Afro-Medici: Thabo Mbeki's African Renaissance
Semper aliquid novi ex Africa: “Always something new from Africa.” The African renaissance. So many words: indabas and bosberade, i.e., meetings, conferences, discussions, pronouncements, speeches. So many words about words. In a language that everyone can understand. In English, rather than the Italian of Filippo Brunelleschi and his grand Duomo. In English, rather than the German of Jacob Burkhardt and his glorious narratives of the Italianate past. In English, rather than Zulu, language of the fierce and indomitable Shaka. In English, rather than Xhosa, in which the young Nelson Mandela spoke his first words. A renaissance in English, even if it is Zulu and Xhosa, which are apparently being reborn in this rebirth, and even if those who do not speak English cannot understand its terms of rebirth, except in translation.
Ambivalence over English and Englishness, or, more broadly, Europeanness. A renaissance in English, the European language, spoken by those whose ancestors could not speak English. A renaissance by those whose ancestors, even if they could speak English, would not have been listened to by the likes of the English-speaking should they have chosen to speak, except in such stock phrases as “Yes, baas (boss),” “No, baas,” “Thank you,