A Comeback For Africa’s Homegrown Languages?

A schoolroom in Rwanda (Photo: Dan Petrescu for EFA FTI/Wikimedia Commons)

A schoolroom in Rwanda (Photo: Dan Petrescu for EFA FTI/Wikimedia Commons)

In this week’s podcast, Cartoon Queen Carol Hills and I talk language and Africa. We also consider food idioms, banana skins and robberies gone wrong.

  • Televised debates for Ghana’s upcoming presidential election have all been conducted in English, despite the fact that English is understood by an estimated 20% of Ghanaians. Critics say the debates penalize candidates with poor English, effectively turning them into linguistic beauty contests. Now there are calls for future campaigns to include debates in the Twi language/dialect, which is far more widely spoken than English.
  • Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has co-written a thesaurus for his mother tongue, Nkore-Kiga (also known as Runyankore/Rukiga). Museveni says Ugandans favour English, along with Arabic and Swahili, over their neglected indigenous tongues.
  • Gabon is the latest Francophone country in Africa to consider switching its allegiance to English. If it does, it would follow Rwanda, which in 2009 switched its language of instruction in schools from French to English. The future for French in Africa looks uncertain at best.
  • South Africans are debating what to call President Zuma’s newly refurbished home. The US media would call the multi-acre, multi-building home a ‘compound,’ but that word has unfortunate connotations from the Apartheid period. Calling it ‘Zumaville,’ as it’s popularly known, may imply corruption, so the South African Broadcasting Corporation is directing its reporters and presenters to refer to this place as the president’s ‘residence.’
  • Having the peach, eating cold rice, other food-based idioms from around the world. Some of the best of these can be found in Adam Jacot de Boinod’s wonderful Tingo books.


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9 Comments

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9 responses to “A Comeback For Africa’s Homegrown Languages?

  1. Very good question at 11’32. Thanks for asking it! I’ll comment on that in tomorrow’s post.

  2. Pingback: Tuesday update #1. Why is Swahili so underdeveloped in Uganda? | Maneno Matamu

  3. Pingback: Report : Language and Education - the missing link SocioLingo Africa

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