Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Celebrating African Endoglossia: Towards a Sustainable Roadmap for Pan-Phonetic Partnerships in Higher Education

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Celebrating African Endoglossia: Towards a Sustainable Roadmap for Pan-Phonetic Partnerships in Higher Education

Article excerpt

Introduction

The fabric of the 21st century is globalization, which entails global competitiveness. However, there are many levels of global competitiveness and these include the benign and the less benign. While the less benign among the global competitive endeavours bother on the development of nuclear war heads, there are other healthy and impressive playing fields for global competition ranging from sports, trade, politics, to war against hunger and deprivation, education, socio-cultural emancipation, etc ... Many of these are known to adopt a "pan" allembracing approach or rule of engagement, symbolic of ubuntu, a term popularized by various authors including the novelist, scholar, and journalist Jordan Kush Ngubane in the 1950s and further orchestrated by public figures such as Nelson Mandela, while articulating a society and world of inclusiveness and equality.

In the global spirit of ubuntu, which captures the substance of collective ethos that is shared across the African continent and beyond, it must be noted that African nations are not entirely left out in the quest for identity in the numerous areas under mention. Of a fact, one such area where Africa has striven continuously for a pan identity is in the area of political integration. Examples can be drawn from processes of democratization giving rise to the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in the 60s and metamorphosing into the African Union (AU) at the turn of the 21st century. Much as efforts in this area are laudable and should be sustained, there are other subtle means of celebrating pan-Africanism that ought to be explored, chief among them being Linguistic Pan-Africanism (LPA). This has to do with exploring and harnessing the potentials of the African endoglossia (i.e. indigenous languages of the African soil, severally referred to as home or native African languages as opposed to foreign languages, dubbed exolects or exoglossia) with a view to forging a pan-African linguistic identity.

Talking more directly about the quest for a pan-African linguistic identity, it is not as if nothing has been done in this area. Of a fact, it is hardly possible to engage serious debate on the native African language question without due mention of the spirited struggle of the Kenyan novelist Ngugi wa Thiong'o as depicted in some of his landmark works like Decolonising the Mind: the Politics of Language in African Literature and Something Torn and New: An African Renaissance. His pen-driven linguistic advocacy even culminated in him abandoning writing in English at one point and embracing his native Gikuyu, all in a bid to exhort other African writers to employ their native African languages as their preferred medium for literary expression. Indeed, in and out of prison, Ngugi's African linguistic militancy as per Thiong'o (1986, 1993 and 2009) dominated the African literary landscape and generated a flurry of polemical discourse as could be evidenced in MacPherson (1997), Lovesey (2000 and 2012), Gikandi (2000), Vahunta (2010) and Spivak (in Lovesey 2012). The vibrancy of that African linguistic advocacy notwithstanding, it remained confined to the domain of literary production and sought mainly to show the crucial role of African languages in "the resurrection of African memory". Beyond the literary-based advocacy for the use of African languages by African writers, the present writer is of the opinion that more needs to be done by linguists themselves to sustain the celebration and use of native African languages as a way of forging and nurturing the LPA of our dream in order to mould the pan-African linguistic identity.

However, one would expect such pan-African linguistic identity to leverage on an existing global linguistic advocacy that maintains justice and dignity for all world languages. Unfortunately, this has not been possible because, from the global perspective, the much talked about principle of justice and dignity for world languages could merely be a mirage. …

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