igbo state. Every year we will organize a medical mission in one Igbo state and then we will take it to the other ethnic groups in Nigeria.
Thanks for talking to PAV
Thanks, for this interview. I appreciate it!