I am British Nigerian. Which for me means, I am born and raised in England but I am of Nigerian heritage because that is where my parents are from. Finding my own cultural identity has been a long journey because I have never felt British enough to be fully British or Nigerian enough to be fully Nigerian.
My parents were born and raised in Imo State in the south of Nigeria. After finishing university and getting married, my parents relocated to London where I was born one cold December morning in 1996. My first (and only) voyage to the Motherland was for a few months when I was three years old. My parents spoke only in English to my siblings and I, feeling it would be best if we were fully assimilated in British culture and I supposed had British accents – which we do.
Nigeria has the largest population in Africa and is an economic giant, trading in oil and natural gas. But Nigeria – the West African powerhouse of a nation that we know it as now – was initially a kingdom, home to hundreds of different indigenous tribes, all with different languages, cultures and religions. One of the largest three of these tribes was the Igbo (then known as the Ibo) people.
I created a multimedia online project all about my journey to learn more about my Igbo roots, which you can have a look at (or should I say experience!) here.
Here are a few resources that I found useful for teaching myself beginners conversational Igbo.
This was one of my favourite apps to use to learn because it used the learning technique of repetition, but in a way that it doesn’t get boring. It also shared random facts about Igbo culture that helped contextualise the words you’re learning.
2. Igbo 101 – App
I liked this app because it had native speakers speaking in the audio, which really helps with learning the correct pronunciation. I also liked the super random phrases it would use for translating – for some reason I still remember ‘Chike is eating an egg.’ Why?! 😂
Okwu ID is a UK based platform by and for young Igbo people. Okwu ID share the Igbo diaspora experience as well as promote Igbo culture, language, and history. They have a lot of online resources, videos on YouTube and also frequently put on events in London. I really enjoyed going to their Young Igbo Forum earlier this year (YIF 2019). They are definitely my favourite Igbo group!
When I first started looking online for resources to learn Igbo, Ezinaulo (which means family) was one of the first resources I used. It’s a great website and the lovely lady who runs it sends the most motivating emails to make sure you don’t give up on your way through your Igbo journey.
5. Igbo Podcast – Oji Abiala
This podcast is one of my absolute favourite resources to use to learn Igbo. It is run by Ifunanya, an American Nigerian woman who didn’t grow up speaking Igbo but wanted to make sure the Igbo culture stayed alive for her. Very relatable. Her podcast episodes have different teachers each time which keeps it interesting!
Ijeoma, who runs Igbostudy, is the only Igbo teacher I have ever had and she was absolutely amazing. I am dyslexic so I struggle with learning languages but she was really encouraging and patient with me. Her online resources are great also but it is definitely worth investing in some Igbo lessons with her.
I found this cartoon is great at helping learn conversational Igbo. It is easily one of the best things I have found on the internet. The story follows Ije, a young girl in Nigeria as she lives life with her brother and parents. Listening to real life conversations is always a great way to learn Igbo, so I found this cartoon fantastic! I’m still hoping for more episodes to be created.
8. Igbo Dictionary – App
An Igbo dictionary is always useful for those odd words you need to know how to translate or what they mean. But I will warn you, there are usually different words for the same thing and sometimes different words depending on the dialect so Igbo dictionaries are often wrong or inaccurate.
Of course, like with learning any language and even more so with a tonal language like Igbo, you have to be committed to practising it often. These apps and online resources are really great at making daily Igbo-speaking a habit.
*Feature image by Tunde Osun Media