Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

The Case for Kiswahili as a Regional Broadcasting Language in East Africa

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

The Case for Kiswahili as a Regional Broadcasting Language in East Africa

Article excerpt

General Background

The twenty-first century is undoubtedly the era of unprecedented integration and interaction of peoples of different localities and cultures across the globe. The need to nurture positive and sustainable intercultural dialogue between the communities of East Africa is as important as the ongoing dialogue between the region and the rest of the world. In the previous century, contact between Africa and Europe was significantly characterized by cultural conflicts that have been studied from the perspective of different disciplines within the Humanities and the Social Sciences. The twenty-first century, however, should be embraced as an era for enhancing cultural dialogue in the emergent Global Village. United, African countries can identify and take advantage of the positive features of global heritage such as the advanced information, communication and media technologies. Such technologies as well as legislations supporting their uses should be adopted urgently by African governments as they work towards establishing an enabling socio-political environment for increased transnational flows of human and monetary resources across the continent's economies.

According to the World Bank (1996, 1999a, 1996b, 2001), itself a chief agent of globalization, the twenty-first century is characterized by, inter alia, acceptance of regional economic blocs as crucial players in the multilateral trading system of the new international economic order. Participation in the global economy is currently considered more meaningful when negotiations are done between blocs rather than between single countries. In contemporary Africa, there is an emerging consensus that new regional economic blocs can enable African economies shield off rather than yield to the negative forces of globalization (Mazzeo, 1984; Asante, 1986; Jovanovic, 1992; EAC & GTZ, 2000; EAC, 2001; Kasonga, 2001). Trading blocs like East African Community (EAC), Southern African Development Community (SADC), Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the new inter-continental Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) can indeed help African countries evolve and pursue common and coordinated positions on various international trade issues and establish strong multilateral negotiating coalitions. Such coalitions can exert meaningful influence in negotiations with transnational corporations (TNCs) and the Bretton-Woods Institutions. As demonstrated by the OPEC bloc and the Cancun crisis, strong multilateral negotiating blocs offer one of the surest yet elusive ways forward in terms of addressing the serious inequalities that mar international trade between the Global South and the Global North (World Bank, 1999, 1999, 2001). Africa's own avant-garde developmental frameworks such as Network of Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and African Renaissance should be supported in their advocacy for regional integration as the conditio sine qua non for twenty-first century Africa's meaningful participation in the process of globalization.

Interdependence rather than independence is the new clarion call driving contemporary international relations in East Africa. Proponents of renewed regionalism in East Africa also note that regional integration is not a matter of choice rather one of necessity. In 2000, the then Deputy Secretary of the East African Community, Ambassador Fulgence Kazaura observed:

In this time of globalization, integration into world markets is needed, if the states [of East Africa] don't want to remain at the rear end of international development. It is true that some states e.g. India and China are integrating their economies in the world markets by national efforts only. However, it is also true, that most ofthe smaller states will not be able to pay the costs ofglobalization (EAC, 2001a: 12).

It appears the forces of globalization pervading the world at the dawn of the twenty-first century will continue to reduce the capacity of East African countries to effectively benefit from international trade unless a suitable strategy of coping is adopted. …

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