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OUA/Bll1973-1980
PUBLICATION 3
RECONSIDERATION DES
POLITIQUES LINGUISTIQUES AFRICAINES
Direct8ur - Dr. KAHOMBO MATEENE
Directeur adjoint - Dr. JOHN KAlEMA
Editions
Bureau Linguistique de l'OUA
B.P. 7284 Kampala, Ouganda
Publi pour l'OUA/Bll
par Eleza Services ltd., B.P. 14925, Nairobi, Kenya.
janvier 1980.
UN MOT SUR LES COLLABORATEURS
Kahombo MATEENE, Docteur en Linguistique (Se cycle) de
l'Universit 'de Paris (Sorbonne), 1969, tait Professeur de
Langues et Littratures Africaines l'Universit Nationale du
Zaii'e, quand il a t nomm en 1972 Directeur du BIL/OUA
John KALEMA; Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics, Univer-
sity of Reading (U.K.), 1974, tait Professeur de Linguistique
l'Universit de, Makerere Kampala, avant sa nomination en
1977 comme Directeur Adjoint du BIL/OUA
Eyamba BOKAMBA, Ph.D., et J osiah TLOU, Ph.D., sont Pro-
fesseurs de Linguistique l'Universit de l'DIinois Urbana
- Champaign, USA.
DANS CETI'E COLLECI'lON
1. lifunze LingDla - Yekola Kiswahili 2e Edition 1979 par Kahombo
Mateene
2. Yiga Kiswahili - lifunze Lugands 2e Edition 1979 par Vin. F. K.
Kawoya
3. BIL/OUA 1973-1980 Reconsideration des politiques linguistiques
Africaines
Conforme la Dcision No. AHG/Dc. 8, 1966 portant cration du
Bureau Linguistique Inter-africain par les Chefs d'Etat et de Gouverne-
ment de l'OUA
ii
TABLE DES MATIERES
Remerciements v
Introduction vi
Il Rapport sur les Fonctions et les Activites du Bureau
Linguistique Inter-Africain de l'OUA par John
Kalema ... . ... . .. . .. .. .. .. ... .. . .. ... .. 1
III La Faillit de l'emploi Obligatoire des Langues
Europennes en Afrique et les Avantages d'une
Politique d'Indpendance Linguistique par Kahombo
Mateene . . .. .. .. ... .. . . ... ... ... . . 13
IV Les Consequences de Politiques Linguistiques des
Etats Africains sur l'Ensignement par Eyamba G.
Bokamba et J osiah S. Tlou .. ... .. ... ... ... .. ... . ... . 49
ili
REMERCIEMENTS
Nous remercions beaucoup Monsieur le Professeur Bokamba
de l'Universit de l'Illinois Urbana-Champaign, pour nous
avoir autoris publier pour notre compte l'article dont le
titre traduit en franais est "Les Consequences des Politiques
Linguistiques des Etats Africains sur l'enseignement' et qu'il
a conjomtement avec son conegue J. TIou publi dans l'ouvrage
dit par Paul Kotey et Haig Der-Houssikian en 1977, sous le
titre de Language and Linguistic Problems in Africa, Hom-
beam Press, Inc. 6520 Courtwood Drive, Columbia, South
Carolina, USA
v
INTRODUCTION
En lisant le rapport qui suit sur la cration du Bureau Linguis-
tique Inter-africain de l'OUA (BIL), on ne peut s'empcher
de louer l'esprit rvolutionnaire qui animait encore ~ 1966
les pres fondateurs de l'OUA'. L'Organisation de l'Unit Afri-
caine tait peine vieille de 3 ans; mais dj, non seulement les
chefs d'Etat et de Gouvernement Africains qui avaient fond
en 1963 notre Organisation, mais aussi les nouveaux dirigeants,
dont les pays venaient de devenir indpendants durant la
priode de juin 1963 juin 1966, avaient vite compris que
l'indpendance et l'unit de l'Afrique ne pourraient tre attein-
tes qu' condition de mener une lutte simultane sur les trois
fronts de la domination coloniale, savoir: le front politique,
le front economique et le front culturel et linguistique. On a
reproch la colonisation d'avoir domin, alin et divis
linguistiquement l'Afique. Pour promouvoir l'indpendance
et l'unit linguistique du continent, les Chefs d'Etat et de
Gouvernement dcidrent la cration du Bureau Linguistique
Inter-africain de l'OUA (BIL). Ceci tait une consquence
immdiate d'un article de la Charte de l'OUA qui stipule que
l'usage officiel des langues trangres ne sera que provisoire-
ment tolr.
La rapidit et les intentions avec lesquelles le BIL a t
cr contrastent avec la lenteur avec laquelle le Bureau a t
install et avec le manque d'applications concrtes de ses
objectifs par les gouvernements. Les peuples africains quant
eux ont accueilli avec normment d'enthousiasme tous
les manuels linguistiques publis par le BIL. On r ~ p p o r t
que le BIL n'a commenc ses activits qu'en janvier 1973,
soit 7 ans aprs la dcision de sa cration en 1966.
Les objectifs avous du Bureau tels qu'ils avaient t d-
finis par les pres fondateurs contrastent trangement avec la
politique culturelle et linguistique que la majorit des pays
africains ne cessent d'applique depuis 1960. Le BIL est charg
de promouvoir l'usage pratique des langues africaines l'in-
trieur de chaque Etat et entre Etats membres de l'OUA.
vi
Mais c'est un trs petit nombre d'Etats qui encouragent chez
eux la pratique des langues africaines. Les langues trangres
coloniales sont, dans la majorit de nos pays, plus favorises
qu'avant l'indpendance.
L'ide d'indpendance linguistique n'est en pratique pas
suivie par la trs grande majorit des dirigeants et des lites
africains. L'unification linguistique au moyen d'une langue
africaine l'intrieur d'un pays et entre pays voisins n'est pas
non plus une des proccupations des dirigeants africains actuels.
Tandis que l'indpendance linguistique est presque .rejete, on
croit que l'unit linguistique africaine sera mieux ralise par
des langues trangres europennes'. Ainsi l'attitude des diri-
geants africains actuels contraste avec celle qu'avaient ceux
qui ont dcid de crer le BIL.
Depuis son installation en 1973 ce Bureau ne se dveloppe
pas: le prsonnel et le budget de fonctionnement sont main-
tenus leur minimum initial de 1973. Le Bureau ne dispose
que de deux linguistes, pour s'occuper de tous les Etats africains
qui ont au total pas moins de mille langues vivantes. n a t
maintenu dans une situation prcaire pendant 7 ans depuis
son dbut, cause de l'attitude actuelle des lites et des diri-
geants africains v i ~ v i s du problme linguistique africain.
Nous nous proposons dans cette brochure de faire changer
cette attitude nfaste en avanant des arguments nouveaux en
faveur de l'indpendance et de l'unit linguistique des pays
africains. Nous prsentons dans deux communications de politi-
que linguistique les ides qui auraient pu prcder et provoquer
la cration du BIL, s'il tait vrai que les arguments scientifiques
sont un pralable l'action politique. Mais il est heureux de
constater que, si la cration du BIL a t due une vision et
une dcision politiques, son maintien et son dveloppement se
justifient scientifiquement. Nous demandons nos politiciens
de prendre, sans poser des conditions pralables, des initiatives
politiques qui sont en faveur de l'usage et du dveloppement
des langues africaines.
Les deux articles de fond qui constituent cette brochure
dmontrent sparment que les gouvernements africains se
v
trompent, en accordant aux langues europennes comme
pendant la colonisation des privilges exclusifs dans l'ducation
et l'administration. Le dveloppement technique et conomique
qui est avec raison notre objectif prioritaire de pays sous-
dvelopp est entrav par une barrire linguistique qui spare
la minorit dirigeante et les populations.
n est vident que la majorit de la population doit tre
amene contribuer l'effort du dveloppement et que toute
barrire de communication doit tre rompue en faveur du
moyen de communication dtenue par cette majorit. Mais les
dirigeants, qui sont la minorit, continuent faire rompre la
barrire linguistique en leur propre faveur, en consacrant des
nergies nonnes l'apprentissage des langues coloniales,
qu'eux mmes ne matrisent pas encore trs bien.
Notre but n'est pas d'imposer nos points de vue. Mais nous
souhaitons que les dirigeants africains reconnaissent que
l'Afrique souffre d'un problme linguistique et qu'ils en ouvrent
un dbat, au lieu de se comporter comme si, en imposant
leurs populations l'usage obligatoire d'une' langue trangre
coloniale, toute question linguistique tait dfInitivement
rgle. En thorie il ne semble pourtant pas que nos dirigeants
voudraient nous dbarrasser compltement de nos cultures et
de nos langues. La preuve en est que ces' dirigeants ont pass
et passent encore beaucoup de rsolutions en faveur des langues
africaines, l'OUA et l'Unesco. Mais malheureusement ces
rsolutions ne sont pas mises en pratique dans nos pays. Les
propositions concrtes et ralistes contenues dans cette bro-
chure devraient satisfaire tout le monde: d'abord les populations
africaines majoritaires qui y verront les moyens de participer au
progrs de leurs pays respectifs en utilisant leurs langues; et
ensuite les lites occidentalises qui y verront aussi un moyen
de prserver leur hritage linguistique colonial.
Kahombo Mateene
viii
RAPPORT SUR LES FONCTIONS
ET LES ACTIVITIES DU BUREAU
LINGUISTIQUE INTERAFRICAIN
,
DE-----I:- O:U:A.---
/ /par John Kalema
RAPRORT SUR LES FONCTIONS ET LES ActIVITES DU
. BUREAU 'LINGUISTIQUE INTERAFRICAINDEL'OUA '
, .,
- .:.: . fi, . , j' , , '
..
"La: dcision> : d'tablii'le' BUreau' Lirigistiq >Inter-africain
db ;l'QUA; (BILra'tpme'it'1966 par'l'Assemble des Chefs
d'Etat et de Gouvernement qui, en votanflaResolution'AHG/
pec .. ,qu'on
1 .
dsignait alors par le terme de "Comit
stique."
jusqu'au . .ie de
la Rpublique de rgand'vait lanc uneliivittin'demandant
au Directeur, duBIL de, venir :commencer' le
que le 'Bureau commeIa> ,fonttionnet ,la:: mme ; '8iihe
Kampala. ", " , '>: :. :
. ,. '1,
. 'La porte 'des' actMtsa,lJureau fells le
document SC/CUL T 70, . qui: explique' et'; justifie' son '<tab-
lissement, est comme ci-aprs:
(a) Entreprendre, et la .et le
dveloppement dans .
. ' . . . . . .
(b) . parrm,mer. e.t; la recherche et
dans le cadre de la meilleUfe
pour l'enseIgnement des langues locales afncames; aIder au
auXiliaiies pdagogiqueS et de l'quipe-
mentncessaireette fin.' ;'; , " ' " "
Dans le cas o il y aurait une demande manant
des Etats membres, les activits similaires" peuvent" tre
pour ce qui concerne d'autres langues non am-
, .. ,
1
(c) Aider et encourager l'utilisation des langues africaines
locales dans les domaines de l'ducation, du commerce et
des communications, et ce un niveau national, rgional
et continental.
(d) Entreprendre, parrainner et coordonner la formation d'in-
terprtes et de et aider ces derniers et d'autres
membres du personnel technique, tel que seataires et r-
dacteurs de compte-rendus faire leur conversion pour leur
permettre d'utiliser les langues locales. Dans le cas d'une
conversion des secrtaires et des rdacteun de compte-
rendus, cela peut entrarner la mise en place d'un programme
o serait dveloppe la pratique de la stnographie appli-
que aux langues locales;
Entreprendre, parrainner et coordonner la formation de
professeurs de langues;
(f) Parrainner et encourager la rdaction de livres par les
Africains spcialement dans les langues locales
(g) Entreprendre, encourager et favoriser la traduction de
manuels et d'autres livres dans les langues locales dont
l'usage en Afrique est largement rpandu;
(h) Organiser des dbats entre les fonctionnaires et les spcial-
istes de ces activits l'intrieur des Etats membres dans
le but d'amliorer et de rendre plus efficaces les services que
le Bureau est cens rendre aux Etats membres.
Les fonctions du Bureau pourraient d'aprs <'"e qui prcde
tre subdivises en trois parties:
(a) la vulgarisation et le dveloppement des langues locales,
(b) l'expansion de la production de livres dans des buts du-
catifs et autres,
(c) la runion de spcialistes dans ces domaines en vue de
discuter de la manire de rendre plus efficaces et plus utiles
les services qu'est cens rendre le Bureau aux Etats:membres.
m. LaJustification
Tous les trois domaines d'activit du BIL tels que mention-
ns plus haut ont t considrs comme essentiels aux besoids
2
de dveloppement des Etats Membres et au renforcement de la
co-opration et de l'unit inter-africaines. Les faits saillants du
raisonnement qui justifie ce point de vue sont exposs dans le
document S.C/CULT/6/2.70 et sont rsums dans les paragra-
phes 1 - 3 ci-dessous.
1. Vulgarisation et dveloppement des Langues Africaines
La place des langues autochtones dans les activits journali-
res des Etats membres de l'OUA est assure. Jusqu' prsent les
langties ne constituent pas seulement un moyen d'ex-
pression et de "communication, mais donnent galement un
sens plus profond et plus riche aux attributs culturels des
divers groupes africains.
Le tout premier sommet des Chefs d'Etat et de Gouverne-
ment africains au cours duquel rOUA a t fonde en 1963,
avait espr vulgariser les langues locales la rsolution qui
stipule: "l'introduction aussitt que possible des programmes
dans les principales langues africaines dans les stations de radio
des diffrents ,Etats africains et les changes de programmes de
radio et de tlvision". Mme en ce temps l, on avait reconnu
que la multiplicit des langues africaines taient la fois cultu-
rellement avantageuses et commercialement et autrement
'
C'est ainsi qu'ont t cres ce qu'on a appel les "barrires
linguistiques" parmi les Africains. Celles-ci doivent tre brises,
et le Bureau Linguistique Interafricain que l'on propose de
crer devrait tre la pointe du combat qui entend briser les
barrires des langues locales; le Bureau entend en effet aider
les Africains ' communiquer dans des langues qui sont africai-
nes d'origine. Beaucoup de rsolutions de l'OUA ont fait appel
aux Etats membres pour non seulement donner priorite dans les
programmes scolaires l'enseignement pratique des langues
natales, mais aussi pour activment promouvoir les transactions
commerciales de tous genres entre Etats.
Si, quittant les secteurs de l'enseignement et de la formation,
on aborde le problme des 'changes commerciaux, on s'aperoit
que l'absence de langues autochtones de communication com-
3
mune est d'une faon ou pour quelque chose dans
la raret des changes commerciaux qui existent prsentement
entre les Etats membres.
En aidant et en encourageant l'utilisation des langues autoch-
tones comme moyen de transaction commerciale et ducative
entre les Etats, le Bureau contribuerait acclrer l'limination
des langues, 'trangres de la communaut africaine. Ainsi en
participant' activement la vulgarisation et au dveloppement
des langues autochtones, le hterait .le o les
africaines seules: seraient utilises. lors des. Confrences
de l'OUA, et cela est en' conformit avec les nombreux textes
qui stipulent qU,e '1es langues de trayail de l'Organisation ainsi
que . de' toutes ses institutions seront si possible des langues
africaines." A supposer qu'il n'y ait pas d'autres lments
considrer, la raison qui pousserait la a:ation 4u Bureau
Linguistique,Interafricain serrut d'oeuvrer dans le d.'une
ralisation de cet espoir qu'un jour langues africaines seules
utilises. dans les runions l'OUA, et que les changes
d'ordre commercial ou autre seront par l-mme facilits. Les
autre$ fonctions, telles qu'elles dans le premier
paragraphe: la formation des pr.ofesseurs de langues,
des interpr.tes et des,traducteurs pour qu'ils utilisent les langues
autochtones .. sont tous lis l'objectif principal qui consiste
vulgariser et dvelopper les langues autochtones pour une
utilisation nationale, rgionale et continentale.
2. La Production des Livres
C'est un fait admis par la plupart des ducateurs' qui s'occu-
pent de l'Afrique qu'en'comparaison de l'importance de sa
population et .. 'particulirementdes habitants qui lisent,
l'Afrique demande beaucoup plus de livres qu'elle n'en produit
actuellement.
L'importation de livres s'est surtout rvle tre plutt une
me5re destine parer au plus press, et qui s'avre de plus en
plus insuffisante pour les besoins de l'ducation et du dvelop-
pement des Etats membres, sans compter qu'elle provoque une
hmorragie en devises trangres qui sont si prcieuses et qui
peut tre vite. D'autre part de nombreuses runions ont t
tenues, qui toutes invariablement recommandent de redoubler
4
d'efforts en vue d'inciter les crivains autochtones produire
davantage de livres pour l'Afrique. Le problme qi corisiste
parer' la raret des livres scolaires bon march a t 'considr
l'une des.conditions fondamentales si l'on 'entend laborer un
enseignement ,d'ordre -gnral aussi bien qu'un enseignement '
caractre ,scientifique et . technique. Ce processus ne pourrait
se trouver qu'acclr par:; l'existence d'un nombre croissant
d'auteurs autochtones qui criraient dans la, Janguedu pays,
des livres destins bien aux colesqu 'au grand public
lettr. L'accroissement du nombre des auteurs 'autochtones
et la rapide expansion d'autre part des installationS
propres pro,duetio.n...de livres locaux ne pourront
que contribuer de faon un quilibre
suffisant en matire de livres caractre ducatifou autres.
l " . .,
Parmi les activits du bure.au. interafricain ,dont 0"'" 'ropose
la cration figurent l'ide consistant parraimier :et en ' .. '.
ager chez les Africains la tendance rdiger toutes sortes
d'ouvrages ayant pour, auteurs des Africains et notamment dans
des langues autochtones, ainsi que celle qui favoriserait une
de livres - singulirement dans le pda-
gogique. La production de livres de toutes sortes se trouverait.
accrue par la traduction de livres vers les
langUes autochtones ou des langues plus Jarge
et le bureau qu'on se propose de crer est cenS galement en-
courager cet asp'ect de la production de livres. '
3. Dbats Entre Spcia1istes
Quant au dernier groupe d'activit du Burea1:l, celui qui
corisiste , des dbats entre des fOD:ctionnair:es et' des
spcialistes l'intrieur des Etats membres, il donnerait l'oc-
casion, aux participants d'changer des :vues, de s'enrichir les
uns les autres de leurs expri.ences mutuelles, en mme temps
qu'il donnerait l'o,ccasionde .. dterminer les domaines o le
bureau pourrait le mieux servir les intrts des Etats
On pourrait regarder ces runions si elles sont convenablement
organises, et si on leur pen;net de faire des recommandations
qui serviraient de base d'action pour l'avenir, comme suscep-
tibles d'insuffler une nergie invisible l'effort de, dvelop-
ment des Etats membres.
5
4. Les Ralisations
La tche phnomnale de briser les barrires linguistiques
entre les Africains, pour en fm des comptes arriver l'unit
linguistique du continent, peut tre prati.quement attaque
travers des encouragements plus vastes pour"la -cQnnaissance
et l'usage des langues principales africaines. Dans ce -ontexte,
le Bureau s'est mis depuis 1975 dans la prparation et la pub-
lication de manuels bilingues qui ont pour but de faire apprend-
re certaines langues africaines en utilisant comme seul moyen __
d'autres langues africaines. Cet emploi de langues
comme seul moyen ce;. acces-
sibles au plus grand nombre des lecteurs africains qui, sans cela,
d'abord .langue non Afri-
P9UC ime autre langue afrlcame par la lecture,
la plupart des crits de ce genre sont surtout dispon-
ibles dana des langues trangres l 'Afrique.
La premire publication du Bureau conforme ce qui pr-
cde tait Yekola Kiswahili - ]ifume Lingala qui parut en
1975. Cette publication avait particulirement pour but de
faciliter l'usage de deux langues inter-africaines, le Kiswahili
et le fuigala, au-4el de leurs frontires initiales. La
impression de 5000 exemplaires fut vite .puise par les locut-
eurs du kiswahili dsireux d'apprendre le lingala et vice versa.
Le- manuel lingala - kiswahili a t suivi en 1977 par la paru-
tion de Yiga Kiswahili - ]ifume Luganda qui tait destin
aux locuteurs de luganda dsireux d'apprendre le kiswahili,
qui cette poque, avait t dclar langue nationale de
l'Uganda. Ce livre aussi avait paru avec une impression initiale
de 5000 exemplaires qui furent puiss en moins d'un an.
Tous les deux manuels Lingala-Kiswahlli et
hili ont t r-dits et republis chacun dans une seaonde
dition en 1979, grce la grande demande dont ils sont
l'objet.
Encore sur cette voie de publication, le Bureau, depuis le
dbut de 1979, a comment diter et publier conjointement
avec l'Institut International Africain (lAI) de Londres la revue
savante African Languages/Langues Africaines. Cette revue se
consacre principalement la publication d'articles relatifs
6
l'usage des langues" africaines en gnral, aussi bien qu' Ie\lr
usage de communis:ation ducative, administrative et
tique. Elle publie des articles prsentant des des
problmes et leun; solutions ventuelles dans grffiIe varit
de domaines, en accordant une attenti9a" pattiqlire aux
politiques linguistiques nationales, sociolingui-
stiques qui se rapportent et les implications
changements de ces politiques;
elle publie concernant la planification de
la formation des matres et de la composition des manuels
pour les rendre disponibles en nombre et en quantit suffisants;
et aussi l'orthographe, la standardisation et modernisation des
langues africaines. Un certain nombre d'articles spcialement
commands par le Bureau et traitant de la place, du rle et de
la valeur des langues. africaines en Afrique paratront dans cette
revue.
Sachant qu'il est ncessaire de rendre !'.Afrique-conscinteet
de l'informer sur les. c:J\reloppements des langues africaines
qui ont lieu parmi nous, et conscient aussi de notre grand be-
soin partager nos problmes et nos expriences, tous les
niveaux, dans un domaine o nos expriences du et du
prsent sont si semblables, le Bureau' a pris l'inititive d'entrer
en contact avec d'autres centres de langue et de linguistique
. membres. Pendant ranne 1978-1979, le personnel du
'"Bureau a rend aesVisftes de contact de nombreux centres
Zambie, et au Nigria'. Ces visites se sont
profitables au Bureau et aux centres visits.
Ajoutes sa participation active beaucoup des rencontres,
des confrences et des symposium internationaux de chaque
anne, de telles activits de la part du Bureau, susciteront
sans doute probablement une conscience et une apprciation
plus ralistes des problmes linguistiques de l'Afrique, pro-
blmes qui, dans la majorit des pays africains, exigent qu'on
r-examine les politiques linguistiques en cours.
5. Taches Venir et Propositions
Le Bureau a l'intention de continuer entreprendre toutes
les diverses activits qu'il a jusqu'ici entreprises. En particulier,
on poursuivra la prparation et la publication d'un plus grand
1
LA FAILLITE DE L'EMPLOI
OBLIGATOIRE DES LANGUES
EUROPEENNES EN AFRIQUE
ET LES AVANTAGES D'UNE
POLITIQUE D'INDEPENDANCE
LINGUISTIQUE
par Kahombo Mateene
- ' ... -
LA FAILLITE DE L'EMPLOI OBLIGATOIRE DES LANGUES
EUROPEENNES EN AFRIQUE ET LES AVANTAGES D'UNE
POLITIQUE D'INDEPENDANCE LINGUISTIQUE
par Kahomb.o Mateene
INTRODUCTION
Le fait le plus vident est que tous les pays africains emploie-
nt les langues europennes qui.sont celles de leurs anciennes m:::
tropoles; ,dans la quasi totalit de leurs affaires officielles, et
ce, 'presque l'exclusion t au dtriment de leurs langues
nationales africaines. l'arabe est progressivement
employ comme langue officielle du gouvernement' et de la
presse dans certains pays arabo-africains, comme l'Algrie,
la Libye et l'Egypte. Cette tendance de faire occuper par la
langUe natiomlJ. la place ,dominante dans l'administration a
t adopte par la Somalie. quand, il y a quelques annes; celle-
ci a cess de considrer l'italien, -l'anglais et l'arabe comme
langue officielles privilgies, et a impos le somali comme
langue officielle prfrentielle.
Parmi les pays africains __ multilingnes, la Tanzanie semble
tre la seule qui ait jusqu'ici adi>pt 'une politique claire visant
rendre une langue nationale la seule langue officielle du pays.
Pour la grande majorit des pays africains, les langues nationales
ne sont que timidement employes la radio, presque jamais
employes comme moyen de communication gouvernementale,
et tr,s rarement comme vhicules de transmission des connais-
sances; ' l'cole ou dans la presse crite. Dans des dommnes
aussi importants que ceux-l, les maintiennent le
statut privilgi que les pays trangers colonisateurs, les pays de
l'Europe occidentale, ont accord, en Afrique, lerslangues, il
y a environ cent ans. Ainsi les pays africains emploient obliga-
toirement des langues coloniales dans presque tous
les' domaines importants . les langues nationales devraient
13
avoir libre cours ou -un droit d'exclusivit. Nous sommes
ainsi amens admettre que tous les pays africa.l!-s .sont- au-
jourd 'hui linguistiquement de l'Europe occidentale
dont ils se dclarent politiquement indpendants.
Normalement on ne doit se porter dpendant ou "protg"
de quelqu'un que o l'on est soi-mme d-
faillant ou indigent. C'est ainsi par exemple que notre manque
de moyens conomiques nous fait dpendre conomiquement
de l'Europe. __ Mais dans le domaine des langues, un peuple ne
devraitempiunter les langues d'autrui que s'il n' a pas sa propre
langue ou s'il a migr dans un pays tranger. Or on a tellement
de langues en Mrique. Paradoxalement, c'est cette diversit
linguistique, le prtendu sous-dveloppement scientifique et
le manque de statut international des langues africaines qui
servent de prtextes aux tenants du pouvoir, aussi bien actuel
que celui du rcent pass colonial, pour maintenir la domination
d'une minorit linguistiquement occidentalise sur des popula-
tions qui en majorit parlent des langues africaines.
L'objet de cet expos est de montrer les mfaits et la faillite
du maintien des langues europennes comme langues obliga-
toires officielles et exclusives en Afrique. Je ferai ressortir en
mme temps les. avantages pour l'indpendance ,culturelle,
politique et conomique de l'emploi officiel, massif et gnra-
lis des langues nationales africaines. Enfin je rfuterai les
trois faux prtextes voqus plus haut, - savoir, le sous-dve-
loppement scientifique, le caractre non-international et la
diversit de nos langues, qui font prfrer celles-ci les langues
d'importation europenne.
1. MEFAITS DE NOTRE DEPENDANCE LINGUISTIQUE
SUR L'EUROPE
1. Notre alination linguistique au nom de, science et du
progrs technique .
Si les Africains, au'lieu de que les langues colonia-
les les maintierment dans une qui reste bannir, con-
14
tinuent accorder ces un statut officiel, c'est qu'ils
croient tort que ces langues leur donnent des privilges, les
plus mentionns tant d'ordre scientifique. C'est tort qu'on
eroif que-la scienee-erla technique sont l'apanage des langues
europennes. Ce n'est pas une langue qui fait les dcouvertes
scientifiques, c'est l'esprit humain. Cela serait faux de dire
que les Africains n'ont pas fait des dcouvertes parce que
leurs langues taient pau'1es, ou que-certains africails- fQnt
maintenant des dcouvertes uniquement parce qu'ils parlent ds
-est- un -moyen d'expression, et
elle a toujours un mcanisme qui lui pennet d'exprimer tout ce
qu'un locuteur lui demande d'exprimer. Les sciences, si elles
ont t conues et apprises travers une langue, elles peuvent
toujours tre interprtes et rendues dans n'importe quelle
autre langue. Ainsi aucune langue n'est vraiment plus privil-
gie scientifiquement qu'une autre. Par exemple, la physique
nuclaire est peut-tre une invention europenne, mais on
peut aussi fabriquer une bombe atomique en chinois; les japo-
nais n'ont peut-tre pas invent l'informatique et le transistor,
mais c'est peut-tre eux qui produisent aujourd'hui les meil-
leurs instruments lectroniques. Il n'y a aucun avantage pour
nous locuteurs bilingues de. nous acharner faire taire nos
habitudes linguistiques naturelles et refuser de les dvelopper
pour seulement promouvoir des nou\lelles habitudes lingui-
stiques qui devraient seulement nous servir d'instruments pro-
visoires d'enrichissement, de dveloppement et de modification
de nos habitudes naturellement acquises. L'alination qu'imp-
lique le rejet dans l'oubli de nos langues natales pour l'acqui-
sition exclusive de neuvelles languestrarigres par des moyens
artificiels ne constitue pas un privilge dans le domaine scienti-
fique et technique. Au contraire le temps trop long que nous
consacrons l'aprentissage financirement trs cher des langues
trangres, considres comme condition de notre apprentissage
des matires. scientifiques et techniques, ne fait que prolonger
notre retard dans ces domaines o . nous essayons de nous
rattraper.
2. La barrire linguistique dans le domaine de l'administration
n n'y a pas de privilge de parler,une langue plutt qu'une
autre. Cep.endant l'usage et les bonnes manires exigent qu'un
tranger s'efforce d'employer la mme langue que son hte. En
15
Afrique conquise, c'est nous les htes qui avons t obligs de
parler les langues de nos C'tait un
de ces derniers et de soumission de notre part. On n a Jamais dit
que c'tait parce que nous tions incapables' 'd'tre gouverns
en nos propres langues. Mais il tait
lZintrt des colonisateurs, la conque te mihtarre ou pohtl-
que soit. couverte par une conqute linguistique, le tout ayant
comme but final l'exploitation conomique.
Ainsi ds le dbut, notre apprentissage forc langues euro-
pennes tait non pas un bienfait, mais une servitude,. signe de
notre dpendance. Est-il vrai que notre accession l'ind-
pendance politique a c'hang les mfaits de la politique linguis-
tique coloniale en bienfaits? Au contraire, les pays africains
politiquement. indpendants et qui sont dtermins sortir
du sous-dveloppement, voient leurs problmes s'accrotre de
jour en jour, parce qu'ils ont nglig de remettre en question la
politique linguistique hrite de la colonisation. On a renvers
les tenants du pouvoir, politique on commence
remettre en question les structures conomiques, parfois le
systme conomique lui-mme; il semble paradoxal que la
politique linguistique soit le seul domaine qui ne doive pas
tre revise parce que le colonialiste n 'y aurait fait que du bien.
A la lenteur proprement administrative dont se plaignent tous
les peuples du monde les Africains gouverns au moyen de
langues trangres doivent justement ajouter la barrire linguis-
tique qui les spare de leurs governements. .
3. Le Manque d'un enseignement proprement national
Pour accder l'enseignement, mme primaire, il faut con-
nartre une langue europenne, langue pour la presque
totalit des enfants africains.en ge de scolarit, qui parlent dans
leurs foyers et dans la rue une langue natale ci.fricaine. L'du-
cation et l'enseignement qui sont des droits absolus sont ainsi
conditionns la connaissance' d'une langue europenne.
Nous avons des systmes d'enseignement qui dpendent des
langues europennes.' Nous sommes tous obligs dans nos pro-
pres 'pays respectifs de connatre une langue trangre pour
avoir accs l'enseignement national, mme dans nos villages
natal! Pis encore, l'apprentissage de cette langue
16
qu'on doit payer a la. priorit sur toutes les autres branches.
Tout se passe comme si nous tions des migrs nouvellement
venus qui voudrions rattraper un retard qui serait prjudiciable
notre rapide naturalisation et assimilation par notre pays
d'accueil. On entend quelques uns de nos dirigeants dire:
',:Je veux que tous' les enfants apprennent'en anglais ds l'cole
primaire pour qu' l'universit ils cessent dsormais de commet-
tre les fautes anglaises qui' font la honte de notre enseignement
suprieur." Mais on' pourrait rpliquer: les savants japonais
ont.i1s vraiment honte de parler mal l'anglais, ou le russe, ou
mme de. ne. pas du tout parler le franais. Un Italien doit
tre .plutt honteux de ne. pas connatre l'italien et pas le turc.
L'enseignement tout entier est confondu avec l'apprentissage
d'une langue vhiculaire, trangre. Or, d'aprs B. Verhaegen,
cet enseignement bas sur les langues trangres ne fait que
transformer des travailleurs ruraux en hmeurs
urbains. '.
4. la production des livres et des joumax
Cpmme de ce qui prcde, citons l'importation de la
culture et. de tous. ses instruments, tels les livres, les journaux,
les films cinmatographiques, les disques, etc .. n s'agit
surtout ici de.la culture dite littraire qui est la forme la plus
dangereuse pour draciner ou dformer les esprits des gens
ou des nations; elle' s'adresse en effet ce qui est immatriel
dans l'homme.
Parce. que no:us sommes encore en train d'apprendre les
trangres dans nos scolaires,
noris ne sommes pas encore en .mesure d'crire nos propres
livres dans ces langues. Et, aussi longtemps que nous
fmi de lire ces livres .trangers, si nombreux, si bons et
beaux, nous n'aurons pas besoin d'crire,les ntres. Et mme
sj l'on parle aujourd'hui du livre africain en langue europenne,
il s'agit des qui ont reu des acadmies
leurs sige en Europe.et leurs.reprsentants
parmi nous en Afrique. Dans la plupart des pays, l'dition du
livre est une activit conomique qui contribue au dveloppe-
ment d'un pays. En 'Afrique la production des livres, si elle
existef dpend srement de l'Europe, et ce cause deS langues
employes dans ces livres. .
17
Mais on dit aussi qu'une industrie indpendante du livre ne
serait pas rentable en Afrique, l'heure actuelle. Cela est vrai
parce que le tirage de l'dition des livres est trop rduit,
cause du public ou des lecteurs eux-mmes au nombre trs,
rduit, et auxquels sont destins les livres; mme le tirage des
soi-disant grand journaux quotidiens des capitales africaines ne
dpasse pas 50,000 exemplaires dans ces villes de plus d'un
million d'habitants. Les langues utilises par les diteurs des
livres et des journaux constituent un handicap pour les diteurs
qui soht forcs de vendre peu, aussi longtemps qu'ils impri-
meront dans des langues connues par une lite minoritaire.
Il faudra des sicles avant que la majorit des populations dans
un pays africain sache lire et consommer une littrature exclu-
sivement crite en anglais ou en francais.
5. Le Manque de vulgarisation des connaissances
Si la vulgarisation scientifique et l'assimilation des techniques
de tous genres jouent un rle dans le dveloppement conomi-
que d'une nation, on peut alors dire que le dveloppement
conomique lui aussi est li la langue employe comme vhi-
cule de la transmission des connaissances. Un pays dvelopp,
c'est un pays o la majorit de la population fait p r o ~ s s r le
pays, chacun dans son domaine d'activit. On ne parle pas de
pays o il y aurait une lite minoritaire conomiquement
dveloppe. Un pays sous-dvelopp, c'est un pays o la majori-
t de la population ne participe pas au progrs national, mme
si on y trouve une minorit qui jouit du mme degr de riches-
ses et de bien-tre que dans les pays les plus avancs du monde.
Nous avons une main-d'oeuvre abondante laquelle il ne
manque que le savoir faire qu'elle pourrait acqurir si les tech-
niques lui taient transmises dans une langue qu'elle. connat.
Si l'on veut une participation rapide du peuple au dveloppe-
ment d'un pays, il faut vulgariser les techniques. L'ignorance
de nos populations est une cause de notre retard dans le domai-
ne technique et conomique.
La voie vers les connaissance techniques qui liminent l'igno-
rance est barre nos populations par la. nature des moyens
linguistiques de transmission de ces connaissances.
18
En vue d'liminer l'ignorance, les connaissances ncessaires
au dveloppement devraient tre transmises par des moyens
faciles, rapides, c--d. des langues dj bien connues par nos
masses populaires, au lieu de s'acharner faire de l'acquisition
des langues trangres un pralabe au droit la tonnaissance.
Ce n'est qu'en changeant le moyen de transmission des con-
naissances, par l'adoption des moyens plus communs, plus
populaires, par la vulga.t:isation, que notre cono-
mique et sur l'Europe peut tre plus vite rduite.
La vulgarisation des techniques peut se faire immdiatement
dans les langues africaines avec le concours du petit nombre de
savants africains actuels qui connaissent encore leurs langues.
En effet, nous rptons que la science et les techniques sont
traduisibles. n est plus facile pour les populations d'assimiler
ce qui leur est transmis dans une langue naturellement connue
que de l'assimiler dans une langue qui elle-mme n'est pas en-
core tout fait bien matrise. n semble que ce sont les pays
qui ont choisi de traduire et de vulgariser dans leurs langues
les techniques trangres, qui sont en train de rattraper et
mme de dpasser les pays europens. Songeons la Chine et
au Japon dont l'indpendance est la mesure de leur indpe-
ndance linguistique. Un travail ne peut tre bien fait et tre
trs rentable conomiquement que s'il -est fait dans la langue
du travailleur.
6. Le Mauvais emploi de la radiotlvision africaine
Les stations africaines de radio-diffusion sont injustement
monopolises par les langues europennes,' sauf dans quelques
pays comme la Tanzanie, la Somalie et l'Ethiopie. En Ethiopie
le prestige de l'amharique est plus grand que.celui de toute autre
langue nationale reconnue, cause notamment de la radio qui
lui consacre 5 heures d'mission par jour, alors que l'anglais,
qui est la seconde langue officielle n'a qu'une heure et demie,
le franais et l'arabe chacun une heure et que 5. autres langues
africaines employes se partagent les 8. heures restant, sur un
total . de 16hs 30 d'mission par jour (Ref. The Ethiopian
Herald). Nous ne sommes pas contre tout usage d'une langue
19
europenne quelconque, mais notre indpndaitce linguistique
ne peut se raliser que si nos langues ont une priorit sur les
langues trangres dans tous les domaines.
- - - ~
II. DOMAINES ET AVANTAGES DE LA LUITE POSITIVE
POUR L'INDEPENDANCE LINGUISTIQUE:
L'ENSEIGNMENT ET SES RAISONS MULTIPLES
Aprs avoir considr la prpondrance qu'ont les langues
europennes dans tous les domaines d'activit des pays africains,
comme langues obligatoires de travail, nous voulons maintenant
suggrer les remdes pour rduire notre dpendance linguis-
tique sur l'Europe, dpendance qui est plus un mal qu'un bon
hritage de la colonisation. Le but fmal poursuivre long
terme sera de' rendre les langues africaines langues de travail
dans tous les domaInes de l'activit nationale. Comme notre
dpendance linguistique sur'l'Europe commence l'cole, et
que la plupart des mtiers s'apprennent l, il faut que les
langues africaines soient les langues de travail scolaire, c'est
dire vhicules de l'enseignement.
1. Efficadt
En premier lieu, l'efficacit et le succs mme de l'enseigne-
ment exigent qu'on emploie . une langue africaine connue plu-
tt qu'une langue europenne qui reste encore connatre. La
meilleure assimilation des matires enseignes se fait travers
une langue dj connue.
2. Raison Psychologique
Une' raison psychologique lie la prcdente est que le
moyen le plus favorable pour tablir un bon rapport entre le
matre et l'lve ds le premier jour de classe, c'est une langue
commune qui est la langue natale de l'enfant. Le vhicule d'en-
seignement doit tre libre de toute association avec la domina-
tion. C'est en refusant d'accepter la langue des dominateurs
Afrikaners comme langue obligatoire de l'enseignement second-
aire que des centaines d'adolescents noirs sont morts Soweto
entre 1976 et 1977 sous les balles de la police Sud-africaine
(d'aprsJ. Ziegler: 10).
20
3. Droit l'Education
De plus, l'usage des langues nationales ou natales africaines
est le seul garant de 'l'galit d'accs l'enseignement pour tout
le monde. Avec le systme actuel de l'enseignement bas sur les
eliropenpes, il n'y a qu'une certaine . classe sodale
d'enfants qui sortt admis et peuvent russir dans les coles.
Le clivage entre les mauvais lves et les boris lves en franais
ou en ne fait que s'agrandir.
Et le poids accord la russite dans une langue trangre
tel gu.e:les-Cclfcs. enregistrs dans les autres matires, mme
SCientifiques, sont' considrs comme sans importance. Quel-
qu'un qui aurait-russi en chimie, si l'examen avait t pass
dans' 'une 'langue africaine, ne sera pas admis dans' une classe
suprieure, parce qu'il a chou en franais. Ainsi notre systme
de contrle d'acquition des connaissances privilgie ceux qui
sont dous en langues et littratures trangres. Or ceci n'est
qu'une petite branche des actiVits d'une:: nation. Le danger
qu'il faudrait viter ici, c'est de perptuer la division dela popu-
lation en deux groupes nationaux, division linguistique qui a t
faite par la colonisation et qui est base sur le fait qu'un groupe,
connaissant mieux la langue coloniale, a accs un enseignment
considr comme meilleur, tandis que l'autre groupe, majori-
taire, celui-l, ne connat 'que des langues nationales africaines,
qui, par' dcision gouvernementale, ne lui donnent aucun droit
d'accder un . enseignement, utile et de valeur, et par cons-
quent. le condamnent rester dans une classe toujours igno-
rante, domine et complexe.
C'est ce systme perpendiculaire d'instruction que Peter
Enahoro a condamn dans un article du mensuel New African,
quand, en parlant' du Mal que nous ignorons, il compare l'ins-
truction . coloniale britannique l'instruction coloniale fran-
c;aise,. en disant: "Tandis que les Britanniques avaient tabli
un systme d'ducation horizontal, qui proportionnellement
amenait l'instruction plus de leurs sujets que dans les colonies
franaises, le systme perpendiculaire de la France avait 'donn
la meilleure 'ducation comparativement peu'des gens', 'don-
nant ainsi la Frane la rputation d'avoir accord aux Africai-
nS'une 'excellente et meilleure ducation ".
21
4. La Promotion des Langues elles-mmes
Une autre bonne raison de faire des langues africaines les
vhicules de l'enseignement, c'est la promotion de ces langues
que beaucoup de nos dirigeants ne cessent de chanter. Presque
partout on croit' promouvoir une langue africaine ds
qu'on a une heure ou deux d'mission radiodiffuse aux heures .. --
tardives de la soire.
_En supposant que cela soit suffisant, il semble logique que
l'emploi- des_langLles africaines la ra!Iio, la tlvision, dans
la musique, au cm.-ma-doit-tre __ simultan ,
sinon tre pralablement prcd par-l'enseignemenf de- cs
langues dans les coles, ne ft-ce que pour former les annon-
ceurs de la radio-tlvision et tous les autres musiciens-- et
acteurs, savoir bien lire leurs textes crits en langues afri-
caines.
Quand Brazzaville a introduit le lingala .1a radio et qu'on
a constat que personne ne savait crire et lire les nouvelles en
lingala, parce que l'enseignement se faisait exclusivement en
franais au Congo franais, on a fait appel aux congolais qui
avaient fait leurs tudes Kinshasa, parce qu'au Zaire les
langues africaines taient enseignes l'poque coloniale.
En fait, la vie moderne tant base sur l'criture et la lecture,
entre deux langues, celle qui s'crit a plus de prestige que
celle qu'on n'crit pas. On ne saurait promouvoir une langue ou
lui donner du prestige si on n'en fait pas un instrument indi-
spensable de l'enseignement, ou si on la limite l'usage oral.
C'est cause du systme actuel d'enseignement fait exclu-
sivement en langues europennes qu'on ne conoit pas qu'un
Africain, qui connatrait mme trs bien certaines langues
africaines, mais qui . ne . connat pas une langue europenne,
puisse avoir une instruction et tre considr comme intelligent.
O donc aurait-il eu son instruction? S'il se rclame tre un bon
mcanicien, dans ,quelle cole professionnelle aurait-il eu son-
apprentissage. Dans un tel systme, c'est la coimassnce des
langues trangres qui devient le critre d'apprciation des
aptitudes intellectuelles et professionnelles de quelqu'un. Je
ne vois pas pourquoi ce critre qu'on n'accepte nulle part
ailleurs doit tre d'application en Afrique. Ainsi donc, nos
22
langues sont rehauses et leurs locuteurs mieux considrs, si
elles font partie de l'enseignement moderne. Nous devons
cesser de perptuer ce syllogisme, "il ne parle que des langues
africaines, don.c il est Ignora.nt". En fait nous devons prouver
au monde que nous. pouvons. former, des ingnieurs et des
mdecins qui ne parlent pas une langue europenne. C'est le
cas en Extrme Orient. C'e&t un dfi glorieux.
L'attitude est dans ce:sens trs encourageant,
Kavugha dans un il:par3:ltre: " l'poque
de l'indpendance le swahili tait le moyen de communication
au del des barrires tribales. Toute personne qui ne pouvait
pas parler' tait considre par les autres membres de
la communaut comme une personne sans beaucoup
tion et dont les possibilits d
1
emploi taient trs limites."
,:: '
PrservatioJa et Dveloppement de l'authenticit Africaine
- .. ! :
Mme s'il est plus facile de jouir de ce que les autres ont
fait, il ne faudrait .pas ddaigner l'originalit en-disant: quoi
bon se _ fatiguer voulQir inventer autre chose, puisque l'Europe
s'est dveloppe dans tous . les domaines qui satisfont tous nos
apptits? Les gnrations futures qui seront' seules juger de
l'originalit du genre de, socit ,que nos leur aurons lgue
ne devraient que nous avions peur de nous.forger une
histoire diffrente du modle que nolIS a laiss la ,colonisation. n
ne faut pas non' plus de vue le - souvent ,constat
Africains trs tt en 13:llgues ne
matrisC!nt compltement ni leur langue de travail ni
leur langue dont ils n'ont souvent qu'une
orale rudimentaire.' dfaut de matrise dans aucune langue
chez les' AfriCains qui
duque et dirigeante un dfaut de soi et de per-
sonnalit. Cedse rpercute . sur l'esprit d'initia-
tive, d'innovation et ,sur le rendement _ et _ qualitatif,
au 'niveau' aussi bien' de l'individu que. _ de la collectivit. La
substitution -des langues africaines pat des langues trangres
enlve aux peuples africains leur assurance et leur originalit
distinctive, c--d :leur authenticit. La prservation et le dve-
loppement d'une 'personnalit africaine ne se conoivent pas en
dehors de la promotion des langues africaines par lesquelles
23
tant de valeurs et de traditions sont conserves et exprimes.
l
En fait si les africains alphabtiss en langues europennes ne
deviennent pas parfaits locuteurs de ces langues, tout en perdant
progressivement la matrise de leurs langues natales, c'est
cause de la persistence de l'influence qu'exerce toujours une
langue natale sur toute langue seconde. Cofnme on est mi-
chemin entre deux systmes linguistiques, on ne peut tre
que mdiocre dans son expressivit et surtout dans toute
activit de genre littraire; d'o ce fcheux complexe d'inf-
riorit, autre cause du sous-dveloppement mental, intellectuel
et scientifique.
Le fait qu'il y aura bientt des africains qui ne pratiqueront
pas une seule langue africaine ne va pas ncessairement signifier
que la connaissance et la pratique des langues europennes
seront meilleures. Le rsultat est une situation intermdiaire,
btarde, o ~ e s langues europennes sont pratiques avec beau-
coup d'interfrences de langues africaines. Une langue trangre
en devenant langue d'enseignement ne sera parfaitement connue
et pratique que quand elle devient la langue de tout le mond
dans toute les situations extra-scolaires, c--d, dans la rue, les
marchs publics et les foyers.
- -
6. Difficult d'assimilation parfaite ':les Langues trangres et
d'anantissement des Langues Natales actueDes
Les habitudes linguistiques acquises en premier lieu sont si
difficiles supprimer que la perfection dans. une langue tra-
ngre ne peut tre approximativement approche qu' la mort
complte de la langue natale dans le milieu o vit un locuteur
donn. Or personne ne peut prdire te jour o les langues
africaines seront toutes mortes pour donner lieu une pratique
parfaite des langues europennes par les africains. Les langues
africaines semblent se maintenir en vie par e l l e m m ~ s et il
n'y a pas de poison sr pour les liminer, part celui qui
peut liminer les personnes qui les parlent. Par contre si l'on
ne souhaite pas la mort lente de ces- langues, un moyen sr de
garantir leur survie parmi les gnrations venir, c'est leur
1. "C'est toujours beaucoup plus difficile sinon compltement impossible
de transmettre une tradition culturelle dans une langue trangre"
par Skutnabb-Kangas p. 5
24
donner une place dans l'enseignement. L'enseignement actuel
qui ne tient pas compte des langues africaines va bientt nous
montrer des africains qui ne pratiqueront pas de langue afri-
caine, surtout que certains parents s'interdisent de les parler
en prsence de leurs enfants, pour justement permettre ces
derniers de mieux matriser les langues europennes.
2
La
persistance des habitudes linguistiques et leurs cOnsquences
sont trs durables et traversent facilement les sicles et les
continents, comme le montrent les croles antillais qui ont leur
origine dans les langues africaines des esclaves qui furent forcs
de parler des langues europennes ..
7. Le Chmage Urbain
Aux avantages dj voqus il faut ajouter le fait que l'in-
struction en langues africaines favorise la vie et le dveloppe-
ment rural, au contraire de l'instruction en langues tn;mgres
qui provoque l'exode des jeunes vers les villes et le chmage.
Si la trs grande partie de nos populations vivent dans les
campagnes, o les langues de travail sont des langues locales,
ce n'est que normal que l'enseignement dispens ces popu-
lations se fasse en langues locales africaines. Apprendre dans
une langue trangre son milieu fait toujours penser que
les connaissances qu'on acquiert sont destines tre appli-
ques ailleurs, notamment en ville. La forme trangre de
l'enseignement est dj une cause de dracinement ou d'ali-
nation parce qu'elle prsage dj l'exode. Les langues europe-
nnes . tant des moyens de communication, des instruments, ou
des langues de travail des grandes villes, les scolaires
formes exclusivement dans ces langues ont raison de croire
qu'elles sont formes pour travailler en villes. Et si elles s'ef-
foraient de rentrer ou de rester dans les villages, elles trouve-
raient que la langue de travail du village n'est pas celle qu'elles
2. "Souvent il y a un'e correlation bien prouve entre une haute comp-
tence dans Une langue trangre et une haute comptence dans la
langue maternelle. Et vice versa il y a une bonne' raison de croire que
les enfants qui ne peuvent pas compltement dvelopper leur langue
maternelle ont des grandes difficults apprendre convenablement
une L2"
par Skutnabb-Kangas p. 15
25
ont apprise l'cole. Pour que l'cole ne soit pas la cause de
sparation entre l'lve et son milieu c'est--dire, pour qu'elle
ne produise pas des inadapts, l'instruction doit se faire, autant
que possible, dans la mme langues que la langue du foyer,
la langue de la rue et la langue des jeux ou des lieux du travail.
Cela permet l'change des thories et des pratiques entre les
vieilles et les jeunes gnrations, d'une part; et, d'autre part,
la libre circulation des connaissances et des populations entre les
villes et les campagnes. C'est ainsi que l'cole cesse d'tre une
institution trangre son milieu et que des parents peuvent,
sans complexe, visiter l'cole et s'informer sur le progrs de
leurs enfants.
Pour combattre efficacement le chmage en ville qui rsulte
de l'exode rural des jeunes, on devrait en principe instuire ces
derniers, jusqu' la fin du secondaire, en fonction de la vie et
du dveloppement rural, de sorte que, s'ils ne peuvent pas
continuer leurs tudes suprieures, ils puissent retrouver au
village une place convenable, et jouer un rle utile dans un
environnement rural.
8. Mthode d'Introduction Progressive' des Langues Africaines
o n n n ~ Vhicul's d'Enseignement de l'Ecole Primaire
Universit
L'introduction des langues africaines comme vhicules dans
l'enseignement doit tre radicale, c'est--dire qu'elle doit viser
atteindre l'universit, au lieu de se limiter aux niveaux inf-
rieur et moyen. Nous sommes convaincus qu'on peut utiliser les
langues africaines dans l'enseignement suprieur si on ls intro-
duit progressivement d'anne en anne. La langue qu'on utilise
et dveloppe en premire' anne primaire peut tre employe
l'anne suivante, en deuxime anne primaire, et tre prpare
pendant ce temps pour son emploi en Sme :anne. Une langue
qu'on emploie dans une anne se dveloppe pendant cette
anne-l pour tre lin vhieule. convenable l'anne suivante.
Ainsi une langue qu'on a employe en dernire anne primaire
est suffisamment dveloppe pour son usage en premire
anne secondaire. D'anne en anne du secondaire, cette mme
langue peut tre utilise et dveloppe jusqu'en dernire anne.
Si les difficults techniques peuvent ainsi tre rsolues d'une
26
anne l'autre, on ne voit pas de raison pdagogique qui emp-
cherait d'employer dans renseignement et universi-
taire une langue qu'on aura dveloppe au cours de son usage
pratique au niveau secondaire, moins que renseignement
suprieur ne dispense que des matires tout fait nouvelles
qu'on n'aura pas dj au niveau prcdent de
l'ducation. Or les matires sont gnralement les mmes entre
les niveaux secondaire et suprieur.
, '-
Cette mthode d'introduire l'usage des langues africaines dans
l'enseignement d'anne en anne jusqu'au niveau le plus lev
implique que le systme actuellement en vigueur ne sera limin
que progressivement, permattant ainsi ceux qui auront com-
menc dans un systme de terminer leurs tudes dans le mme
systme. La prparation des manuels scolaires qui se fait elle
aussi d'anne en anne peut prcder d'une anne ou deux la
mise en application du nouveau systme. Nous ne soutenons
pas les rformes qui prcorusent l'usage des langues africaines
dans certaines classes et un certain niveau au del duquel
les langues trangres maintiendraient leurs privilges.
Une telle limitation ne peut tre'qu'arbitraire, et implique
que nous ne voulons dvelopper, promouvoir et revaloriser nos
langues que dans une certaine mesure.
9. Raisons pratiques d'efficacit Politique, de Justice et de
Salut Vital de l'emploi Langues Nationales Locales
(a) Si un gouvernement veut que ses dcisions et ses lois
soient immdiatement, comprises et excutes par tous les
citoyens, le gouvernement et l'administration doivent se
drouler dans les langues usuelles des citoyens.
Le gouvernment doit adopter omme langue de travail une
ou langues de' son peuple. Cela permet aux citoyens de
participer aux affaires de l'Etat. Faire: le contraire en condition-
nant la participation du peuple aux"affaires politiques par leur
apprentissage forc d'une langue coloniale trangre, maintenue
cQmme langue administrative officielle, 'remet en questiop
l'indpendance de ce peuple. Au nom de quel principe peut-on
forcer' des citoyens connaftre une langue trangre pout
accder l'enseignemnt et l'emploi dans leur propre pays
indpendant?_ " ...
27
(b) L'usage des langues africaines dans les tribunaux vite aux
citoyens le risque norme d'tre mal compris ou mal dfen-
dus, et, par consquent, mal jug et injustement condamn,
s'il est forc de se servir d'une langue trangre.
(c) n en va de mme dans le domaine mdical ou de la sant
que dans le domaine judiciaire: une personne peut mourir
parce qu'elle n'a pas su dcrire dans une trangre le
mal dont elle souffrait. n est certainement plus humain au
mdecin de connaftre la . langue de ses patients que d'exiger
ces derniers de connaftre au pralable la langue du mde-
cin avant d'avoir droit aux soins mdicaux.
Le mdecin doit rendre ses bienfaits sans vouloir imposer sa
langue, comme l'instituteur qui veut transmettre son savoir
enseigne dans la langue de ses lves au lieu d'exiger que ces
derniers connaissent au pralable sa propre langue.
m. LES FAUX PRETEXTES DU
LINGUISTIQUE, DE LANGUE INTERNATIONALE ET
DU MULTILINGUISME
Aprs avoir jusqu'ici propos que les langues africaines soient
rendues langues de travail dans tous les domaines, c'est--dire,
en un mot, qu'elles soient rendues langues officielles de la
vie interne de nos Etats, essayons maintenant de rpondre
certaines objections qu'on formule trs souvent pour prouver
que ces langues ne sont pas appropries pour remplir ce rle.
1. Le sous-dveloppement scientifique des langues africaines
On dit que les langues africaines sont sous-dveloppes, et
c'est vrai; il est vrai aussi qu'elles sont dveloppables, mais
que fait-on pour les dvelopper? Presque rien. Or quand on dit
que nos conomies sont sous-dveloppes, on mobilise toutes
les nergies pour laborer des projets, des plans de dveloppe-
ment court et long terme; on n'hsite pas investir avec
beaucoup de risques. n faudrait qu'on fasse preuve du mme
empressement dans les domaines autres que le domaine cono-
mique, c'est- dire, qu'il. faudrait s'empresser de nos
langues, moins de faire croire que cela ne vaut pas la peine.
28
Le progrs conomique va ncessairement de pair avec le pro-
grs ralis dans les autres domaines.
Peut-on imaginer un pays qui serait trs avanc conomique-
ment et resterait sous-dvelopp pour tout le reste? On peut
penser que dans un tel pays rgne une minorit conomique-
ment forte qui s'est enrichie de son exploitation conomique
de la majorit du peuple, domin aussi bien politiquement,
socialement que culturellement. n s'agit donc d'un pays qui
n'est pas totalement indpendant.
La pauvret ou le sous-dveloppement des langues africaines
est une pauvret volontaire. Ces langues sont pauvres parce
que nous ne voulons pas les enrichir, en ne voulant pas les
employer dans certains domaines, comme l'enseignement, la
traduction, qui sont tous des facteurs d'enrishissemnt et de
dveloppement des langues. L'INDEX TRANSLATIONUM
publi annuellement par l'Unesco rvle que sur un total d'en-
viron 40,000 livres traduits chaque anne, presque aucun n'est
traduit dans aucne langue africaine. Par contre, l'allemand,
l'espagnol, le japonais, l'anglais, le hollandais, le norvgien,
le danois, l'hbreu et les langues de l'URSS viennent chaque
anne en tte de la liste des langues utilises dans la traduction
des livres parus en d'autres langues.
n ne dpend que de notre volont de dvelopper et d'enrichir
nos langues par le moyen de traduction. Au lieu de laisser
tomber nos langues en faveur des langues europennes dans le
vain espoir de rattraper notre retard scientifique et conomique,
il faut, faire assimiler la science et la technologie mondiale
par nos langues' originales. Les langues africaines aussi doivent
et ia science et s'adapter la .vie moderne
comme l'ont fait le japonais et le chinois. L'occident ne nous
a pas encore totalement assimils, nos langues ont la possibilit
de s'assimiler la science qUi fait la fiert d l'EUrope.
C'est apparemment la pauvret des langues africaines qui
nous oblige de continuer employer les langues trangres,
dj dveloppes, pour faire sortir nos pays du sous-dvelop-
pement. A ce propros je voudrais rappeler un fait que j'ai dj
mentionn plus loin, savoir qu'on ne peut pas faire sortir un
29
peuple du sous-dveloppement, si on ne fait pas participer tout
ce peuple au travail du dveloppement. Et si nous acceptons
de faire participer tout le peuple l'effort de construction
rapide de la nation, faudrait-il d'abord que tout le peuple se
concentre sur l'apprentissage d'une langue trangre destine
tre la langue officielle de la nation? '
Est-ce qu'on n'aboutirait. pas plus efficacement et plus
rapidement au progrs envisag, si, au lieu d'apprendre d'abord
une langue trangre pour apprendre ensuite les techniques
exprimes dans cette langue, on apprenait d'emble ces tech-
niques nouvelles, au moyen de traduction des langues tra-
ngres dans les langues locales africaines?
La rponse toutes ces questions est que si nous voulons
vraiment dvelopper effectivement les langues africaines, il
ne faut pas concevoir le dveloppement en termes de
pralable leur usage futur comme langues de travail . Poser
le problme de cette faon signifie qu'on se fixe un delai qui
ne peut tre qu'arbitraire, parce qu'il n'y a pas de critres srs
qui permettent de fixer le moment o une langue peut tre
considre comme ayant achev son dveloppement. n se
fait en effet qu'une langue ne cesse jamais de se modifier, de
s'adapter et de se dvelopper. Son tude, son apprentissage et
ies recherches qu'on peut faire sur elle ne rmissent jamais. Les
Europens continuent toujours tudier leurs langues, ils
continueront indrmiment en faire des recherches savantes
et les mettre de plus en plus jour.
n est presque impensable que nos enfants qui sont aujourd'-
hui duqus exclusivement en langues trangres et qui
tront et aimeront de moins en moins les langues africaines
puissent dans 20 ans dcider favorablement de revenir l'usage
de nos langues, en supposant que nous fixions maintenant un
delai d'environ 20 ans, au bout duquel 'tes langues devront
3' ilLe fait qu'une dcision concernant une rforme propose est remise
jusqu'au moment o l'on disposera des faits sars est une preuve d'un
manque fondamental de volont pour une telle rforme, c'est--dire,
un manque de volont politique".
par Skutnabb-Kangas p. 19
30
tre dveloppes. Il s'ensuit que c'est notre gnration actuelle
qui doit prendre ses responsabilits en introduisant ds main-
tenant l'usage de nos langues dans les diffrents domaines
o elles doivent se dvelopper. Le de nos'
langues dans le .domaine scientifique, par exemp)e, dpend de
leur confrontation pratique avec les sciences au moment du
travail de traduction et d'enseignement actifs. A propos de
traduction, il faut en passant dire qu'n plus' de son intrt
comme moyen de dveloppement linguistique, elle est une
activit comme le mtier d'interprtes qui peut fournir du
travail beaucoup des gens en Afrique. Le dveloppement
d'une s'il ne peut pas se concevoir indpendamment
de la pratique. et de l'action concrte, est finalement le rsultat
de l'usage qu'on'en fait.
1
Nos langues sont sous-dveloppes en expressions scientifi-
ques et techniques parce qu'on ne les a pas employe.s dans ces
domaines. Par contre 'des langues comme le japonais, l'hbreu,
le coren, le chinbis, le vietnamien, e't l'indonsien sont au-
jourd'hui fort aVaDcesparce qu'on les utilise dans tous les
domaines, bien qu'elles taient considres primitives par les
ocCidentaux n'y a pas trs longtemps.
Quant' aux langues europennes, leur dveloppement est li
au progrs technique et scientifique et leur usage qui n'a
jamais" cess dans "aucun domaine; et pourtant, compar. la
quantit et la' qualit du degr de leur dveloppement actuel,
les peuples et les langues europens taient primitifs, il y a
moins de 300 ans. Le dveloppement linguistique peut suivre
le dveloppement gnral d'un peuple qu' condition que la
langue de ce peuple soit utilise gnralement. Le dveloppe-
ment gnral Re rsulte pas du dveloppement linguistique.
n y a des pays europens trs arrirs dont les langues sont
pourtant parmi les plus dveloppes du monde.
C'est en fait notre situation de coloniss mentaux qui nous
fait encore employer cet argument de usous-dveloppement"
qui en cela mme retarde le dveloppement en question. C'est
ainsi que l'arabe est considr comme. suffisamment dvelopp
et est officiellement employ dans les pays du Moyen Orient
qui n'ont pas t . sous 'une' ,vritable colonisation europenne
31
tandis que les pays arabes de l'Afrique du nord qui ont subi la
vritable colonisation occidentale considrent que leur langue
arabe n'est pas suffisamment dveloppe pour tre employe
dans l'enseignement suprieur. Le sous-dveloppement linguis-
tique peut ainsi tre historiquement et politiquement motiv.
2. Le fait de ne pas Etre Internationales
A part le reproche de sous-dveloppes qu'on fait aux langues
africaines, on s'oppose aussi la proposition d'en faire les
langues officielles de nos Etats parce qu'elles ne sont pas des
langues internationales- ou diplomatiques. On dit qu'il vaut
mieux que les Africains connaissent les langues qui leur per-
mettent d'entrer en contact avec le monde extrieur. Cet
argument semble apparemment ws srieux, mais il faut faire
des distinctions.
Le <raractre international ou diplomatique d'une langue n'est
pas in1Jrinsque une langue particulire. Une langue l'acquiert
cause du prestige que le peuple locuteur de cette langue s'est
acquis aux yeux des autres peuples dans diffrents domaines,
par eXiemple en politique, en art militaire, en conomie, en
science, etc. . . Ce sont les ralisations exemplaires que nous
aurons faites dans nos langues qui donneront ces langues un
statut international. Le caractre international d'une langue,
parce qu'il suit le sort du peuple locuteur, n'est pas permanent.
Le gre4: fut international du temps de l'Empire grec; le latin
qui l'a remplac est une langue morte, depuis la chute de
l'Empme Romain; aprs s'tre maintenue comme langue savante
de l'lite occidentale europenne il a fmalement cd devant
les parlers locaux populaires de l'Europe du XVIe sicle. Ce
sont .le franais et l'anglais issus de ces mmes langues vulgaires
du XVIe sicle qui sont considrs aujourd'hui comme ternels
et qu'on nous propose de mettre la place de nos langues.
C'est l'histoire particulire un peuple qui explique aussi en
partie le statut international de sa langue, d'aprs la citation
ci-dessous, dans Bilingualism Edit. P. Horney, (p. 108). "Les
grandes langues mondiales d'aujourd'hui sont des langues
d'empire, actuel ou ancien. Seulement deux, le chinois manda-
rin et le russe continuent comme langues administratives l'in-
trieur d'un mme Etat composition ethnol.iI.Jguistique
diverse. Les autres: l'arabe, l'aDglais. le franais et l'espagnol
82
sont des hritages impriaux qui ont survcu la dsintgration
des empires qui les ont promues".
2.2. Nous devons distinguer entre connatre une langue inter-
nationale comme deuxime langue et faire d'une langue tra-
ngre internationale la langue de travail officielle interne de
toute une population aux dpens des langues natales de cette'
population .. Mme si la langue la plus
on constate qu'il n'est appris par la majorit de ses locuteurs
travers le monde que comme deuxime langue. Cela veut dire
que la majorit des gens qui parlent une langue internationale
connaissent au moits deux langues dont leur langue natale
od nationale est la premire.
Le besoin tant rel pour ch3;que pays d'entrer en relation
avec les autres pays du monde, tous les pays apprenent effect-
ivement les langues des uns et des autres. n ne serait pas ral-
iste ni utile de refuser aux Africains la possibilit de pouvoir
communiquer avec le monde extrieur. Mais, sauf en Afrique
Noire, dans tous les autres pays du monde, y compris les pays
d'Asie qui ont comme les ntres t sous domination coloniale,
l'apprentissage des langues est conu comme
celui d'une deuxime langue, c'est direcom.rile une matire et
non pas comme un moyen obligatoire De toute
faons . l'apprentissage d'une langue trangre, quand il fait
partie du programme de l'ellseignement
l
, gnral ordinaire, ne se
fait pas au dtriment des autres inscrites au program-
me. Cependant quand un besoin urgent se fait sentir, on recourt
trs souvent et trs l'organisation de cours
intensifs d'une langue trangre, cours destins une catgorie
de gens, souvent au-del du niveau de l'enseignement secon-
daire.
La mthode intensive est trs conomique et trs efficace,
elle permt de connatre une langue dans un temps trs court,
allant de 6 mois un an. Dans la plupart des pays, c'est la
plus employe pour prparer certains fonctionnaires des minis-
tres des affaires trangres, dont c'est prcisment la tche
de. traiter avec le monde extrieur. Les cours de langues tra-
'ngres peuvent donc, tre rservs aux tudiants en sciences
diplomatiques, qui peuvent se servir d'eux plus, immdiatement
33
que d'autres. Disons en passant que c'est la raison pour laquelle
dans certains pays, l'cole des langues trangres appartient au
Ministre des Affaires Etrangres. Mais, si nous acceptons que
de chercheurs africains ont besoin de connatre
une ou deux langues trangres, il est important de noter que
ces chercheurs post-secondaires peuvent intensivement appren-
dre ces langues pendant la courte priode qui prcde ,-leur
spcialisation. Ce n'est pas tout le monde qui va tre chercheur
ou diplomate; c'est pourquoi l'attention de toute la population
scolaire ne doit pas tre attire sur l'apprentissage d'une langue
dite internationale. En fait, un pays qui a des relations multi;.
latrales avec diffrents pays doit avoir un programme d'en-
seignement de langues aussi nombreuses que possible. C'est
certainement mauvais de concentrer l'nergie d'un peuple tout
entier l'apprentissage d'une seule langue trangre, au risque
de voir ce peuple tout entier orient vers l'extrieur d'o il
fonde tous ses espoirs, comme si rien de bon ne peut venir
de chez nous. Un changement d'attitude radical vis vis des
langues africaines s'impose. Elles sont officiellement ignores
dans nos systmes adminstratifs et alors que des pays
dont les langues sont internationales et trs dvelopes, comme
les USA et l'Union Sovitique, les font enseigner dans leurs
coles suprieures. Non seulement certaines puissances tra-
ngres eriseignent chez elles nos langues, mais ces puissances
contribuent effectivement au dveloppement de nos langues,
quand elles les emploient dans leur radiodiffusion en ondes
courtes et
1
dans leur presse crite, mme si c'est pour leur
besoin de propagande. Par contre la France, plus soucieuse
de l'assimilation de ses coloniss s'est toujour employs
faire oublier les langues de ces derniers et ne jamais les
employer sa radio et dans sa presse crite.
La radio franaise est unique au monde: on ne l'entend
jamais parler une langue africaine. On dit aussi que c'est par
peur du remplacement du franais par l'anglais comme langue
prpondrante de travail dans les runions de la Communaut
Europenne que la France s'tait longtemps oppose l'entre
de la Grande Bretagne cette communaut.
2.3. On peut parfois se demander si nous maintenons l'usage des
langues europennes dans nos- administrations pour satisfaire
34
les quelques trangers qui travaillent en Afriqqe. Or on
jamais vu des trangers fuir leur pays adoptif cause d'un
changement de politique linguistique. Les Europens sont venus
s'installer en Afrique la poursuite d'intrts autrement plus
importants que la seule diffusion de leurs langues. Ds ne sont
pas tous partis quand l'Afrique leur a arrach le pouvoir politi-
que; mme en leur arrachant notre indpendance linguistique,
ils auront encore de solides raisons de rester, notamment leurs
intrts conomiques. Il est vrai cependant que certains d'entre
eux sont pays par leurs d'origine pour la sauvegarde de
leur influence linguistique en Afrique, et pour nous dcourager
dvelopper les langues africaines par les mthodes que nous
croyons les meilleures.
Les Europens sont curieusement unanimes dconseiller
l'usage de toute langue africaine et proposer sa place
n'importe quelle langue europenne, alors qu'en Europe mme,
les Flamands, les Franais et les Anglais ne sont pas d'accord
pour dterminer la langue officielle des runions au sein du
March Commun.
Ils pourraient nous dconseiller le russe par peur du commu-
nisme. Il serait, je crois, inutile ici d'incriminer l'imprialisme
culturel et linguistique de l'Europe, car il semble que nous
recherchons et supplions ce genre d'imprialisme de ne pas se
retirer; quand il se l'tire, nous le suivons jusqu' chez lui
en Europe: les d'entre nous envoient leurs enfants
tudier. la source europenne.
/ .
Etant trs sduits par les ralisations matrielles et le dve-
loppement conomique de l'Europe nous sommes tents
croire que l'usage de nos langues mus-dveloppes et non inter-
nationales nous ferait retarder avant de jouir des bienfaits de
la civilisation europpenne; et pourtant personne ne peut citer
des exemples o le retard conomique ou scientifique d'un
pays est caus par l'usage dans ce pays d'une langue sous-dve-
loppe et qui n'est pas internationale. Nous devons viter- de
copier btement les autres et nous devons tre patients dans
nos propres initiatives, car comme le dit .Prsence Africaine
(No. 109, p. 4-6):
35
"Le dveloppement de celles-ci ( socits europennes),
s'il est purement et simplement technique, ne nous suffirait
pas et risquerait de nous 'tre nuisible. Leur modernit n'est
pas la ntre ... Notre modernit sera l'oeuvre des talents
et des comptences que nous avons dveloppes dans notre
pass et travers nos luttes et preuves historiques. . . .
Il ne peut s'agir alors que d'une entreprise de longue haleine,
c'est--c;lire, de plusieurs gnrations . . . Les moines des
premiers sicles de l'histoire europenne, et les pionniers de
la pense, .de l'art, de la science, en Europe, ont bti les
fondations de l'actuelle civilisation occidentale".
3. LE HANDICAP DE LA MULTIPLICITE DES LANGUES
Notre e m i ~ r e rponse concerne le handicap de la multipli-
cit des langues dans presque chaque pays de notre continent.
La multiplicit des langues dans un pays africain est mal inter-
prte et conue comme un mal dont le remde rsiderait dans
leur rejet en bloc en faveur des langues europennes. On oublie,
peut-tre, que le multilinguisme n'est pas limit aux pays
africains. Il touche aussi certains pays trs dvelopps d'Europe
qui devraient certainement donner des exemples de solution.
La Suisse, toute petite qu'elle est, a quatre langues officielles,
la Belgique en a au moins deux, le Canada,en a deux, la Tch-
coslovaquie est officiellement mUltilingue, l'Union Sovitique a
une centaine de langues de travail l'intrieur de ses frontires;
PEspagne est en voie de reconnaftre une nouvelle langue of-
ficielle; la Yougoslavie est multilingue. C'est dns le souci
de rendre les lois et les droits du pays accessibles pour tout le
monde que les Etats composition culturelle et linguistique
multiple ont fait de leur rilultilinguisme. originel une politique
officielle. Personne n'a pu jusqu'ici tablir une relation directe
entre la politique linguistique de ces pays et un retard qu'un
de ces pays aurait enregistr dans le domaine intellectuel,
culturel et mme conomique.
D'aprs Peter Homby (Bilingualism; An Introduction and
Overview) "Pour un grand pourcentage des peuples du monde,
parler plus d'une langue est un genre de vie naturel, avec une
36
varit de facteurs qui dterminent la langue qui sera parle
une occasion La plupart des nations d'Europe sont
bilingues ou mme multilingues, ayant deux ou plus de groupes
ethniques qui parlent diffrentes langues ". C'est paradoxal que
les pays africains qui sont confronts au problme de la diver-
sit linguistique adoptent un systme d'enseignement unilingue,
par surcroit centr sur des langues non africaines, alors que le
systme d'ducation bilingue est pratiqu dans des pays 'aussi
diffrents que les Indes, l'URSS et les USA4.Aux Indes qui
possdent plus de 150 langues diffrentes, l'enseignement
officiel se fait en 14 langues, et les lves peuvent faire le choix
entre trois langues d'instruction dans une mme cole primaire.
Ce n'est pas tre progressiste que de vouloir imposer son
pays une langue trangre comme langue officielle unique. Une
information publie dans le numro 2 du mois d'octobre
1978 de la revue The Linguistic Reporter rvle que ne fait
qu'augmenter le nombre' de pays qui reconnaissent deux ou
plusieurs langues officielles. Ainsi la diversit culturelle et
linguistique n'est pas en soi fondamentalement un mal. Elle
peut tre une source permanente d'inventivit, d'innovation,
de crativit, intellectuelle, artistique pour le dveloppement
national.
Parmi les Etats monolingues, il faut galement voir comment
certains parmi eux ont ralis leur unit linguistique partir
d'une situation originellement multilingue. A une certaine
poque trois langues taient parles en France; le latin, le breton
et le francien; l'unification linguistique s'est' ralise autour
du francien, qui tait dj plus rpandu que le breton et qui
fut prfr au latin, langue trangre trs dveloppe et interna-
tionale, . mais qui n'avait pas une assise populaire. A l'tablisse-
II)ent de l'Etat d'Isral, les premiers immigrants taient, d'aprs
leurs pays de constitus en plusierurs groupes
linguistiques qui en majorit parlaient des langues dveloppes
d'Europe, notamment, l'allemand, le russe, l'anglais, le franais;
cependant au lieu de choisir une de ces langues dveloppes et
internationales comme langue nationale et officielle du nouvel
Etat, les responsables du premiergouvernemnt Isralien ont
fond leur unit sur une langue primitive, celle de leurs anctres,
1 '
4. Voir: The Bilingual Education Act, USA Public Law 95-56
37-.
dont le dveloppement devait tre ralis' de pair avec la rali-
sation des autres objectifs nationaux. A son accession J'in-
dpendance en 1947, l'Indonsie avait hrit d'une langue
europenne trs dveloppe, le nerlandais, qu'elle aurait pu
maintenir comme langue officielle, dans la situation de diver-
sit linguistique trs complique o elle se trouvait. Elle a au
contraire choisi comme langue officielle, le malai, une des
langues locales non dveloppe, mais qui tait dj plus r-
pandue que les autres.
Si on tient compte des faits prcdents, on ne comprend pas
comment les dirigeants africains utilisent la diversit linguistique
de leurs pays respectifs pour justifier 'leur manque d'initiative
rvolutionnaire contre le maintien de leur dpendance linguis-,
tique sur l'Europe occidentale. Tous les pays Uricains n'ont
pas une situation linguistique tout fait identique; la diversit
des langues diffre d'un pays l'autre en ceci que les langues
d'un pays peuvent ou non appartenir une mme famille;
les dimensions dmographiques varient d'une langue une
autre de mme que d'un pays un autre; il y a des pays qui
ont des langues plus dynamiques que d'autres, c--d qui se
rpandent plus vite que d'autres; il y a mme des pays qui
ont le privilge de ne pas avoir une diversit linguistique.
Les solutions 'au problme du multilinguisme africain doivent
se trouver deux niveaux: un niveau national et un niveau
international africain ou inter-africain. Chaque pays est libre
d'adopter' pour l'usage national interne le monolinguisme ou
le multilinguisme, l'un et l'autre bass sur l'usage d'une ou
plusieurs langues africaines exclusivement. Tous les pays
africains' doivent collaborer en vue d'lever certaines langues
africajnes au niveau de langues inter-africaines et internationales
qui serviront de moyen de communication entre eux.
3.1. Niveau National
n y a dans chaque pays africain diversit linguistique, un
nombre trs r ~ u i t de langues principales et qui sont souvent
connues par les locuteurs des autres langues faible densit
dmographique.
38
Ces langues principales peuvent tre langues officielles du
gouvernement, alors qu'un droit d'usage plus restreint locale-
ment est accord aux langues minoritaires, qui seraient par
exemple employes dans l'enseignement primaire, pour permet-
tre aux enfants de faire leur premier apprentissage de l'criture
et de la lecture dans leur langue natale. Au niveau national,
si les langues principales sont employes dans leurs rgions
respectives, elles seront apprises aux choix dans les rgions les
unes des autres. Les Langues locales minoritaires contribueront
l'enrichissement de certaines langues principales par l'apport
de leurs littratures qui seront traduites dans les autres langues,
pour tre 'connues au niveau national plus lev. De mme
on recourra elles pour l'enrichissement du
d'une langue principale. Le succsreniport en Uganda par
la publication par le Bureau Linguistique de l'OUA d'un
manuel Luganda-Kiswahili prouver qu'une population
dont la langue n'est pas choisie comme langue nationale officiel-
le ne va pas ncessairement refuser d'apprendre la langue choisie
qui n'est pas la sienne.
Les 5000 exemplaires du manuel en question ont t achets
par des Baganda dsireux de connaftre le Kiswahili. Mme
si l'on veut tendre vers l'unification linguistique de la nation,
cette procdure peut long terme se montrer trs efficace.
Une langue favorise par d'autres facteurs qu'une dcision
politique peut un jour s'imposer tout le monde. Cette in-
stitutionalisation de plusieurs langues nationales est une
solution meilleure que le maintien d'une seule langue coloniale
donnant puissance trangre des privilges culturellement
dangereux. En tout cas la diversit linguistique dans l'indpen-
commune est de loin prfrable l'unit linguistique sous
la dpendance trangre. En fait la diversit linguistique dans un
Etat unitaire comme on en voit en Afrique porte en elle le
germe de sa destruction.
I4=s Etats africains sont eux mme des facteurs de l'unifica-
tion' linguistique l'intrieur de leurs frontires actuelles.
La naissance ou la constituion spontane d'une Ia:ngue com-
mune est une consquence ncessaire des interactions qui
doivent ncessairement avoir lieu entre d'une part les
tions linguistiquement diVerses appartenant une mme entit
39
politique et d'autre part entre chacune de ces divenes popu-
lations et le gouvernement central qui les unit. Les gouverne-
ments africains actuels n'ont qu' saisir l'occasion et favoriser
une ou quelques unes des langues nationales locales, au lieu
de se refugier dans un statu quo qui perptue une emprise
linguistique trangre.
Si l'objectif de l'OUA est d'unir linguistiquement les peuples
africains au lieu d'unir seulement les lites dirigeantes de ces
peuples, la promotion et la diffusion de certaines langues
africaines parmi ces peuples est de loin prfrable au maintien
des langues trangres comme langues de travail obligatoire en
Afrique, lesquelles langues ne pourraient tre bien pratiques
que par la minorit dirigeant-e. Ou bien l'unit africaine est
destine. aux dirigeants ou bien elle concerne toutes les popu-
lations du continent, aussi bien actuelles que les gnrl:tions
futures.
3.2. Niveau inter-africain
Certaines langues considres comme principales au niveau
national ont dj par leur propre dynamisme dbord les fron-
tires d'un territoire national. Un moyen de faire rpandre
davantage de telles langues, c'est de les faire apprendre dans
les Etats o elles ne sont pas langues nationales.
Ceci en vue de les faire connatre et pratiquer en commun
par un nombre. toujours croissant d'africains de nationalits
diffrentes. C'est ici que la collaboration entre tous les Etats
africains est la plus requise; sans cette collaboration, l'unit
linguistique africaine qui a t envisage depuis 1966, quand
la Confrence au sommet des chefs d'Etat et de Gouvernement
a cr le Bureau Linguistique de l'OUA, ne sera jamais rali-
se. L'objectiffondamental assign ce Bureau est prcisment
de doter les africains de moyens de communication internation-
ale proprement africains l'exclusion des langues trangres
dont l'emploi actuel est. provisoirement tolr. Que la connais-
sance d'une langue africID.e .permettant de communiquer a.vec
d'autres pays africains voisins ou lointains soit souhaite par les
diverses nations africines, cela est attest. par la trs grande
majorit d'individus parmi ces nations qui effectivement parlent
40
au moins une langue africaine de plus que leur langue nationale,
et par le dsir actuel de connatre celle qu'on ne connat pas
encore, comme semble l'indiquer le succs sensationnel qu'a
connu en Afrique orientale la vente d'un manuel Kiswahili-
Lingala, publi; en 1975 par le Bureau Linguistique Interafricaln
de l'OUA de Kampala.
4. Nous concluons notre rfutation en affirmant que ce n'est
pas le sous-dveloppement technique ni la multiplicit "des
langues dans certains de nos pays ni le fait qu'elles ne sont pas
encore toutes internationales qui nous empche de rendre nos
langues officielles. L'acte de Tendre officielle une langue est
une dcision politique par laquelle on affirme son pouvoir dans
le domaine culturel. Ce n'est pas une consquence automatique
et obligatoire d la ralisation ventuelle des trois
mentiones plus haut. Les colonisateurs pas impos
leurs langues des pays qui taient linguistiquement unifis,
y compris certains pays afriains monolingues?Ds ont mme
fait remplacer des langues dveloppes et internationales par
leurs propres langues. Ainsi les Franais ont remplac l 'alle-
mpld au Cameroun les Anglais l'ont remplac
au Cameroun. et en Tanzanie, les Belges l'ont remplac au
Rwanda et au Burundi; les Amricains ont remplac l'espagnol
aux Philippines et Porto Rico, les Anglais ont remplac le
franais l'De Maurice et dans une partie du Canada. La langue
fait partie du transfert du pouvoir. n semble que nous n'avons
pas la volont d'assumer le pouvoir dans des domaines autres
que politique. Cependant l'indpendance politique seule n'est
pas trs durable: est la mercie de ceux qui nous dominent
conomiquement et
CONCLUSION
La dpendence linguistique de l'Afrique sur l'Europe occiden-
tale est une ralit hrite de la colonisation. Cependant l'impo-
sition d'une langue qui rsulte d'une priode de domination
coloniale plus ou moins longue n'est pas un hritage dfinitive-
ment acquis ou irrversible. La colonisation peut laisser des
vestiges linguistiques plus ou moins persistants, mais un peuple
qui a t sous .domination traDgre finit toujours par devenir
41
linguistiquement indpendant. Cette leon de l'histoire s'ap-
plique des peuples divers, allant de la domination du grec
sur le monde ancien, du latin sur l'Europe mdivale, du fran-
ais sur l'Angleterre, la domination de diffrentes langues
europennes modernes sur plusieurs pays du Tiers-Monde. La
conqute plus ou moins rapide de l'indpendance linguistique
dpend de la prise de consience prcoce ou tardive des dangers
du maintien d'une langue coloniale par le peuple qui a t
sous domination trangre. Les dangers multiples du maintien
d'une langue trangre comme langue dominante d'une nation
qui a - sa propre langue concoutrent tous -maintenir cette
nation dans un tat perptuel de sous-dveloppement aussi
bien culturel, intellectuel qu'conomique.
Nous avons fait ressortir la contradiction qui existe entre
le dveloppement conomique rapide prsent comme la raison
primordiale du maintien des langues europennes en Afrique
et les consquences dsavantageuses dcoulant de la dpendance
linguistique.
Le maintien des langues coloniales comme langues principales
de travail dans tous les rouages de l'administration de nos pays
ne procde pas d'une raison valable autre que le dsir incons-
cient ou subconscient des lites minoritaires de maintenir et
de protger leurs privilges court terme, hrits de la coloni,.
et procde probablement aussi du caractre humain qui
veut qu'on ne puisse pas dlibrment se dtacher des habitudes
mentales dont font partie nos habitudes linguistiques. Cela
procde peut tre aussi de l'gosme: tous les hommes au
pouvoir sont gostes. Ds ont tendance
gouverns faire les efforts ncessaires pour comprendre.
1
C'est pourquoi les dcisions ncessaires qu'il faut prendre
pour rtablir la situation en faveur des peuples africains exigent
de nos dirigeants actuels non seulement beaucoup de sacrifice,
mais aussi une trs grande indpendance d'esprit et beaucoup
d'abngation. Les dcisions prendre pour donner du prestige
aux langues africaines sont des dcisions politiques et les gou-
vernements ne peuvent pas s'y drober. Les langues europen-
nes ont du prestige chez nous parce que, par la volont de nos
elles sont les langues de l'enseignement, les
42
langues qu'il faut connatre pour trouver un emploi dans le
priv et dans l'administration publique, les langues qu'il faut
connatre pour couter les nouvelles la radio et la tlvision
et pour lire les journaux nationaux.
Ce sont l des avantages qu'on dcision politique,
accorder aux langues africaines pour rendre celles-Ci aussi
intressantes que les langues europennes en Afrique. Ainsi
le Kiswahili a du prestige en Tanzanie et ailleurs en Afrique
grce la politique pratique par le gouvernement de la
Tanzanie en faveur de cette langue africaine. Les changements
radicaux prconiss doivent avant tout s'appliquer l'enseigne-
ment qui est le. domaine cl de toute indpendance. C'est ab-
solument anormal et contre tout intrt national que l'enseig-
nement et l'ducation scolaire en Afrique se fassent en langues
europennes exclusivement. Les populations africaines ont le
droit d'avoir leurs coles conduites en leurs langues.
D'autre part, le systme scolaire qui forme en langues tra-
ngres des finalistes orients l'universit qui ne peut en
recevoir qu'un petit nombre est un chec qu'il faut immdiate-
ment corriger. La -majorit des finalistes, ne trouvant pas des
places l'universit- et des emplois en ville, seraient plus utiles
en leurs milieux d'origine s'ils taient encourags d'en connatre
les langues. .
Si les dirigeants tiennent au maintien des langues trangres
. qui sau.vegarderont pour un temps leurs propres intrts ma-
triels, ils doivent au moins instarer pour la majorit de leurs
concitoyens un systme d'ducation bilingue ou multiliilgue
qui donne la possibilit, soit d'tre duqu officiellement dans
plus d'une langue, soit d'apprendre plus d'une langue, et dont
une est dans tous les cas une langue africaine.
Le sous-dveloppement, le manque de manuels et la pnurie
d'enseignants d'une langue sont des faux fuyants quand on les
prsente comme des raisons qui empchent l'emploi de cette
langue l'enseignement. Ce n'est pas de la ralisation de
ces conditions qu'une langue reoit automatiquement son
. statut officiel. Au contraire, c'est la politique clairement dfinie
en faveur d'une langue qui dtermine le plan de son dveloppe-
43
ment, de production du matriel didactique et de la formation
des matres.
Nous avons prouv que l'usage des langues africaines dans
l'enseignement augmentera le nombre et la qualit de Il'OS
effectifs scolaires et va acclrer le dveloppement conomique
qui a besoin de la participation effective de la majorit du
peuple. La revalorisation des langues africaines est pour sa
part une condition trs importante la solution de nos probl-
mes de dveloppment global et d'indpendance nationale.
Ayant suffisamment prouv que l'usage de nos langues est
non seulement un facteur, mais aussi une'condition du dvelop-
pement rapide et . harmonieurx de' nos pays dans tous les
domaines, il faut souligner qu'il est trs urgent de faire de 'ces
langues nos langues officielles de travail, tout au moins au
niveau national, car il est urgent que le travail et la production
augmentent avec le concours de tous ceux qui sont prsents
pour nourrire les gnrations de demain 'dont le nombre de
bouches augmentent plus vite que . notre production de pro-
duits alimentaires et autres. n est grand temps, mais pas encore
trop tard que nous reconnaissions que notre attachement
aux langues d'autrui ne nous fait pas plus vite progresser ~ t
quement, culturellement et conomiquement; mais au contraire,
nous constatons que notre politique de dveloppement base
sur les moyens linguistiques trangers n'a pas russi nous faire
produire des biens et des services qui correspondent, mme de
loin, l'augmentation de la population.
44
NOTICE BIBLIOGRAPHIQUE
Center for applied Linguisties: The Linguistic Reporter, Oct. 1978 Center
for Applied Linguistics Virginia, USA,
Cervenka, Zdenek: The Unfinished Quest for Unity: Africa and the DA U:
Julian Friedmann Publishers Ltd. UK - 1977.
Diop, Alioune: Du Confort Culturel, Prlsence Africaine No. 107; 1978
pp. 3-7.
Enahoro, Peter: The Devil we Don't Know: New African Magazine, Nov.
1978.
Ethiopian Herald: Ethiopian Herald 19 Oct. 1978.
Heine-Bernd: Status and Use of African Lingua Francas. Wltforun Verlag.
Munchen Germany 1970
Hopkins, T.: 'The Development and Implementation of the National
Language Poticy in Kenya', in Language and Linguistic Problems in.
Africa, Ed. by P. Kotey and Der-Houssikian
Homby, Peter, Editor: Bilingualism, Academie Press, 1977
Kavugha, Douglas F .S. 'Language in Education in Tanzania; Past, Present
and Future,' forthcoming in African Lngur;ge, lAI London.
Kotey P. and Der-Houssikian H,: (Editors)Language and Linguistic Pro-
blems in Africa, Hornbeam Press, Inc. U.SA, 1977
Khalid, Abdallah: The Liberation of Swtlhili from European Appropria-
tion; E.A. Literature Bureau, Nairobi, Kenya 1977.
Laitin, D.: 'Politics, Language and Thought' The Somali Experiences;
University of Chicago Press, 1977.
Malanda, Dem: La Mentaliti Africaine et l'Avenir de la Science; Editions
du B.A.S.E. Kisangani, Zare.
Michalon, Th.: 'Quel Etat pour l'Afrique,' Prsence Africaine, No. 107,
1978 pp. 13-54.
National clearinghouse for Bilingual Education: The Bilingual Education
Act USA Public Law 95-561
Ohannessian, and Kashoki,: (Editors) Language in Zambia, International
African Institute, London 1978.
Sembene Ousmane: 'La Culture est le Levain de la Politique, mais l 'in-
tegrisme, c'est le Fascisme in Jeune Afrique No. 976 du 19 Sep. 1979
pp. 71-75
Skutnabb-Kangas: Language in the Process of Cultural Assimilation and
Structural Incorporation of Linguistic Minorities Ed. National Clearing-
house for Bilingual Education, 1979 Rosslyn, Virginia, USA.
Societe Africaine de culture: 'Civilisation' in: Presence Africaine, No.
109, 1979; p. 4-6
Spolsky, B. and Cooper, R. (Editors) Frontiers of Bilingual Education,
Newbury House Publishers, Massachusetts 1977.
UNESCO: Index Tanslationum, 1969-1974, Unesco, Paris
Verhaegen, B. L'Enseignement Universitaire au Zaire, de Lovanium
l'Unaza 1958-1978, Editions L'Harmattan 1978, Paris
Ziegler,J. Main Basse sur L'Afrique, Editions du Seuil, Paris, 1978.
45
LES CONSEQUENCES DES
POLITIQUES LINGUISTIQUES
DES ETATS AFRICAINS SUR
L'ENSEIGNEMENT
par Eyamba G. Bokamba
et
Josiah S. Tlou
LES CONSEQUENCES DES POLITIQUES LINGUISTIQUES
DES ETATS AFRICAINS SUR L'ENSEIGNEMENT*
Par Eyamba G. Bokamba
et Josiah S. Tlou
TRADUCTION RESUMEE
de l'original en anglais
1. INTRODUCTION
La politique linguistique actuelle des Etats Africains sub-
sahariens constitue un obstacle majeur au dveloppement d'une
ducation gnralise en Afrique. Aussi longtemps que l'enseig-
nement classique l'europenne reste le moyen principal de
promotion personnelle et de dveloppement national, le main-
tien des langues europennes coloniales comme o y ~ n s d'in-
struction rduira le nombre des effectifs scolaires post-primaires
une petite minorit d'africains et, par consquent, conduira
une perte-considrable des ressources humaines.
2. LES POLITIQUES LINGUISTIQUES DES ETATS
AFRICAINS
Les politiques linguistiques de la plupart des Etats Africains
vis--vis de l'ducation sont aujourd'hui la continuation des
politiques coloniales.
Ceci est une version revise de l'expos prsent la 7me Confrence sur la
Linguistique Africaine tenu l'Universite! de la Floride, Gainesville du 28 au
25 avril 1976. La prsentation de l'expos cette confrence avait t rendue
possible par une petite bourse de voyage accorde au Dr. Bokamba par le Centre
des Etudes Africaines de l'Universit de 11l1inois; et une partie de la recherche
dont le rEsultat est ici annonc a t financ& par une bourse de recherche de ce
centre accorde au Professeur Bokamba pendant le semestre du printemps
1975-76. L'autre partie de l'article est base sur le travail sur le terrain effectue
par le Dr. TIou pour sa thse de doctorat au Botswana et dans d'autres parties de
l'Afrique australe. Nous sommes trs reconnoissants au Centre des Etudes Africa-
ines pour son aide. - -
49
2.1. Les Politiques coloniales et leurs Heritages
Les.politiques linguistiques des pays colonisateurs ont reflt
leurs philosophies politiques coloniales parce que les politiques
linguistiques sont partout dans le monde des dcisions politi-
ques. La philosophie assimilationniste qui devait amener les
Africains coloniss une "civilisation plus leve" a conduit
les <:olonisateurs .dcourager l'emplQ.i des langues africaines
dans l'enseignement;- C'est trs surprenant de constater que les
pays africains ont choisi l'europanisation contre l'indignisa-
tion des vhicules d'enseignement, au moment mme de la
naissance du nationalisme africain des annes 1960.
2.2. Raisons du Maintien des Langues Coloniales
1
2.2. J. !lcacit et Rapidit
On prtend qu'il faut se servir des langues europennes parce
que les langues africaines ne sont pas suffisamment dveloppes
et modernises et qu'il n'y a pas l'heure actuelle suffisamment
du personnel enseignant et de livres scolaires en langues afri-
caines.
2.2.2. L'Unit Nationale
La deuxime raison avance est qu'on a recours' l'europa-
nisation des vhicules de l'enseignement pour viter le danger
de sparatisme qui pourrait rsulter du choix d'une' langue
nationale l'exlusion d'autres langues africaines principales
et pour dcourager le tribalisme. Mais ces dangers ne sont pas
rels dans les -pays monolingues comme le Botswana (le
Burundi), le Lesotho, (le Rwanda, la Somalie) et le Swaziland.
1
2.2.3. Le Pro.((rs National
Une troisime raison, c'est le progrs national. L'usage des
langues africaines comme vhicules de Penseignement pourrait
empcher le progrs des peuples africains et retarder leur
intgration au monde moderne. Mais ne faudrait-il pas faire
coexister les langues europennes et les langues africain--es en
distribuant des domaines et des rles distincts aux unes et
aux autres, de sorte que les langues europennes ne paraissent
1. Ce qui est entre parenthses a t ajout par l'diteur
50
. ...,..
pas rejetes compltement, ce qui serait la fois nuisible ct
irraliste.
3. LES BUTS DE L'ENSEIGNEMENT AFRICAIN
3.1. Les Recommandations d'Addis Abba
La confrence d'Addis Abba de 1961 avait recommand
aux autorits scolaires de rformer le contenu de l'enseigne-
ment dans les domaines des programmes, des manuels et des
mthodes de faon tenir compte du milieu africain, de l'hri-
tage culturel, y compris le dveloppement linguistique et
l'exigence du progrs technique et du dveloppement cono-
mique, et surtout industriel.
3.2. Le Facteur Lingistique dans l'Enseignement
On ne peut pas raliser le dveloppement souhait sans
incorporer les langues africaines, vhicules des cultures et civi-
lisations africaines, dans le systme scolaire. La politique
d'europanisation exclusive des vhicles de l'enseignement
n'est pas conforme aux objectifs de l'ducation et du dvelop-
pement dfinis Addis Abba.
3.2.1. Les Atfantages des Langues Coloniales
En admettant qu' cause de la multiplicit linguistique, il
est vraiment difficile de faire d'une langue donne la seule
langue nationale, on est d'accord pour dire qu'une m3:,nire
d'viter cette difficult est adopter provisoirement, pour le
moment, comme langues officielles des langues europennes,
celles-ci ayant l'avantage d'tre politiquement neutres, c'est
dire, des langues qu'on nlattache pas un groupe ethnique
quelconque. Un autre avantage provisoire est que les langues
europennes ont dj une abondante. littrature crite.
3.2.2. Les Inconvenients des Langues Coloniales
Si les langues coloniales sont utiles, c'est seulement court
terme. A long terme, il est trs nuisible de les adopter comme
moyens dfinitifs de transmission des connaissances dans
l'enseignement. Pour commencer, leur matrise est rendue
.trs difficile parce . que leur usage manque de motivation en
51
dehors des salles de classe. L'lite qui en est l'usager privilgi
et exclusif ne reprsente souvent que moins de dix pourcent
de la population.
En second lieu, les conditions de ces langues
trangres sont trs pauvres, et les tudiants finissent par tre
incapables de s'exprimer dans leur propre langue
natale et dans la langue Or l'admission l'cole
secondair et l'universit est conditionne la russite dans la
langue d'instruction.
Ainsi l'europanisation du vhicule de l'enseignement rduit
inutilement les effectifs scolaires du secondaire et du niveau
suprieur, et perptue la dpendance des Etats africains sur
les experts trangers.
Troisimement, l'usage continu des langues trangres, com-
moyens d'instruction en Afriqq.e, dcouragera ie dveloppe-
ment des langues et des cultures africaines, et va de plus en
plus culturellement aliner les gens instruits de leurs populations
qu'ils sont censs servir et aider.
Enfm, pour ceux qui n'achvent pas leurs tudes, et qui
sont la majorit, ou bien ils redeviennent analphabtes, s'ils
rentrent et sjournent longtemps dans leur milieu d'origine, o
les langues trangres ne sont pas parles, ou bien, devenant
chmeurs en ville, ils sont dsillusionns et deviennent une
menace poUr la socit.
4. POUTIQUE LINGUISTIQUE DE RECHANGE POUR.
L'AFRIQUE
4.1 Le Choix des Langues Nationales
Chaque gouvernement devrait dsigner une commission de
planification linguistique qui aurait pour tche de l'aider l1
choisir une langue nationale parmi toutes les langues parles
dans le pays. Les autres langues non retenues comme langues
nationales devraient tre enseignes. comme matires obliga-
52
toires du programme et tre employes pour remplir certaines
, fonctions bien dfinies. On propose ce qui suit:
(1) Tous les cours doivent tre enseigns dans la langue
nationale travers tout le systme scolaire pruniversi-
taire;
(2) La langue nationale doit tre enseigne obligatoirement
travers tout le systme scolaire y compris l'universit;
(3) L'introduction d'une langue internationale comme
matire obligatoire d'enseignement n'aura lieu qu' partir
de la 4e anne;
(4) On enseignera provisoirement les sciences et les Jllath-
matiques dans la langue internationale au niveau second-
aire, en attendant que des manuels scolaires appropris
soient, disponibles dans la langue nationale;
(5) Chaque ive du secondaire o ~ t obligatoirement appren-
dre une deuxime langue autre que sa propre langue
natale;
(6)' Inscription ou expansion d'une option de Langues Africa-
ines au programme des instituts pdagogiques destins
la formation des martres;
(7) Cration ou expansion de dpartements de langue et
Littrature Africaine l'universit pour la formation des
professeurs et des linguistes;
(8) Enseignement des cours universitaires la fois dans la
langue nationale choisie ,et dans la langue internationale
approprie, suivant la disponibilit des manuels classi-
ques
A cause du manque de matriel didactique dans la plupart des
langues vhiculaires africaines, une priode de 4 5 ans devrait
s'couler entre l'adoption de cette politique et sa mise en
application, pour permettre ,au gouvernement de tout prparer.
La politique linguistique propose ici serait graduellement in-
troduite d'anne en anne, ds que les manuels et le personnel
enseignant deviendront disponibles. De plus, certaines langues
europennes devront continuer servir comme langues des
affaires trangres; tandis que les autres langues africaines
principales' interethniques qui n'ont pas t choisies comme
langues nationales devront aussi continuer fonctionner comme
moyens de communication gouvernementale au niveau local
ou rgional dans chaque pays. Les petites langues continueront
jouer des rles minimes; la recommandation de l'Unesco de
1953 qui veut que chaque enfant soit instruit dans sa langue
natale est inacceptable ,et, irralisable, mme si c'est valable
pdagogiquement.
4.2 Les Avantages du Plan Propos
Le plan actuel ,contribuera l'unit nationale et rduira la
dpendance qu'ont les Etats Africains sur des expatris dans
des domaines qui ne sont pas hautement tchniques.
CONCLUSION
Etant donn le rle que la langue joue dans l'enseignement,
on a soutenu et dm'ontr qu'il est ncessaire que les Etats
Africains africanisent les vhicules de l'enseignement tout en
adoptant en mme temps une' politique linguistique d'ensemble
qui attribue chaque langue inter-ethnique. des fonctions ap-
propries. On ne pense pas que les difficults qu'il y a remp-
lacer les langues europennes, qui sont actuellement les langues
officielles de l'enseignement, sont plus insurmontables que
celles de la lutte de l'Afrique pour l'indpendance politique
des annes 1960. C'est encourageant de constater qe d'autres
pays (comme la Chine et l'URSS) qui ont entrepris des projets
linguistiques similaires y ont russi. Une solution au problme
des langues d'enseignement rendra l'enseignement africain
plus productif qu'il n'est maintenant.
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Gbedemah, FoK. 1971. "Alternative LanguagePoIicies for Ed\\C8tion in Ghana.' Un
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Georis, P. and B. 1965. Evolution de l'Enseignement en Republique Demo-
Cf'tJtique du Congo depuis l'Independ4nce. Bruxelles: Edition CEMUBAC.
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Haugen, E. 1966. Language Conflict and Language Planning: The Case of Modem
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Haugen, E. 1968. "Language planning in ModerD: Norway," in J.A. Fishman, ed.,
Readings in the Sociology of Language, pp. 67S-687. The Hague: Mouton.
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Ladefoged, P., R. Glick and C. Criper. 1972. Language in Ugtmd4. Nairobi, Kenya:
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Lambert, W.E. 1967. UA Sociol psychology of bilingualism:' Journal of Social
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Nkrumah, K. 1965. Neo-Colonllism: The lAst Stage ollmperialism. New York:
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Nyerere. j. 1967. Education'Ior Sell-Relllnce. Dar-es-Salaam: Govemment Printer.
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Rideout, W.M., DoN. Wilson, et al. 1969. Survey 01 Education in the" Democratie
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Spencer, j. 1971a. "Colonial language polides and their legacies," in T. Sebeok, ed.,
Current Trends in Linguistics voL 7: Linguistics in Sub-8aham African. pp.
587-547. The Hague: Mouton.
Spencer, j. 1971b. The English Language ;n West Alrica. London: Longmans.
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Ukeje, B.O. 1966. Education for SOClI Reconstruction. Lagos, Nigerial: Macmillan.
UNESCO, 1958a. The Use of Vemaculars in Education. UNESCO Monographs on
Fundamental Education 8. Paris: UNESCO.
UNESCO, 1958b. African Languages and English in Education: Report 01 the Jos
Meeting. UNESCO Educational Studies and Documents' "
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UNESCO, 1961. Conference of Alrican States on the Development 01 Education
in Alrica, Addis A baba, 15-25 May 1961. Final Report. Paris: UNESCO.
Van Lierde, J., ed. 1968. La Pense Politique de Patrice Lumumba. Paris: ~ n e
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Walusimbi, L. 1972. "The teaching of the vemacular languages in Uganda," in Lade-
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Weinreich, U. 1958. "The russification of Soviet minorty languages." Problems 01
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White1ey, W.H. 1971. "Language policies of independent African statcs," in T.
Sebeok, ed. pp. 548-558.
56
Lewis, LJ. 1962. Phelps-Stokes Reports on Educat"'Jn in Africa. London: Oxford
University Press.
Lumumba, P.E. 1961. Le Congo, TeJTe est-il Menace'! Bruxelles, Belgium:
Office de Publicite. .'. '
McNamara, 1967. "Effects of instruction in a weaker language." Journal of
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Mabika-Kalanda. 1965. La Remise en Question: Base de la Decolonisation Mentale.
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Nkrumah, K. 1965. Neo-Colonitzlism The Last Stage of Imperialism. New 'York:
International PubllShers.
Nyerere. J. 1967. Education for Self-Relitlnce. Dar-es-8alaam: Government Printer.
O'Doherty, E.F., 1969: "Social factors and second language policies," in RB.
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Rideout', W.M., D.N. Wilson, et al. 1969. Survey of Education in the Democratie
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Spencer, J. 1971L"Clonial laJiguag policies and their legacles,"in T. Sebok,
ed., Current Trends in 'Linguisties voL 7: Linguisties in Sub-8ahara African.
pp. 587-547. The Hague: Mouton.
Spencer, J. 1971b. The English Language in West A.frica. London: LoJ;l8lll8llS.
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Ukeje, B.O. 1966. Education far Social Reconstruction. Lagos, Nigeria: MaanUJan.
UNESCO, 195830 The Use of Vemaculars in Education. UNEscO Monographs
Fundamental Education 8. Paris: UNESCO. .
UNESCO, 1958b. A/rictl.fi Languages and English in Education: Report of the Jos
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Africaine. , '
Waluiimbi, L 1972. "The taChing of the vernacular languages in Uganda," in
Ladefoged, et aL, pp. 148-151.
Weinreich, U. 1958. "The nissification of Soviet minority larlguages." Problmu of
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White1ey, WB. 1971. "Language poncles of independent African states," in T.
Sebeok, ed. pp.
66
REFERENCES
Ansre, G. 1969. '-nte need for a specifie and comprehensive policy on the teaching
of Ghanaian languages," in J.R. Bimie and G. Ansre, eds., Proceedings of the
Conference on the Study of Ghanaian Languages, pp. 5-11. Legon: Ghana
Publishing Corporation.
Ansre, G. 1970. Language Policy for the Promotion of National Uni,., and under-
standing in West Africa. Legon: Institute of African Studies, University of
Ghana.
Apronti, E.O. 1974. "Sociolinguistics and the question of national language: The
Case of Ghana," in W.R. Leben, ed., Papen from the Fifth Annual Conference
on African Linguistics. Supplement 5, Sudies in African Linguistics, pp. 1-20.
Balogh, T. 1962. ''Misconceived cducational programmes in Africa." Universities
(}parlerly XVI, 8.
Balogh, T. 1966. '-nte problem of education in Africa," in J.W. Iftmson and C.s.
eds., Education and the Development of Nations. New York:. Holt,
Rinehart and Wmston.
Birnie, J.R. and G. Ansre. 1968. ProceediDgs of the CoQference on th Study of
Ghanaian Languages. Legon: Ghana Publishing Corporation.
Bokamba, E.G. 1976. "Authenticity and the choice of a national language: the
Case of Zare." Paper Presented at the 6th Conference on African Linguistics.
The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, AprilU-18. To appear in Presence
Africaine.
Cockaoft, J.o., A.G. Frank, and D.L. Johnson. 1972. Dependence and Under-
development: Latin America's Political Economy. Garden City: Anchor Books.
Dowuona, M. "1969. "Opening address," in J.R.'Bimie and G. Ansre, pp. 1-4.
Ferguson, C.A. 1968. "Language development," in J.A.lishman, C.A. Ferguson,
and J. Das Gupta, eds., Language Problems of Developing Nations, pp. New
York: John Wlley and Sonia
Fishman, J.A. 1972. Language and Nationalism: Two Integrative Essays. Rowley:
Newbury House Publishers.
Gbedemah, FoK. 1971. Alternative Language Poliies for Education in Ghana.
Unpublisbed UCLA Doctoral Dissertation.
George, B. 1966. Educational Developmenls in the Congo (LeopoldviUe) Washing-
ton, D.C.: U.s. Govemment Printing Office.
Georis, P. and B. Agbiano. 1965. Evolution de l'Enseignement en Republique
Democratique du Congo depuis l'Independance. Bruxelles: Edition CEMUBAC.
Gorman, ToP. 1974. '-nte development of language p.olicy in Kcnya with particular
refcrence to the cdueational system," in W.H. Whitcley, cd., Language in Kenya,
897-458. Nairobi (Kenya): Oxford University Fress.
Haugen, E. 1966. Language Conflict and Language PlIlnning: The Case of Modem
Norwgian. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
Haugen, E. 1968. "Language planning in Modem Norway," in J.A. Fishman, cd.,
Readmgs in thee Sociology of Language, pp. 678-687. The Hague: Mouton.
Johnson, D.L. 1972. ''On oppressed classes," in Crockcroft, Frank, and Johnson,
eds., pp. 269-801.
Ladefoged, P., R. Glick and C. Criper. Language in Ugand4. Nairobi, Kenya:
Oxford Univcrsity Press.
Lambert, W.E. 1967. "A Sociol psychology of bilingualism." Journal of Social
Issues, VoL XXIU, 2: 91-108. .
Lehman, WOP. ed. 1975. Language and Linguistics in the People's Republic of
China. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press.
Lewis, E.G. 1972. Multilingualism in the So"iet Union: Aspects of Language Polky
and ils Implementation. Tha Hague: Mouton.
65
plan will enhance the study of African languages in Africa
itself, and permit the developmentof practical literacy
programs.
. CONCLUSION,
This study was concemed with problem of' the media
of instruction in sub-Saharan Africa. Given the central role
that plays in education, we have argued and shown
that it is necessaryfor African states to indigenize their media
of instruction while at adopting a comprehensive
language policy which assigns functions to each
lingua franca.
While we recognize the difficulties inherent in the task of
language planning, and especially in replacing the present
official European languages in education, we do not believe
these difficulties to be any more insurmountable than the
African struggle for political freedom in the 1960's. We
strongly feel that the national language issue deserves the same
degree of commitment if Africa is to liberate itself from,
cultural imperialism and shape its own destiny. What encour-
aging in this endeavor is that other nations (e.g. China, and
have successfully undertaken similar language programs.
we have not dealt with the otheraspects of education,
for inst.ance content of the curriculum, teachers' training,
teachers' salaries,! and preparation of teaching materials, we
are aware' of the fact that the proposals 'we have made here,
if adopted, represent only half of the to the problem
of relating African education to African We do feel;
however, that the question of media of instruction 'in particular,
and that of national languages in general, are more critical
than related problems in African education in view of Africa's
high illiteracy rates. A solution to the languages of instruction
issue will render African education more productive than-itJJ--
now.
!. Low teachers' salaries is one of the faeton which bas led to the problem of
staffing. in Afric:an education. MoSt teachen get aUracted to better paying jobs in
the private sector or in the govemment, and abandon their. profession. This bas
become such. a perennial problem throughout much of Africa that African states'
dependency on expatriate teac:hers is inaeasing, rather, than. deaeasing, every year.
For some discussion of this issue, see Georls and Agbiano (l965), George (1966),
Rideout et aL (1969), Bokamba (1976); and TIou, (1976).
64
secondary school level until adequate teaching materials have
been developed in the national language; (5) the mandat ory
teaching of a second indigenous lingua franca to each student
at the secondary school level, provided that this language is
not native to the student; (6) the inclusion or expansion of an
African language option in teachers' training colleges; (7) the
creation or expansion of dpartments of African languages and
linguistics; and (8) the teaching of university subjects ID both
the selected national language and relevant international lan-
nguage, as May be dictated by the availability of teachlng
materials.
In view of the scardty of teaching materlals in Most African
linguae francae, our suggestiQn is that such a language policy
be introduced gradually on a yearly basis as soon as materials
and teaching staff become available. A period of four to five
years should be allowed between the adoption of the policy
and its implementation in order to enable the government to
make the necessary preparations. rurther, as suggested earlier,
languages like English, French, and Portuguese should continue
to be used as the languages of international affairs; and those
African linguae francae that have not been chosen as national
languages should aIso continue to function as media of
communication in the local governinentallevels in each nation.
Minor languages in our opinion will continue to have very
restrlcted functions; we do not subscribe to the UNESCO's
1953 recommendation that each child be taught in his/her
mother tongue. This is an impractical proposal, pedagogically
sound as it May be.
4.2 Advantages of Proposed Plan
If this language plan is adopted after a careful examination
of ail the critical factors, it is very un1ikely that it will generate
any significant language conflicts. The advantages of tbis plan
should be obvious: they are precisely what we stated to be
the disadvantages of the present African language polides
vis-a-vis education. Over and above .. those advantages, the
present plan will contrlbute to national unity and reduce
African states' dependency on expatriates for most of the non-
highly technical fields by increasing in a significant way the
outputs of their own educational institutions. Further, the
63
languages were not only used as media of instruction in elemen-
tary schools before the adoption of the present
policies, but they also continue to be used in. certain ___
and national govemment functions such as radio and televwon
broadcasting, lower tribunal transactions, and so OD.
Our proposai is that each sub-Saharan African state select
a national language from the pool of its linguae francae on the
basis of a statisticl and attitudinal laDguage survey, and use
this language as the medium of instruction. Specifically, we are
suggesting. thateach national govemment set up a language
planning commission of linguists, anthropologists,
sociologists, economists, and political scientists to survey the
relevant languages and make recommendations to the govem-
ment as to the selection of a single national language. In
linguistically homogeneous states, the initial task of language
survey be much simpler than elsewhere; but the general
planning will have to require the same rigor as in: the multi-
lingual societies. If the initial work is canied out carefully
and the govemment cooperates, the kind of language policy
that will emerge from suc::h a commission will be compre-
hensive in that it will be based on the objective realities of
the society concemed.This means, among other things, that
each lingua franca (indigenous foreign) will be assigned a
particular function. For instance, in countries. like Ghana,
Nigeria, Zare and Kenya three to four indigenous
linguae francae and an international language are spoken, if
one of the indigenous linguae francae in each nation is chosen
as the national language, the remaining should be taught as
compulsory subject matters in the school system and used hi
certain other specified functions.
Following. Bokamba (1976), the language poliey wehave in
mind here .would in.clude these major recommendations: the /.
teaching of all subjetts in the national language: throughout the
pre-university system, except as stated in (4) below: (2) the
teaching of the national language as compulsory suJ>ject through-
out . the entire school system (i.e. including the uAiversity
level); (3) the introduction of the relevant international language
(i.e. English or French or Portuguese) asa compulsory subject
only from grade four onwards; (4) the temporary teaching .of
sciences and mathematics in the intem,tional language at the
62
/
further discussion here. The point we wish to make here is
simply that the language dimension should not' be added to
this problem to compound it.
Fourth and finaIly, the bulk of school drop-outs lapse back
into illiteracy after five years or more of being away from
situations and milieux that force them to use their literary
skills in the foreign language used as medium of instruction.
This is a serious problem in most African states, because
much of the given to students during the first eight
years of schooling does not prepare them for any employ-
ment. Further, no . provisions are made to rescue drop-outs
from the unemployment rows in order to integrate them into
the economic sector. As a result, their foreign language literacy
becomes disfunctionaI and eventually extinct. These children
become the most disillusioned people in our societies and tum,
understandably, to crime; they become a threat to their
societies. The waste of both mone tary and human resources
that is associated with the problem of unemployed school drop-
outs should be evident.
4 ALTERNATIVE LANGUAGE POLICIES FOR AFRICA
The arguments of the opponents of the indigenization of
the media of instruction outlined above indicate legitimate
concems, but what these people fail to see is the danger in-
herent in the policies that they are espousing out of fear of
facing squarely the problem of the language factor in education.
Thefact of the matter is that in order for Africa to use edu-
cation as the genuine means through which its people can
shape their own destiny according to their deepest feelings,
Afrlcan leaders must give serious attention to the question of
the role of language in education. Every effort and sacrifice
must be made to find a judicious solution. In the following
pages we make. a proposaI that we feel is very adop.table and
conducive to balanced educational developments.
4.1 Choice of National Languages
As we have stated previously, all African states
are multilingual except for Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland.
ln the course of the histories of these nations, however, three
to four linguae francae have developed in each of them. These
61
the attrition and fallure rates are equally high; as:a in
1969 Lovanium University at, Kinshasa, after. fiftenyears' of
teaching, and the State University of Congo' (founded in 1956)
could only. be credited . of having graduated a meager total of
640 Congolese. These meager outputs, which are paralleled in
Many other African states, are highly incommensurate with
the percentage of national resources allocated to education.
WhiIe: sucb figures cannot be solely attributed to the problem
of the use of foreign languages as media of instruction, it is
undeniable tnat it is one'of the central factors affecting the
educational output because admission into secondary school
in MoSt African states is dependent on the student's per-
formance on two subjects: mathematics and the medium of
instruction, i.e. English or French or Portugtiese. Similarly,
admission . into the university, while focusing on general
depend in important ways on the student's mastery
of the medium of-. instruction. The dilemma that African
'
nations face in pursuing language policies such as the ones
discussedhere vis-a-vis education is that (a) these policies
unnecessarily restrict access of students to secondary and higher
education, and (b) they perpetuate the dependency of Africar1
states on foreign experts for their cadres. The so-calledstruggle
for self-reliance becomes, therefore,. an excercise in futility as
long as the educational, systems are not conceived. to phase
out this dependency.
Third, the continued use of foreign languages as media' of
instruction in Africa will discourage the development of the
African languages and cultures. The consequences of this are
more devastating than African leaders and educators May reali-
zee For one thing, as Ansre (i969 : 9), O'Doherty (1969:253)
Lambert (1967), and others have pointed the extensive
diffusion of a foreign language into. a society has depersonaIi-
zing effects. Ansre (1969), for observes that
Ghanians look upon their own languages with a certain amount
of shame, and regard them. Dot worthy of theiJ;: children to
learn. As a result, thcse people become culturally alienated
from the people whom they should serve. and help. The
problem of cultural alienation inherent in theAfrican
tionaI systems has been notedfor a long. time (cf. J. Lewis,
1962; Nyerere, 1967, Mabika-Kalanda, 1965), and needs no
60
of view, but in tlie long range the disadvantages of using Euro-
pean languages as media of instruction far outweigh any pos-
sible advantages that we can think of. Among these the follow-
ing seem to affect the educational developmentsin sub-Saharan
Africa in a critical way. First, the acquisition of the European
medium of instruction is rendered very difficult because of the
iack of rein forcement outside of the classroom situation. At
the present time languages like English, French, and Portuguese
remain the exclusive privilege of a very small African minority,
viz. the elite. The elite in any of the regions where anY of
these languages dominates May not constitute even ten
percent of the population. What is worse for the student
is that very few families in this class who claim to speak
these languages ftuently use them at home, instead they
use their mother tongues or linguae francae. The conditions
for learning the language of instruction are very poor; as
a result, the student is often incapable, as Ansre (1969:9) cor-
rectly observes, of sustaining a discussion or an argument in
either the vernacular or the language of instruction. He finds
himself travelling between two different worlds, the school and
the home, neither of which, is reinforcing the experiences of
the other.
Second because of the student's inability to master the
language of instruction, his ability to understand Illany acade-
mic concepts is accordingly affected. The most eloquent
example of this is the poor performances of students in the
secondary and university entrance examinations, not to say
anything about their general performance in the regular end-of-
the-year examinations. For instance, as of 1973 only 5% of all
the elementary school graduates in Ghana gained admission
into secondary schools, l ~ v i n g 95% of the children without
further opportunities for education (Apronti, 1974).
In Zare, where over 70% of all school age children attend
primary school, one fmds that only 30% of the entrants
complete the first four grades or what is considered as the
level for achieving literacy (George, 1966; Georis and Agbiano,
1966; Rideout, Wilson, et al., 1969). Today, as it has been in
past twenty years or so, the national wastage rate of elementary
school graduates in Zare varies between 62-74%, and that of
secondary schools between 90-94%. At the university level,
59
3.2.1: , A,dvantages of Colo1!-ial Languages
Considering the present stage of: of of
the that, of,; political insti-
we canreadily isolate' twomajor advantages, the/"""
use, of, .. European languages as, of fo:.:mal
First, tltechoice of' a nationallanmage for and other
national gqvemmental, in any African cOllntry is a
difficult undertaking, because of the multiplicity of languages
and : the str.ong ,language loyaltiesthat exist in societies
(cf. Bokamha, 1976). Even in countries like Nigeria, Kenya,
and Zaire, among othrs" where, three or four major lingUae
francae .. havebeen identified as languages, the
elevation of any of lrem to the, statu! of:
of education is very likely to lead to language conflicts' if the
planning is not done carefully. S",ch, conflicts can become ,so
politically divisive as to .destroy the little semblance of
national' unity that most: African nations: have 'achived since
their ascendency ,to political indpendence. One way to obvia te
this possible danger for the' time, being while African nations
are buildirig stronger politicai " institutions and" developing
stronger felings' of nationaJism, . is to adopt polirlcally rieutral
ianguages like English, French, and Portuguese as media of
instruction.By politically neutral languages here we IDean
languages that cannot be identified with any national ethl:c
group.
Second, the use of colo.niaJ languages is' presntly
geous of their extensive, written literatures. 'African
languages are very deficient in this area, and the. ,development
of teachlng materials as as teaching cadres in this, area
does not, 'permit at this time the general implementation of
language policies .that call, for, the use of selected. national
as media, of even iLsuch -poli,
cieswer.e to, be adopted little language conflicts. ,This
does notmean, that such language policies cannot be-.... -
implemented in a restricted manner as in the case
of ,We will retum,' to this point ID another section
below.
3.2.2 Disadvantages ofpolonial Languages
These factors are advantages only in the short-term point
58
aims and aspirations of the people to correct the kind of pro-
blems that Ukeje (1966) discusses. .
What we have summarized here, however, are merely ideals
that have yet to be translated into reality. Study after study
shows to the contraiy that the present educational systems in
Africa have anything to do with the aspirations, needs, and
cultural heritage of the African society (cf. Balogh, 1962,
1966; Resnick, 1976; Gbedemah, 1971; Tlou, 1976; among
others). The same concems expressed by the Addis Ababa
Conference in 1961 are still true today, fifteen years later.
Thus, although the need for refonn has been aCKnowledged,
the legacy of colonial education sfill lingers on in niost African
states. The colonial languages are one ofthese.
3.2 The Language Factor in Education
As the reader May have gathered from the preceeding
discussion, most African states are multilingual; therefore,
they do not only have to contend with problems of economic
development and national integration, but also the need to
fmd effective media of critical concern because, as we have
stated ab ove , . education is the main vehicle through which'
general developD)ent can be achieved. Such a development in
our opinion, cannot be achieved without incorporating into
the educational system the vehicles of African cultures and
civilizations, namely the African languages.
At the present time, however, English, French, and Portu-
guese are being used as the official media of instruction in the
so-called anglophone (i.e. former British colonies), francophone
(for fonner French and Belgian colonies), and lusophone
African states, This policy, we have shown, is a
Colonial legacy. The question that arises in one's mindat this
l
point is this, in what sense can this policy of europeanization of
. t;he media of education to train Africans for African needs help
these hewly independent nations achieve the goals set out at
the Addis Ababa Conference in 1961? That is, in what way( s)
is thispolicy consistent with the educational and develop-
mental objectives of Africa? Our contention is that it is
inconsistent with them. Let us examine why this is the
case.
57
Apart, from making targets for the 'next. twenty years, 'the
Conference also noted an anomaly in .the African educational
system. The Conference, pointed out that the content, of
edlJcation in Africa then was not in Une with existing African
conditions, the postulates of political independence, the
nant features of an essentially technological age" or the
imperatives of balanced economic development involving rapid
industrialization, but was based on a non-African background
allowing no room for the African child's intelligence, powers
of observation and creative imagination to develop freely and
help him/her find his/her bearing in the world. The conference
recommended that African educational' authorities should
revise and reform the content of education in the areas of the
curricula, textbooks and methods, 50 as to take into account
the African environment, cultural heritage inc1uding the langua-
ge development, and the demands of technological progress and
economic development, especially industrialization.
Ukeje (1966) in his book, Education for Social Reconstruc-
tion, points out the same concerns with respect to the
Nigerian education. He states that the Nigerian education
experiences among primary school children has been a process
of making peoplemisfits in their indigenous culture. Conse-
quently, once a person receives some elementary school edu-
cation he/she can no longer live comfortably in the rural
communities. Invariably he/she leaves for the big cities in search
of new life, and thus becomes ineffective for either the stabili-
zation of his/her indigenous cuiture or for its change. One of the
Most 'fundamental aims of education is to improve the welfare
of the people in agiven society; for, as Jeffrey (1943-:3) observes:
Education is the direct means by which a people seeks to
shape its own destiny and transform itself from what it knows
itself to be to what it would hope to become. The forms of
education will therefore be determined by the deepest
feelings of a people about itself and about its future.
The aims and objectives of education expressed by Many
African government authorities are noble, ideal as well as
practical; they reveal that education in Africa mustbe related :
to the conditions and needs of the African societies, and the ,
/
56
African languages in national affairs by assigning them to these
functions. In other words, these languages can be used as the
media of international trade,' diplomaey, and the like by the
countries in which they are presently serving as official
languages; while selected African national languages can be used
as media of instruction and other internal affairs on the national
or regional basis. The EUI'opean languages would be taught
in the school system as compulsory subjects just like mathe-
matics and sciences.
3
Such a comprehensive language policy is necessary anyway
in view of the goals of African education expressed by African
leaders at the Addis Ababa Conference in 1961, and which
they are striving to achieve this decade.
S.l The Addis Ababa RecommendatioDs
These educational objectives are based on the recommenda-
tions of the Addis Ababa Conference of 1961 which was
convened by both the UNESCO and the Economic Commission
for Africa to outline an educational plan keyed to provide
economic growth and social progress in African countries for
the next two decades (UNESCO, 1961 : 15). The final report
and recon:unendations of the Conference made the following
stipulations, among others: (a) that the development of natural
and (b) the content of education should be related
to economic needs, with greater weight being given to science
and its plications; and (c) that African nations should aim at
providing universal primary education while at the same time
giving special attention to adult education and on-the-job train-
ing. The long term objectives for the whole continent included:
(1) universal free education and compulsory primary education
--by 1980; (2) at the secondary level to enroll 30% of the
chlldren who complete primary school, i.e. 23% of the age
cohorts; (3). higher education to be provided mostly in Africa
itself, to about 20% of those who complete secondary educa-
tion i.e. 2% of the age group and (4) constant improvement
of the quality of African schools and universities (UNESCO,
1961).
55
The motivatingfactors for the.retention and/or the proDio-
tion of European languages as the main media of instruction
in the African educational systems could not have been better
stated than in this .. It is undeniable that English, French,
and Portuguese' have established themselves as the languages ,,/
of prestige and upward mobility in many African states. And
as long as progress is defined in terms of industriIization and
economic developrnent, these languages will continue. to provide
one of the keys to this aspect of developmeilt.
However, the that the use of selected AfricaD languages
as media and/or subjects of instruction constitutes a barrier to
progress, regardless of how this term is defined, is, in our
opinion, pedagogically unfounded and unsupported by the case
histories of planning in countries such as China (cf.
Lehmann, 1974), Norway (cf. Haugen, 1966, 1968), and Russia
(cf. Weinreich, 1953, Norway (cf. Haugen, 1966, 1968), and
Russia (cf.Weinreich, 1953, G. Lewis, 1972). People who argue
that the replacement of European languages by African languages
in education seem to confuse what is an extremist view of
language policy with a sound language policy. An extremist
language policy would advocate the simple abandonement of
the European languages as media of instruction in the African
educational system and their replacement by selected indi-
genous languages. In contrast, a sound language policy would
cali for the assignment of specific functions to language
according to the tealities of the society concemed (cf. Whitelt,
1971). This. is the type of language policy that we would like
to argue for in this study.
In particular, given the fact that (a) English, French and Por-
tuguese are among the most widely used international languages
of trade, diplomacy, science, and education; (b) that they have
established themselves in Africa as the languages of the e1ite,
and therefore, of upward mobility;. and (c) that they have a
long history of written literature, a policythat would advocate
their simple elimination from the educational system in any
African state would be not only unrealistic, but would also be
doomed to fallure. Instead, taking into account the develop-
mental and political goals of any African' nation, a sound
language policy wou,Id have to recognize the role of English,
French, and Portuguese in international affairs, and that of
54

colonial languages in education in Africa is what is often tenned
as 'progress' or 'development'.1 Progress or development in such
discussion is generally understood as meaning industrialization
and associated technological achievements. The argument often
heard in this regard is that the use of African languages as the
only media of instruction will impede the progress of the
African people and retard their integration into the modem
world.
In explaining the language policies of Ghana, for instance t
Dr. Dowuona
2
(1969.: 3) in effect summarized what we have
found to he a common theme in the African states we have
surveyed when he stated:
The reasons .hehind all of these changes were partly political
and practical. On the one hand, politicians striving for
national unit y ; for the suppression of trihalism, for rapid
industrialization and accelerated economic development,
saw in Ghanaian languages a harrier to progresSe On the other
hand, the vast majority of the people themselves wanted to
enter quickly into the new material civilization to which a
knowledge of English provided qne of the keys. Rapid
development, it was felt, could he achieved through a
knowledge of English, and new experiments in English as a
medium of instruction right from the rust year of school
were hegun in the so-called Experimental Schools.
1. Crockcroft, Frank, and Johnson (1972 : xvi) propose a better definition of
'development' which wc: have adopted here. And that is,
Real development involves a structural transformation of the economy, society,
poUcy and culture of the satellite (nation) that permita the self-generating
and self-perpetuating use. and development of the people's potential. Development
comes about as a consequence of a people's frontal attack on oppression,
exploitation, and poverty that they suffer at the bands of the dominant
classes and their system.
Viewed in this manner, development becomes what Johnson (1972:278) terms
"the happy coincidence of structural change and improvement in the human
The commonly accepted view of development as an expansion upon
it-prev1ous base as reflected in annual growth of national products, increase in
IOdaI mobility, and differentiation of rQles/functions, etc. is thus made inadequate.
To our knowledge, very few African states have developmental goals which are
consonant with the above definition at the implementationallevel.
2. Dr. Dowuona was the commissioner of National Education in Ghana at the time
he made the presentation from which t6is passage is quoted. He spoke, theretore,
from a double perspective of the problem; first, as an educator, and second as a
politician.
53
or other European languages must thereforeserveas the
medium -of instruction is unwarranted. We shall retum to this
point later.
2.2.2 National Unity
The second major advanced in favour of the reten-
tion of European languages as media of instruction in inde-
p'endent African states is that the choice of indigenous ntional
language is a highly divis ive undertaking politically. It is argued
in this respect that the choice of one as the national
language and medium of instruction in any multi-lingual nation
in will be interpreted by some part of the populati9n as a
rejection of other languages.
The implementation of the language policy, therefore, cannot
be carrled out successfully without entailing political conflicts
which. could destroy the delicate national unit y that African
states have trie<! to forge since the advent of political inde-
pendence. A related argument is that- the use .of several indige-
nous African languages as media of instruction will encourage
'tribalism' . Therfore, to avoid the. danger of divisiveness
associated with .the selection of a national language and discou-
rage ethnicity, African leaders have opte.cl for the europeani-
zation of the media of instruction (cf. Dowuona, 1969 : 3). If
these arguments are correct, then we fail to se.e how they can
apply to linguistically homogeneous nations such as Botswana,
Lesotho and Swaziland where multilingualism is absent, but
where. English, instead of Tswana and Sotho, remains the
language of instruction.
This kind of approach to the problem is unproductive inas-
much as it evades the issue, rather than offer a solution; the
only consolation May be that the day. 9f fmal reckoning
is postponed. While it is undeniable that strong language loyal-
ties exist in Africa as they do elsewhere, the fears
with the adoption of a single national language can be alleviated
by adopting a comprehensive language policy which recognizes
the functions that each language objectively deserves as we shall
propose below.
2.2.3 National Progress
The final factor considered to favour the retention of (
/
52
/
education Africa seem to assume, one of the arguments adva-
nced against the, use of African languages in education is that
they are not sufficiently developed or modernized (cf. Gorman,
1914b; Walusimbi, 1912). The second argument is that teaching
, in African languages is not possible at the present time because
of the lack of teaching materials and trained African cadres.'
These problems, it. is argued, can be obviated by adopting the
colonial languages as media, of, instruction. Astatementquoted
in Gorman (1.914b) from the Report of the Kenya Education
'Commission of 1964: speaks eloquently on this point. The
Commission, after reporting that the .great majority of the
witnesses questioned on the use of Englishas the medium of
instruction in Kenya wished to see the universal use of this
language as the medium of education ftom grade one, con-
curred with the view by stating that:
First, the English medium makes possible a systematic
development . of language study and Iiteracy which would
be very difficult to achieve in the vernaculars. Secondly, as a
result of the systematic development possible in the English
medium, quicker progress is possible in ail subjects. Thirdly,
the foundation laid in the first three years is more scientifi-
cally conceived, and therefore provides more solid basis for
aIl subsequent studies, than was ever possible in . the old ver-
nacular teaching. Fourthly, the difficult transition from a
vemacular to an English medium, which can take up much in
Primary V, is avoided. Fifthly, the resulting Iiilguistic equip-
ment is expected to be much more satisfactory, 'an advantage
that cannot fail to expedite and improve the quaIity of post-
primary education of ail kinds. Lastly, advantage has been
taken of the new medium tointroduce modem infant techni-
ques mto the first three years, including activity and group
work and a balanced development of muscular coordination.
--ln-short (the' report concluded), we have no doubt about the
, "advantages of English medium to the whole' educationaI
process (Gonnan, 1914b: 441).
Similar arguments have been given in justification for the use
of English in Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, and for the use of French
in Zare. Admittedly, there is some validity to the c1aim made
in the above statement insofar as the lack of teaching materials
in the vemacular is concemed, but the conclusion that English
51
1965), one would expect African leaders to react to the conti-
nuation of the use of their former colonial masters' languages
in education as an instance of cultural imperialism. But this
does not' appear to be the case; the question is why this is
so.
2.2 Motivati9D for Retention of Colonial Languages . '
The answer toi questions is complex in that it involves
the 'consi4eration of Many . The general view that
from the litratureon this topic (cf. lUrnie and Ansre,
',Spencer, 1971a, b; Gbedemah, 1971; Ansre, 1970;
Ladfoged, et al., 1972; Gorman, 1974; among others) is that
the present language policies of African states vis-a-vis education
are dictatd by three practical considerations: '(1) efficiency and
expedieIicy, (2) national unity"or;political considerations; and
(3) national progresse .
2.2.1 Efficiency Expendiency
The for the efficiel)q of the European languages
in education' couched in; ,pseudo-linguistic terms
involving the contraSt, explicit or implicit, between the levels
of what Ferguson (1968) caIls lnguage "modemization" of the
European and' African languages. Acording toFerguson (1968:
28), languagemodrnization is measured in terrils of:
;#te ,develQpment of other languages
: in a range ,of topics and forms of, c:1iscourse characteristic of
industrialized,:. structurally differentiated; "mo-
dem" societies.
In other words, the process ofmoderniiarlonma:y be thought
of as consisting of two aspects: (a) the expansion of the voca.bu-
lary or lexicon of the language by' new words and expressions,
and (b) ,:the development of new styles and forms of discourse
50 ,as toenable the language to become the equal of other
developed languages as a medium of national and international
Notice that it is not accidental that western
languages, i.e. languages of the "industrialized societies", are
taken as the model for language modemization. "
'Given' Ferguson's definition of language modemization
which Many opponents of, the indegenization. of 'the media of
50
The language policies of Kenya, Tanganyika (i.e. Tanzania),
and Uganda, which parallelled that of the Congo for approxi-
mately the same period, are another example of the rapid
europeanization of the media of African education since inde-
pendence. The use of vemaculars in education has been gradu-
ally phased out so that in these countries, except for Tanzania,
English has become, at least in the ory , the sole medium of
instruction at all levels. As for the teaching of the major
languages of these countries, Walusimbi (1972) reports with
respect of Uganda, for instance, that even tholJBh the Govem-
ment recognizes six official languages and requires their
teaching in elementary and secondary schools as weIl as in
teacher training colleges, Luganda is the only one of the six
that is taught up to School Certificate level. The other five
languages, viz. Ateso/ Akarimojong, Lugbara, Lwo, Runyankore/
Rukiga, and Runyoro/Rutooro, are taught in prlmary schools
and teacher training colleges only (Walusimbi, 1972 : 143).
Tanzania, however, has adopted Swahili as the national language
and medium of instruction for all pre-university education. The
policy is to completely phase out English from this level as
soon as the necessary Swahili materials and stilff are available.
1
ln summary, we have seen that in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda,
and Zare, there has been inva.QAQly a gradual shift, dating
back to the colonial period, in tIl .... irection of the
zation of the media of instruction with a concommittant neg-
lect of the teaching of African languages. Except for Tanzania,
there have been no serious attempts at the indigenization of the
media of instruction in the nations surveyed in the present
study. The type of langUage policy development exemplified
by Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and Zare is characteristic of
former Belgian and British colonies or protectorates in Africa.
1
It is rather ironic, considering the emergence of African
nationalism in the early 1960's, to note that most of die
language policies found in the Afncan nations surveyed
have been adOpittd since the advent of independence. The
question that cornes to mind at, this point is why independent
African states have opted for the europeanization, rather than
for the indegenization, of their media of instruction. Given the
rhetoric associated with the independence movements in the
sixties (cf. Lumumba, 1961; VanlcLide, 1963; Nkrumah,
49
English as the sole medium grade three onwards (Ansre,
1969 : 8-9). Further, Ghanaian languages have been dropped
from the Cambridge School Certificate.
In what is today Zaire, to move south-eastward, a similar
language policy" and the same trend toward the
europeanizatioH 8f !he medium of instruction since independe-
nce hasbeen noted. Specifically, because of the dominant role
of church missions in the field of education and their desire to
translate the Bible in the vernaculars, a number of major Congo-
lese languages such as Kikongo, Lingala, Lonkundo/Lomongo,
Swahili, Tetela, Tshiluba, etc. were used as media of instruction
throughout much of the elementary school system and taught
as subjects through the secondary school level. French was
generally introduced as a in grade rivo or three. This
policy remained' in force until the advent of the so-called
"regime metropolitain" in 1958 when Belgian colonialists
sought to''Pllase the elite by making available to the
Congolese chfldfen the Belgian educational system which was
until then for their own children and those of other
Europeans. :
The metropolitan system required the use of French as the
sole medium of instruction from grade one onwards. In practice
however, most schools used the regional vernaculars or linguae
francea' as media of instruction for the first thre our four years
of elementary education, and introduced French as a subject in
grade two or three. But with the advent of Congolese indepe-
ndence in 1960, 'the Educational Refonn Commission
appointed by Congolese Government decided in 1962 to
impose the use of French as the sole medium of instructiori for
ail levels of education from grade one onwards (George, 1966;
Georis and Agbiano, 1965; Rideout,.et al., 1969).
Two years ago an attempt was made at the first Congress of
Zairian linguists to recommend a national language and a
language policy to the Zairian National Government, but the
Congress failed to agree on the choice .. of a national language.
It recommended, however, that the four Zairian linpae francae
be used 'aS m'edia of instruction in each of the provinces in
which they are dominant (for detailed discussion of these
recommendations see Bokamba, 1976). These recommendations
are yet to be adoptedby the Government; and in the meantime
French remains the medium of instruction.
48
1922, which regulated private education and reIigious teaching
in overseas temtories. This ordinance stated that:
GeneraI education must be caqied in French . . The
Coranic schools and catechist schools .are authorized to
provide exclusively a religious education in the vemacuIars.
Such schools are nQt considered as institutions of public
education. (Spencer, 1971 : 543).
Simllar regulations existed in the Portuguese colonies. Inte-
restingly, these are the language polides practised today in the
independent francophone and luso-phone African States
In the former Belgian and colonies in contrast, the use
of vemaculars as meclia and subjects of instruction was encour-
aged, thanks largely to the dominant role of missionaries in the
field of African education. The Belgian and British educators
subscribed to the principle advocated in the first decade of this
century that the most effective medium of instruction in the
preliminary stage of a child's education is his mother tongue a
principle which was re-echoed by the UNESCO in 1953 (Lewis,
1962; Unesco 1953a; Gorman, 1974).
Accordingly, British missionaries in Ghana, for example,
made extensive use of some of the Ghanaian major languages
in the school system both as media and subjects of instruc-
tion. They produced books in Twi, Ga, Ewe, and Fante;
and influenced colonial language polides vis-a-vis education.
The language policy adopted in Ghana from the earliest period
of missionary work in education until the attainement of
Ghanaian independence involved the use of vemacuIars as
media of instruction, at least for the fllst three years of primary
education, and their teaching as compulsory subjects in the
primary and secondary schools and teacher training colleges.
Major Ghanaian languages were on the G.C.E.
(General Examination) and on the Cambridge School
Certificate .Examination until 1967 (Ansre, 1969: 8). But
according to Ansre (1969) and Dowuona (1969), the use of
Ghanaian languages as media of instruction has gradually lapsed
since independence, and their teaching as subjects has been
neglected. The net result is that in 1968 the language policy in
force in Ghana restricted the use of Ghanian languages as media
of instruction to the first two grades, and imposed the use of
47
2 THE LANGUAGE POLICIES OF AFRICAN STATES
At the risk of over-simplifying a complex problem, it can be
said with little hesitation that the language. policies of most
independent African states vis-a-vis education today are the
continuation of the colonial policies. It is instructive in this
respect to compare the language policies in practice in some
African states, especially in the former Belgian and British
colonies, during the pre-independence and post-independence
periode
2.1 Colonial poncles and Their Legacies ,
In examining the question of language use in education in
Africa or anywhere in the world, it is important to bear in mind
that language policies are aImost alwayspolitical decisions. To
quote Gorman (1974 : 397):
Decisions on language use in a particular society are almost
invariably subordinate to, or a reflection of, underlying
political and social values and AOals. Even in educational
domain, . considerations, while relevant, are
seldom primary in influencing decisions relating to the use
of languages as media or subjects. of instruction ..
Thus in Africa, the language policies practised by the four
. colonial powers, viz. Belgium France, Britain and Portu-
gal, vetY much their colonial political philosophies.
The French and Portuguese, because of their phitosophy of
assimiliation of the i\fricans to a higher "civilization,"
raged the use. of vernaculars as media and subjects of instruction
in the &Chool system; they required all instruction to be in their
languages (Spencer, 1971; Gorman, 1974). French colonialists,
as will be reca1led, felt that they had ''une mission civilisatrice"
(a civilizing mission) in Africa, and this could only be done
through a assimilation. The use of the French language
was, therefore, an integral part of this prQcess. Their linguistic
policy in Africa was regulated by . two ordinances. The first
ordinance was the metropolitan Ordinance of Villers-Cotteret
of 1539 which forbade the use of languages other than French
in a1l oficia! funcdoDS within the tenitories of France (Spencer,
1971 : 548). The second is the Ordinance of February 14,
46
THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE LANGUAGE POLICIES OF
AFRICAN STATES VIS-A-VIS EDUCATION*
by Eyamba G. Bokamba and J osiah S. Tlou
1. INTRODUCTION
Education in Africa constitutes one of the top governmental
priorities which absorbs, in most states, from twenty-five to
thirty-five percent of the national budget. In some countries
it is the first or second most single expensive budgetary item;,
yet the retums, that most Africangovernments get from this
investment are highly incommensurate with the expenses.
The main point of thjs paper is to argue, on the basis of data
from Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and
Zare, that the present language polides of Sub-SaharanAfrican
states constitute a major obstacle to the development of genera-
lized education in Africa. In particular, we argue here that as
long as formai education ' la European remains the main
avenue through which personal upward mobiIity and national
development can be achieved, the continuation of the use of
for.eign languages such as English, French and Portuguese as the
media of instruction will restrict access to post-primary edu-
cation to a small minority of Africans, and willlead to a consi-
derable waste of potential human resources. The consequences
of such language policies vis-a-vis education will be to consider-
ably slow down if not make impossible, the achievement of self-
reliance that many African states have been strivhrg for, and
thereby perpetuate African dependency on foreign "experts"
for the survival of Black Africa.
This is a reviscd version of the paper prcsented at the 7th Conference on J\frican
Lingujstics held at the University of Florida, Gainesville, April 28-25, 1976. Its
presentation at this Conference wu made possible by a smaI1 travel grant from
the University of Illinois' African Studies Center to Dr. Bokamba; and part of the
research reported here was supported by a Research Gl3Dt from this Center to
Professor Bokamba for the spring semester of 1975-76. l'he other part of the
study is based on Dr. Tlou's own dissertaon field work in Botswana and otha:
parts of Southern Africa. We are very grateful to the African Studies Center for
its support.
45
THE CONSEQUENCES OF
THE LANGUAGE POLICIES OF
AFRICAN STATES
VIS-A-VIS EDUCATION
by Eyamba G. Bokamba
and
Josiah S. Tiou
Spolsky, B. and Cooper R. Frontiers of Bilingual Education, Newbury House
Publishen, Massachusetts 1977.
UNESCO. Index 1969-1974, Unesco, Paris.
Verhaegen, B. L'Enseignement Universitaire au Zare, de Lovanium a l'Unaza
1958-1978, Editions l'Hannattan 1978, Paris.
Ziegler,J. Main Basse sur L'Afrique, Editions du Seuil, Paris, 1978.
41
and other things. It is high time, but not yet too late, that we
acknowledged that our attachment to other peoples' languages
does not make us progress politically., culturally and econo-
faster: but on the contrary we notice that our policy
of development' based on foreign linguistic means has not suc-
ceeded in niaking us produce the goods' and services corres-
ponding even to the population explosion.
REFERENCES
Center for Applied ,Linguistics: The Linguistic Reporter, Oct. 1978 Center for
Applid Linguisti(;lr VJrgnia, USA.
CeNenka, Zdenek. The Unfinished Quest for Unity: Africa and the OAU; Julian
Friedmann Publishers Ltd. ,
Diop, Alieune. Du Comfort Cultural, ,Presence Africaine No. 107; 1978 pp. 8-7.
Enahoro, Peter 'The Devil We Don't Know': New A.frican Magazine, Nov. 1978.
Ethiopian Herald 19 Oct. 1978.
Heine, Bemd StlItvs and 'Use of African Lingua' Francas. Weltforum Verlag.
Munchen, Germany 1970.
Hopkins, T. The Development and Implementation of the National Language Policy
in Kenya; in LangriDge and ,Linguistic Problems in Africa. Ed. by P. Kotey
and Der-Houssikiam.
Hornby, Peter (Editor) Bilmgualism. Academie Press, 1977.
Kahane, Henry and Renee. Decline 'and Survival of Western Prestige Languages in
Language (Journal of the Linguistic Society of America), Vol. 55" No. 1,
March 1979, pp. 188-198. ,
Kawgha, Douglas F.8. 'Language in Education in Tanzania; Past, Present and
Futre', foithcoming in African Language, lAI London.
Kotey P. and DerHoussikian, H.,' (Editon) Language and Linguistic Problems in
in Africa, Hombeam Press, INc. USA, 1977
. KhaJid, AbdaUah The Liberation of Swahili /rom European AptlrOf1t"4tion; E.A.
Literatw:e Bureau, Nairobi, Kenya 1977.
Laitin, D. Language and Thought; TM Somali Experiences; University of
, Chicago Press, 1971.
Malanda, Den. La Mentalite Africaine et L'avenir de la Science; Editions du B.A.S.E.,
Kisangani, Zare.
Mateene, La situation Linguistique en Afrique Centrale, in Langues et Politiques
de Langues en Afrique Noire, Edit. AJ Sow, UNESCO-NUBIA, pp. 180-202.
Michalon, Th. 'Quel Etat pour l'Afrique,' Presence Africaine, No. 107, 1978
pp. US-54.
National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education. The Bilingual Education -Act USA
Public Law 95-561.
Ohanesaian and Kashoki, Editon. Language in Zambia, African
Institute London 1978.
Sembene, Ousmane. La Culture est le Levain de la Politique, mais l'integrisme,
c'est la in ]une Afrique No. 976 du 19 Sep. i979 pp. 71-75.
Skutnabb-Kangu. Language in the Proceu of Cultural Assimilation and Structural
Incorporation .of Linguislic, Minorities. Ed. National Clearinghouse for Billngual
Education, 19?9 Rosslyn, Virginia, USA.
Societe Africaine de Culture 'Civilisation' in: Presence Africtzine, No. 109, 1979;
'p.8-10. ' . '
40
European languages. African populations have a right to have
their schools run in their own languages.
On the other band, the system of education which trains
school leavers in foreign languages orient"ed towards the Univer-
sity which only admits a small number, is a complete failure
which must be rectified at once. The majority of school
leavers, unable to gain admission to the university and to find
jobs in town, would be more useful in their areas of origin, if
they had been encouraged to leam their languages.
If leaders hold on to keeping foreign languages which
will safeguard, for sometime, their own material interests, they
must at least set up, for the majority of their fellow citizens, a
bilinguaI or multilingua1 system of education which leaves the
possibility of either being officially educated in more than one
language, or of leaming more than one language, and of which
one must in all cases be an African language.
Under-development, the 1ack of text books, and scarcity of
teachers of a language are poor excuses when we present
them as reasons preventing the use of that language in teaching.
It is not on the achievement of these conditions that a language
automaticaIly get' its official status. On the contrary, it is a
clearly defined policy in favour of a language which deter-
mines the plan of its development, the production of teaching
materiaI and the trining of teachers.
We have proved that the use of African languages in
education will increase the number and the quality of our
school population and is going to speed up economic develop-
ment which requires the effective participation of the majority
of the population. The restoration of the value of African
languages is dn its part a very important condition to the solu-
tion of our problems of global development and national
independence.
Having sufficiently proved that the use of our languages is
not only a factor, but also a condition of the rapid and
harmonious development of our countries in all fields, we
must point out the urgency of making these languages our
official languages of work, at least at national levels, for it is
important that work and production increase with the help of
all those who are present to feed the generations of tomorrow
whose number increases faster than the production of food
39
dangers of maintaining a foreign language as a dominant
language of a nation which has got its own language all combine
to maintain that nation in a perpetuaI state of under develop-
ment both culturally, intellectually and economically.
We have pointed out the contradiction which exists between
rapid economic development presented as the primodial reason
for keeping European . languages in Africa and the catastrophic
consequences of linguistic dependence. The keeping of colonial
languages as main working languages in the whole administra-
tive machinery of our countries does not emanate from a
valid reason but rather from the desire, conscious or uncon-
scious on the part of the minority elite, to keep and .protect
their short term privileges, inherited from the colonial era: it
also probably comes from the human tendency which prevents
us from deliberately or willingly being detached from our
mental habits of which our linguistic habits are part. It also,
perhaps, comes from selfishness: all people in power are
linguisticlly selfish. They have the tendency to rule in the
language they know best, leaving it to the people ruled to
make an effort to understand. This is why the necessary
decisions that must be taken to re-establish the situation in
favour of African peoples require of our present leaders not
only much SCrifice, but a1so a greater independence of mind
and self denial. The decisions to be taken to give respect to
African languages are political decisions and governments
cannot . dodge them. European languages have got prestige in
our countries because, by the wish of our govemments, they
are the languages of education, the languages we must know
to get jobs both in the private sector and the civil service, the
languages we must know in order to listen to the news on
radio and and to read national newspapers.
These! are advantages which by political decision can be
accorded to African languages to make them just as presdgeous
as European languages in Africa. Thus Kiswahili bas prestige
in Tanzania and dsewhere in Africa due to the policy followed
by the Tanzanian govemment in favour of this African language.
The radical changes being prescnDed must ust of all be applid
toeducation which is the key field to any independence. It is
abnormal and contrary to any national interest
that education in Africa should Ile carried out exclusively in
S8
We conclude our refutation by asserting that it is not
technical underdevelopment or the multiplicity of languages in
a number of our countries, nor the fact that they ail are not yet
international languages, which prevents us from making them
official. The action of making a language official is a political
decision by which one affirms one's power in the cultural
field. It is not an automatic or obligatory consequence of the
possible fulfilment of the above referred to conditions.
the colonisers impose their languages to countries which were
aIready linguistically united, including a few monollngual
African countries? Thy even replaced developed and inter-
national languages by their own. Thus the French replaced
German in ex-German Cameroon; the English replaced it in
Cameroon and Tanzania; the Belgians in Rwanda and Burundi;
in the Philippines and Puerto Rico, the Americans replaced
Spanish; the British replaced French in Mauritius and partly in
Canada. Power transfer includes language. We seem to lack
the will to assume power in a. field other than the political
fiel d. And yet political independence alone is not very lasting,
as it is threatened by those who dominate us economically and
culturally.
CONCLUSION
Linguistic dependence of Africa upon Westem Europe is
a reality inherited from the colonial era. However, the impo-
sition of a language which results from a more or less long
peIiod of colonisation is not a heritage defmitively acquired
or irreversible. Colonization can leave more or less persistent
traces, but a people which has been under foreign-
dOJnination always ends up by being linguistically independent.
This lesson of history applies to different peoples, ranging from
the Greek domination of the ancient world, Latin over medie-
val Europe, of French over England, to the domination of the
various modem European languages over several countries of
the third world. The more or less rapid conquest of Iinguistic
ind.ependence depends upon the early or late awareness of the
dangers of the maintenance of a colonial language by a people
which has been under foreign domination. The numerous
37
have only to seize the occasion and favour one or some of the
local national languages, instead of taking refuge in the stotus
quo whicb .perpetuates a foreign Janguage's foot-hold.
If the objective of the OAU is to tnify linguistically the
l
the peoples of Africa, instead of uniting only the leading elite
of these peoples, the promotion and the diffusion of some
African languagesamong these peoples is far more preferable
than the maintenance of foreign languages as obligatory working
languages in Africa, which languages would only be used by
the ruling minority. Either African unity is meant for the
leaders or it concems all the peoples of the continent, of both
the present and future generations.
Inter-African Level
Some languages considered as main languages at the national
level have aIready by their dynamism gone beyond the borders
of national territory. One way of spreading further sucb lan-
guages is to teach them in the countries where they are not
national languages. This should be done with the aim of making
them known and usedin common by. an increasing number of
Africans' of different nationalities. It is here that interstate
collaboration among Aicans is MoSt required; without that
collaboration, African' linguistic unit y , which was envisaged
since 1966, when the Heads of State and Government summit
conference created the OAU' Bureau of Languages, will never
be' achieved.
The fu,ndamental objective assigned to this Bureau is pre-
cisely to give Africans a truly African means of international
communication to the exclusion of foreign languages whose
p.resent ~ s is only provisionally tolerated. That the knowledge
of an AfricaD language alloWing us to ommunicate with other
African countries near or far is desired by the various African
nations is proved by the very large majority of individuals' in
these nations who actually speak at leastone more African
lariguage otherthan their national languag and by our
willingness or desire to know those !anguageswhich we do not
yet know, as it is indicated by the spectacular success whichhas
been shown by the sale of the Kiswahili-Lingala manual,
published in 1975 by the OAU Inter-African Bureau of Langua-
ges in Kampala.
36
by the speakers of the numerically smaller languages. These
main languages can be the official languages of government,
whiJ.e the right of locally limited use is accorded to the minority
lan@;uages, which could for example be used as languages of
prmlary school education, to allow children to do their fust
learning of writing and reading in a mother language. At the
national level, if the main languages are used in their respective
regions, they will be learned by choice in .each other's region.
The local minority languages will contribute to the enrichment
of c:ertain main languages through their literatures which will
be translated into the other languages, so as to be known at a
higher national level. In the same way reference would be made
to them with a view to enriching the vocabulary of a main
The success scored in Uganda by the publication of
the Inter-African Bureau of Languages of the OAU, namely
of the Luganda-Kiswahili manuaI, seems to prove that' a popu-
latk)n who se language is not chosen as the national official
language is not necessarily going to refuse to learn the language
chosen which is not its own.
The 5,000 copies of the book in question were bought by
who wanted to learn Kiswahili. Even if we want to
str(:tch towards Iinguistic unification of the nation, this proce-
dUIe can in the long run prove very effective. A language
fav.)ured by factors other than a political decision can one
da)' impose itself on everybody. This institutionalization of
sev.eral languages is a better solution than the maintenance
of a single colonial language giving a foreign power privileges
which are culturally dangerous.
ln any case, linguistic diversity within a common indepe-
ndt:nce set-up, is far. better than Iinguistic .unity under foreign
dependence. In fact, Iinguistic diversity in a unitary state as
we see in Africa carries in itself the germ of its destruction.
African states . are in themselves factors of the Iinguistic
unification inside their present frontiers. The birth or the
sp(,ntaneous formation of a common language is a necessary
consequence of the interactions which must take place on one
haJld between the populationswhich are linguistic$lly diverse
be10nging to one political entity, and on the other band
be1:ween each of these diverse populations and the govem-
which unites them. The present Afr.ican govemments
35
already developed languages of Europe, namely, German,
Russian, English, French, yet instead of choosing one of these
languages as a national official language of new state,
the officials of the first Israeli governmel).t founded their unity
on a primitive language, that of their ancestors, whose develop-
ment had tobe canied out hand in hand'with the achievements
of the other national objectives.
On its accession to independence in 1947, Indonesia had
inberited another highly European language, Dutch,
which it could have kept as the official language, iD. the very
complicated situation of linguistic diversity where it found
itself. On the contrary, it chose as the offlciallanguage, Malay,
one of the local under developed languages, but one which was
more wide1y used than all the others.
If we take into: account, all these: facts, it is not possible to
understand how African leaders use the linguistic diversity of
their respective countries to justify their lack of revolutionary
initiative against the maintenance of.their linguistic dependence'
upon Western Europe. AlI African .countries do not have an
identical linguistic situation; the diversityof languages differs
from country to country in this, ,that the languages of a
country May or May not, belong to the same language family;
the sizes vary from language to language; and equally
from country to country; countries have languages which
are. Dlore dynamic. than others, tliat is,' which spread faster
than ,others. There are even countries which have the privilege
of nc;>t having a diverSity of languages. .
Solutions to the problem of multilinguallsm in Africa must
be found at two levels; a national'level and an international
or mter-Afrlcan level. Each country is free to adopt for
national internal. use monolingualism or '. multilingualism, one
or the other centred on the use of one or several African
languages exclusively.
AlI African countries must collaborate with the aim . of
raising some African languages' to the level of inter-African
and international languages which would be used as a me ans
of communication among. thesecountries.
National Level
in every African country with language . diversity, there is
a smaller number of main languages which are often known
34
Up to now nobody' has set up a direct relationship between
the language policy of these countries and the delay which any
of these countries might have faced in the intellectual, cultural
and ev:en economic field.
According to Peter Hornby, (Bilingualism: An Introduction
and Over-View), "For a,large percentage of people in the
world, speaking more than one language is a type of nafural
life, with a variety of factors which de termine which language
will be used on a given occasion. Most European nations are
bilingual or even multilingual, having two or more ethnic
grcups speaking different languages." It is paradoxical that
Afdcan countries which are faced with the same problem of
language diversity adopt a monolingual system of education,
and on top of that, one which is centred on non-African
lan gu ages , whereas the bilingual ~ y s t m Qf education is used in
cOlmtries as different as India, the U.S.S.R.and the U.S.A.
4
ln India, which has more thau 150 different languages,
official instruction is carried out in 14 languages and the
pupils can choose between 3 languages of instruction in '()ne'
primary school. It is not a sign of being progressive to want to
impose upon one's country a foreign language as the unique
of:ficiallanguage. Information published in number 2 of October
1978 of The Linguistic Reporter reveals that the number of
countries which are recognizing two or more official languages
is on the increase. Thus cultural and linguistic diversity is not
in itself fundamentally an evil. It can be a permanent source of
inventiveness, innovation, intellectual and artistic creativity
fo'r national development.
Among the monolingual states, let us see aIso how some of.
them achieved their linguistic unity from an originally multi-
linguistic situation. At a certain period three languages were
sp oken in France; Latin, Breton, and Francien. Linguistic
unification took place around Francien, which was aIready
more widely used than Breton, and which was preferred to
Latin, a foreign language, highly developed and international
but which had no popular foot-hold.
At the setting up of the state of Israel, the firstimmigrants
were, according to the country they were coming from, made
up of seyeral linguistic groups which in most cases spoke the
4. See ''the Bilingual Education Act" USA Public Law 95-561.
33
use of our under-developed and non-international languages
would delay us before we can enjoy the advantages of European
civilization; and yet nobody can quote examples where the
economic or scientific backwardness of a country is caused by
the use in that country of an under-dev,eloped and non-
international language
. We must avoid copying others stupidly and must be patient
in our own initiatives, because, aS Presence Africain No. i09
(p. 8-10) puts it:
"If the development of the latter (European societies) were
purely and simply technical, this would not be enough
and would risk becoming harmful to us. The modernity of
these is not our modemity . . . . Our modernity
will 'be the work o( the talents and abilities developed
from our past and through our historical struggles and trials ...
Therefore this can only be a long term enterprise spanning
several generations. . . During the early centuries of
European history, the monks and pioneers of thought, art
,and science bullt the foundations of present-day Western
, civilization."
3., The Handicap of Language Multiplicity
Our last reply concems the multiplicity of languages in
aImost each country of our continnt. The language multipli-
city iit' an African country is misinterpreted and conceived as
an evil to which the only solution is the block rejection of
these languages in favour of European It is perhaps
forgotten that is not limited to African coun-
tries.' It also touches sorne highly developed countries of Europe
which should offer examples of how to solve the problem.
Switzerland, small as it is, has got four official languages,
Belgium has got at least two, Canada has got two, Tchecoslo-
vakia is officially multilingual, the Soviet Union has got about
a hundred working languages within its frontiers; Spain is in
the. pro cess of recognizing a new official language; Yugoslavia
is multilingual. It is due to the desire ofmaking -the laws and
rights of the country accessible to everybody that the states
of multiple cultural and linguistic composition have made
their original multilingualism an official policy.
32
teach our languages in their countries, but these powers
contribute effectively to the development of our languages
whe:n they use them in their short-wave broadcasting networks
and in their press, even if it is for their propaganda purposes.
On the other hand France, much more concemed about the
assimilation of her colonies, has always worked to make the se
forgotten by never using them on her radio and her
French radio is unique in the world: it is never heard
USillg an African language. It is also said that it was out of fear
that English might replace French as the J;Ilost important
wo:rking language in the meetings-of the European Community
that France opposed, for so long, the entry of Britain into
that Community.
'We May wonder at times if we maintain the use of Euro-
pean languages in our administration to satisfy the few
fOIeigners who are working in Afrlca. And yet we have never
seen foreigners run out of their adopted country becausc of a
change in languge policy. The Europeans came to settle in
Afeica to pursue other interests more important than the
of their languages. They did not go when Africa
snatched from them political power; even after snatching from
our linguistic independence, thqr will still have solid
to stay, namely their economic interests. It is true
however, that some of them are paid by. their of
ori.gin to safeguard their linguistic influence in Africa, and to
di!icourage . us from developing African languages by methods
which we think best.
The Europeans are curiously unanimous in advising against
the use of any African language, and in proposing in its place
any European language, whereas in itself the Flemish
th.e French and the English do not agree in determining the
official language of the Common Market meetings. \
They might advise us against Russian for fear of communism.
But 1 think it would be useless here to accuse cultural and
lillguistic imperialism of Europe, for it seems that we look for
and beg for pus type of imperialism not to be withdrawn.
it is withdrawn, we follow it up to Europe; the best
llnong us send our children to study at the European source.
Attracted by material achievements and the econoInic
development of Europ'e, we are tempted to believe that the
31
Iike ours, were once under colonial domination, the .learnhlg of
languages is taken as that of a second language, that is
to say, as a subject and bot as an obligatory medium. of
instruction. In any case, the learning of a foreign language,
when it is part of the general ordinary syllabus, is .not .done
at the of the other subjects on the syllabus. However,
when an urgent need is felt, very often steps are taken, and
very .effectively, to organize
1
intensive courses in a foreign
language intended for a given category of people,often beyond
the level of secondaryschool. education. The intensivemethod
is very econQmicai and very effective, it enables. one to learn
a in a very short time, ranging from 6 months to. one
year. In most countries, it is the most widely used method for
preparing civil servants in the minis tries of, Joreign affairs,
whose work is precisely to deal with the outside world. Thus
courses in foreign languages can .. be reserved forstudents of
diplomacy who an use them immediately than the others.
Let us say, by. the. way, that this: is .the reason why some
countries, th' .school of foreign belongs to: the
ministry of foreign affairs .
. . But if we admit that Many Africail researchers need to DOW
one or two foreign languages, it is important to note that
these post-secondary school researchers can learn these langua-
ges intensively during the short period which preceeds thit
specialization. 1 t is not everybody whois go mg to be a resar-
cher or a diplomat; this is why the' attention o.f the whole
school population must not be attracted towards the learning
. of. a so called In -tact, a country which
has got Multilateral relations with various countries must have
a program of teaching as many 'as possible:' lt: is
certainly bad' to concentrte the energy of an entire people on
the learning of only one foreign language, at the risk of seeing
this whole population tUm its mind towards the outside wotId
where it would place ail its hopes; as if nothing 'good cancome
from home. A change of attitude towards African lan-
guages is They are officially ignored in. our administra-
tive and systems, whereas countries whose languages
are international and high)y developed, like the USA and the
SovietUnioJ}. are havmg the se ,languages taught in their: insti-
tutions of higher learning . Not oruy do certain foreign powers
30
has acquired for itself in the eyes of other nations in various
fic:lds, as for example in politics, military art, economics;
science etc. It is the exemplary achievements which we shall
hnve made in our languages which .will give these languages
aIl international status. The international aspect of a language,
bl!cause it follows the destiny of a people, is not permanent.
Greek was international at the time of the Greek empire;
Latin which replaced it has been a dead language for centuries,
since the fall of the Roman empire; after having been main-
as a learned language for the elite of western Europe it,
in the end, gave way to the local popular dialects of 16th
cc!ntury Europe. It is French and El1glish resulting from. these
V1!ry vulgar languages of the 16th century which are to-day
ctJnsidered as eternal and which are being proposed to replace
our languages. It is the particular histoty of a people which also
e'Kplains partly the international status of its language, according
tl) the following quotationin Edit. P . Horney,
(p. 103) ''The great world languages of today are languages of
empires, present or pasto Qnly two, Mandarin Chinese, and
Russian, continue as administrative languages within a same
state with diverse ethnolonguistic composition. The others:
Arabic, English, ,French, are im'perial heritages which
survived the disintegration' of the empires which promoted
tnem".
We ,should distinguish between knowing an international
language as 'a second language and making an international
language the internal official Iworking language of the whole
population at the expense of the native langugaes of that
population. Even if English is the, most international language
i.t must be remarked that it is learnt by the majority of its
:;peakers ail over the world as a second language. This means
ithat the majority of people who speak an intemationallanguage
Imow at least two languages of which the native or national
:language is the first.
The need to estahlish relationships with other countries of
the world being real for each country, all countries effectively
,learn the languages of others. It would not be realistic nor
useful to refuse African countries the possibility of being able
to communicate with the outside world. But, except in, black
Africa, in allother countries, including those in Asia which,
29
Our languages are underdeveloped in scientific and technical
expression because they have not been used in these fields. On
the other hand languages Iike Japanese, Hebrew, Korean,
Chinese, Vietnamese, Indonesian, are very much advanced
to-day because they are used in all fields, although they were
considered primitive by the west sorne time ago.
As for European languages, their development is Iinked up
with othe technieal and scientific progress pnd with their use
which has never ceased in any field; and yet, compared to the
quantity, and quality of the degree of their present . develop-
ment, the European peoples and languages were primitive
less th an 300 years ago. Linguistic development can only follow
the general development of a people on condition that the
language of this 'people is used generally. General development
does not result from linguistic development. There aresome
very backward European countries whose languages are amorig
the most developed in the worId.
. It is in fact our situation of being mentally colonized which
makes us stIDuse the argument of 'underdevelopment' which
by its very nature slows down the development concerned. It
is in . this way ,that Arabie is considered developed enough and
is used officially ,in the Middle East couiltries which were not
really coloniz.ed byEurope, whereas the Arah countries of
North Africa.'whieh underwent real western colonization think
that their Arabic is not developed enough to be used for
higher education. Thus, 'linguistic underdevelopment can he
historically and poIitically motivated.
2. . The Fact of Not Being International
Apart from . the accusation which is made against African
languages of being underdeveloped, people oppose th r o p o ~ l
of J1laking them official languages of our states because they
are not international or languages used in diplomacy. It is
arguedthatAfricans should know languages which enable'
them to enter into contact with the outside world. This
appears to be a very serious argument but distinctions must be
made.
The international or diplomatie aspect' of a language is
not intrinsic to a particular language. A language acquires it
due to the prestige which the nation speaking that language
28
new techniques by me ans of translation of Joreign languages
the local A.frj!=an languages?
, The answer to ,all tltese. questions is that if we reaJly want to
African languages effectively, we must not envisage
the development in terms of necessary conditions to their
fu ture use as working languages.
3
!
the in way means that we fix our-
selves a date can only be arbitrary, because there are
no sure criteria permiting us to fix the moment when a
language can be c9nsidered to have attained its developmen t.
It. is true that a language never stops modifying, adapting
itself, and: developing. Its study, learning,and the that
can be done on it have no end. Europeans still continue to
s1.udy their languages; they will continue indefinitely to do
leamed research on them and to make them more and, more
uptodate.
It is almost impossible to imagine that our children" who
tc>day are being educated exclusively in foreign' languages,
a:nd, who will know and like African languages less and less
will,be able in 20 years' to decide in favour of retu'rning to
our languages. Supposing that we fix' oursefves a limit of
about 20 years, at' the end of which these languages will be
developed. It follows, that it is our present' generation which
Dlust take. upthe responsibility 'by introducing from.:now the
\lLSe of our languages in the' various fields where they must be
.eveloped. The, development of our languages in the scientific
field, for example, depends ontheir practical confrontation
with the sciences at the moment of the work of translation and
a.ctive teaching. About translation, it must be' said by the way,
that ,on top of the interest as a means of linguistic develop-
Inent, 'it is an activity like the job of interpretation which
provide.' for many youqg in ,Africa. The
development of language, if it cannot be conceived indepe-
Ildently of the practice andconcrete action, is finally the result
of the use people make of it.
3. "The fact that decision about reform are put off until such 'reliable' data are
available is om; proof of basic unwillingness forreform, i.e., the lack of politica1
, will." ' ' , ,
by, SkutnabbKangas p. 19
27
dominant' ecoIomic minority ,which has become rich by econo
mically exploiting the majority of the people'who are dominated'
both politicaIly, socially and cultutally. This' must be the case
in.a country, which is not entirely independent.
! The poverty or underdevelopment ,of African languages' is
quite 'voluntary. Theselanguages 'are poor because' we do not
want toenrich them, by not, wanting to use them in certain
fields, such 'as education, translation, which are all' factors of
language 'enrlchment and development; The I,,;dex Transla-
tionum . 'pub lished , annualy ,by . UNESCO that out of
total ,of about ,40,000 books translated every year, almost none
is 'translated .'nto 'an African language. On the other hand;
German', Spalsh; J apanese', English, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish,
Hebrew; and" 'the' USSR langUages come on top of the: list ' of
languages used in translation of books which have appeared in
... '
It depnds ,upon our free will th develop arid' enrich bur
languages by means 'of ;Jnstead of dropping our
languages in favour of European languages in the vain hope of
mkirig up' fbr 'our scientific andecoriomic lateness, .we 'should
mak s'cince' rid world' tedinology' 'assriilated, into ., our
langclags; of"origin. Our"AfIicari1anguages also'must and can
aSsimilate 'sCience and adapt' themseI':.es 'ta modem ,life as
Japanese and: lChiriese;have done" The :west not yet 'comple-
tely assimilated us, our languages have' the possibility of assirrii-
lating science, which is the pride of Europe. ,
It is apparritly; the Of(,uI' which
forces us ,00' continue, using. foreign' lariguages,-alreaay, developed,
countries out of-underdevelopment.:In this
tion- 1 :wouldj like ,to recall what l' have :a1readysaid above, and
that-,is,' , we cannot, get a nation out of.7its underdevelopment
unIess ,all':tlie' ,people of that nation participatein the work of
development. 'And' so, if, we" acept ta make all; the people
in " th, effort of the! rapid. construction, of the
nation;
1
must all the se 'people 'first of aIl concenti'ate -'on the
learning' of 'a .foreign : language intended to' be th' offidal
language lof, the 'nation? 'Would it not be more ffective
rapid' in 'tiairiiilg' our projected' progress if mstad' 6ffirst
leaming' ;a . foreign languag, so as later tb learn the' techniques
expressed in that language, p'epl learnt; straight away'these
26
(b) . The use of African languages in courts saves the citizens
frolD the great risk of being misunderstoodor being poorly
defended, and, consequently, from being misjudged and being
unjustly condemned, if they are forced to use a foreign anguage.
( c) What is true in the field of justice also applies to the
medical and health . field. A person may die because he or she
did not know how to describe his or her disease in a foreign
language. It is surely more humane for the doctor to know the
language of his patients than to compel the patients to know
t h c ~ doctor's language before they can have a right to treatment.
The doctor must offer his good services without wanting to
impose his language, like a teacher who wants to pass on his
knowledge teaches in the language of his puplls instead of
delnanding of the pupils in advance to know his own language.
F ALSE PRETEXTS BASED ON LINGUISTIC UNDER-
I>EVELOPMENT, INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE AND
MULTILINGUALISM
After having proposed up to now that African languages be
m.ide working languages in all fields, that is to say, that'these
languages be made the official languages of the. internai life of
our states, let us now try to reply to the objections that are
very often formulated to prove that our languages are not
appropriate to fulfll this role.
1. Scientific underdevelopment ofAfrican Languages
. It is said that African languages are underdeveloped, and il
. is true; it is also true that they are developable. But what has
bc:en done to develop them? Alm:ost nothing. But when it is
said that our economies are underdeveldped, we mobilise all
our energies to work out projects, short term and long term
d,:velopmentplans; we do not hesitate to invest at great risk.
The same seriousness should be shown in' fields other than the
ec:onomic one, that is to say that we should be eager to develop
our languages, unIess we want to give the impression that it is
not worth the effort. Economic progress necessarily goes hand
in hand with the progress achieved in other fields. Is it possible
te> imagine a country which might be economically very
advanced and remains underdeveloped in ail the rest? It is a
25
following year. Thus a language which is used in the final year
of the primary school would be developed enough to .be used in
the first year of the secondary school.
From year to year in the secondary school, that language
can be used and developed. up to the final year. If technical
difficulties 'can be solved tbis way from year to year, we see
no pedagogie reason which would prevent the use, in higher
education and at university, of language which we shall have
developed by practical use at secondary school level, unless
higher education only te aches new subjects which will not
have been met at any previous level of teaching. But the sub-
jects are generally 'the same at the secondary and the higher
level of education. This method of introducing African laligu-
ages in education year by year up to the highest level, implies
that the current system wiU' only he progressively elirninated,
allowing in this way, . those who will have hegun their studies
in one system to complete them' in the same system. The
making of school text books which is done year by yeai' can he
done ayear or two in advance before the implementation of the
new system. We do not support reforms which prescrihe the use
of African languages in some classes and up to a certain level,
heyond which foreign their privileges.
Such a limitation can only be arbitrary, and .implies that we
want to develop, promote, our languages only to
a certain extent.
9. Practical Reasons for Polit.ical Effectiveness, Justice and
Vital 'SUrvivaI of the Use of the Local National Languages
(a) lf a government wishes its decisions and laws to be
immediately understood and canied out by aIl its citizens,
government and administration must be' carried out in the usual
languages of the citizens. The govemment must adopt as
working language one or severallanguages of 'state. To do the
contrary by conditioning the people's participation in the
political affairs by their forced learning of a foreign colonial
language, maintained as an official administrative ,language,
puts in doubt the independence of these people. In the name of
what principle can citizens he forced,to know a foreign language
,inorder to haveaccess, to education and work in their own
mdependent country?
24
for the .rurl exodus. Foreign European lariguages . being the
means of communication, the tools or the working languages
of the large towns, the educa:ted population, formed entirely
in these langt,lages, is qui te to that they are trained
to work in towns. And 'if they forced themselves to return to
aner stay in villages, they would find ot tha.t the working
of ,Vinage is not. the' 'one they learnt at
In order that school should. not be cause of separation
bel:ween the pupiI .and .his environment, that is to say, in order
not to pro duce misfits, the teachll.tg must be done, as much as
possible, in .. the same language as that of the home, the language
of the s,treet, the language of. the play-ground or of the places
ofwork. ,
, This makes room for the exchange of ideas and activities
between the old and the young generations on one.hand ru:td, on
thl= other hand, it allows, , the free circulation of knowledge
and people between. the villages and the towns. It 1s in this
wny. ,that school ceases' to be an institution. foreign to its owp
environment, and parents . can,. without any complex, visit
the school and inquire about the progress of their children.
To fight effectively, against unemployment in towns which
re!luIts from the rural exodus of the youths, these youths
sh.:)uId in princip le betaught up ta: the end of thesecondary
school, in relation to rural life and development, in such a
WLy that if they cannot continue with their higher studies,
they can fmd il suitable place in the village, and play a useful
role in the rural environinent. . .
Method, of Progressively . African Languages
as Media of Primary School to
The introduction of African, languages as media of instruction
must be radical, that is: to say, that it must aim at reaching the
wversity, instead. of stoppmg at the lower or middle levels.
We' are convinced that African languages can be used in higher
education if they are introduced progressively year:by year. The
language used and developed in the flI'St year of the primary
school can he used the following year.,in the second year of the
pdmary scl:tool, and he in the meantime for \Ise in the
third year. A language used in one year develops during that
yc!ar so as to he 'used as a convenient medium 'of instruction the
23,
language in the society where a given individual lives. And yet
no-one can foretell the day when African languages will all be
dead . to give way to a perfect use of European languages by
Africans.
African languages seem to be keeping alive by themselves;
and there is no poison to eliminate them,. except the poison
which can eliminate the very speakers of these languages. On
the other hand, if we do not wish the slow death of our langua-
ges, a sure way to guarantee their survival among future genera-
tions, is to give them a place in theeducational system. The
present system of education which does not take into account
African languages will soon show us Africans who will not speak
African languages, especially since some parents refuse the
speaking of these languages before their children, precisely to
give these. children a chance to master the European languages
2

Persistance of linguistic habits and their consequences are very
lasting and they easily go beyond centuries and continents, as is
shown by' llie:West Indian creoles which have their origins in
African of the slaves who were forced to speak
European languages.
7. Urban Unemployment
To the advantages already mentioned we should add the fact
that education in. African languages favours rural life and
development, contrary to education in foreign languages which
provokes rural exodus of the youths towards the towns and to
unemployment.
If a very large fraction our populations lives in the country-
side, where the working language is. the local language, it is only
normal that the instruction given to the se populations be given
in the local African languages. Learning in a language foreign to
ones' environment a1ways gives one the impression that the
knowledge being acquired is destined to be applied elsewhere,
namely in town. The. foreign nature of education is a1ready a
cause for uprooting or alienation because it a1ready prepares
2. 'COften there is a correlation between high competence in a
fomp language and high competence in the mother tongue. And, vice versa,
there is good reason to believe that children who cannot fuIly deve10p their
mother tongue have difficulties in leamiDgan L2 pmperly."
by SkutDabb-Kangas p. 15
22
This lack of mastery in any language causes these westernized
Africans who form the educated and ruling elite to lack self-
confidence and personality. This reflects itself negatively on the
spirit of initiative, of innovation and on quantitative and quali-
tative productivity, both on the individu al and collective level.
The substitution of African languages by European languages
deprives the African peoples of. their self confidence and distin-
ctive originality, that is, their authenticity. Th preservation
and development of an African personality is inconceivable
outside the promotion of African languages by which so Many
values and traditions are preserved and expressed.
1
In fact if
Africans Iiterate fi European languages do. nQt beaome perfect
speakers of the se languages, while they progressively lose mas-
tery in their native languages, it is because of the persistence of
the influence that a mother language exercises over a second
one. As one is half way between the two linguistic systems one
can express oneself only in a Mediocre way and especiaIly in any
a.ctivity of a literary nature; this is the cause of this awkward
c:omplex of inferiority, another cause of mental, intellectuaI
~ L l d scientific under-development.
The fact that there will soon be Africans who will not be
using a single African language will not ncessariIy Mean that
the knowledge and the use of European languages will be better.
The result is an intermediate situation, a bastard situation,
where European languages areused with much interference
:from the African languages. A foreign language, by becoming a
:rnedium of instruction will be only perfectIy known and used
when it becomes the language of everybody in aIl extra-
curricula stituations, that is ta say, the markets, the streets
and the homes.
6. Difficulty ofperfect assimilation of foreign languages and of
the annihllation of the present native languages
The fIist Iinguistic habits tha1; one acquires are so difficult
to destroy that perfection in a foreign language can only be
approximately reached after the complete death of the mother
1. "Transmitting cultural tradition in a foreign language is always much more
difficult, if not completely impossible." ..
Skutnabb-Kangas p. 5
21
It is because of the present system of education run exclusi-
vely in European languages that it is impossible to conceive that
an African, who might be weil versed in certain African langua-
ges, but who does not know a European language, can have any
education at ail and be considered intelligent. Where might
such a person have received his education? If he daims to be a
good mechanic, in which professional school did he get his
training? ln such a system it is the knowledge of foreign
languages wich becomes the criterion for assessing the intellec-
tuai and professional capability of someone. 1 see no reason
why this criterion which is accepted nowhere else 'must be
applicable in Africa. Thus, our languages are raised in status
and' their speakers are more respected if they are part of modem
education. We must stop perpetuating this syllogism: 'He speaks
only African languages, therefore he is ignorant.' In fact we
must prove to the world that we can form engineers and doctors
who cannot speak a Europeari language. This is the case in the
Far East. It is a glorious challenge.
l ,
The attituqe of the, Tanzanians in this case is very encourag-
ing, to Kavugha in an article yet to appear:
'At the moment of independence Kiswahili was the means of
communication beyond tribal barriers. Any person who' could
not was considered by, other members of the
'as a persop withoui ,'much and whose
chanc'es of ajob were very limited.' .
5. of Afrlcan Authenticity
Even if itis easierto enjoy what others have done, we should
not despise originality saying: what use is it for us to tire
ourselyes trying to think out something new, since Europe is
4eveloped in ait fields which satisfy our tastes? The future
generation, which will be the only judges of the originality of
the type of society we shaIl have passed to them, should not he
made to helieve that we were afraid to make ourselves a history
different from the model which was left to us hy colonization.
We. should not Jorget either the fact which is often noted that
Africans who are educated ,very early in European languages
never completely. master either the European working language
or their, native language of which they possess only rudimentary
oral knowledge.
20
group in fact the majority, only knows the national' African
larlguages, which decision, give it no right of
aceess to useful and valuable education, and consequently
condemns it to remaJn always an ignorant class, dominated
and with an inferiority complexe
It is this perpendicular system of education that Peter Ena-
hOlro condemned in an article of the monthly New African,
when, speaking of th 'Evil We Don't Know', he compares
th,e British and the French colonial systems, saying: ''Whereas
the British had set up a horizontal System of education, which
proportionally brought education to more of their subjects
than in the French colonies, the perpendicular system of
France had offered the best education to comparatively few
people, thus giving Frlnce the reputation of having offered
the Africans an excellent and better education."
4. Promotion of the Languages themse1ves
Another good reason for making African languages the
Dledium of instruction is the promotion of these languages that
our leaden never stop singing. Almost everywhere they believe
that they are promoting an African language from the very
Dloment an hour or two is accorded to broadcasting in such
a language late in the evening. '
Assuming that this is enough, it seems logical that the use of
.African languages on radio and television, in music, drama and
tlte cinema, must be shnultaneous with, if not preceded by, the
teaching of these languages in the schools, even if it be only to
train radio-television announcers, and musicians and actors, in
iJlowing how to read weB their texts written in African langu-
ages.
When Brazaville introduced Lingala on the radio and it was
lealized that no-one knew how towrite and read news in
Lingala, because the teaching was done exclusively in French
in the Congo, it was decided to call upon the Congolese who
had done their studies in Kinshasha, because in Zare African
languages were taught during the colonial era. In fact, since
Jnodem life is based on writing and reading, between two
languages the one which is written is more respected than the
.lne which is Dot written. It is not possible to promote a
l.anguage or to give it prestige if it is Dot made an indispensable
instrument of learning, or if it is limited only to oral use.
19
1. Effectiveness
In the first place, the effectiveness and the very success of
teaching demands the use of a known African language rather
than a European language which is yet to be learnt. The best
assimilation of the subjects taught is done through a language
aIready mown.
2. Psychological R.eason
A' psychological reason connected with the previous one is
that the most favourable means to estabIish good relations
between the teacher and the pupils from the very first day of
schooling is a common language which is th mother language
of the child. The medium of instruction must be free from
any ass,ociation with domination. It is because of refusing to
accept the "language of the dominating Afrikaaners as an obli-
gatory medium of secondary school education that hundreds
of black youths died in Soweto btween 1976 and 1977 shot
by,:the South African police. (accor.ding to J. Zigler: p. 10).
S. The Right to Education
Besides, the use of African national or native languages
is the 'ooly gurantee of the equality of access to education for
everyone. With the present system of education based on
European languages, there is ooly a certain social class of
children who are admitted and can be successful in the schools.
The gap between the bad and good pupils in French or English
is ooly beoming greater.
, And the weight accorded to the success in a foreign language
is such" that fallures recorded in other subjects, even scientific
ones, are considered to be without "A pupil who
might pass chemistty if the exam. were to be set in atl African
language,. will never be admitted into a class of higher
education, because he falled French. Thus our. system of testing
the knowledge acquired favours those 'who are gifted in foreign
languages and literatures. And yet this is only a small branch
of the activities of a nation. The danger that should be avoided
here is . to '"perpetuate division in the population into two
national groups, a linguistic" division which has been based on
the fact that one group knows better the colonial language, has
got access to an education considered better, whereas the other
18
naturaIly known language than to assimilate it in a language
which is itself not yet quite weIl mastered. It appears that it is
th.lse ,countries which chose to translate and popularize foreign
te.:hniques in their lnguages which are actuaIly catching up
andeven overtaking European countries.
Let us think of China and J apan whose independence mea-
sures up to their linguistie independence. A job can only be weIl
done and be economieaIly rewarding if it is done in the language
of the worker.
6. The Misuse of the African Radio and Television
African broadcasting statiQns are unfairly monopolized by
E1JrOpean ex<:ept in a few like Tanzania,
Somalia, and Ethiopia. In Ethiopia the prestige ofAmharic is
greater than that of any other officially recognized national
language, precisely because of the radio whieh accords it 5
h ours of broadcasting per day, whereas English, which is the
second official language gets only one and half hours, French and
Arabie each gets one hour, . and the 5 other African languages
used to share out the remaining 8 hours, out of a total of 16
hours 30 minutes of broadcasting everyday, (Ref. The
Ethiopian Herald).We are not opposed to the use of any
European language, but our lirtguistic independence can only
be achieved if our languages are given priority over foreign
l:mguages in all fields.
l'IELDS AND ADVANTAGES OF THE POSITIVE FIGHT
F'OR LINGUISTIC INDEPENDENCE: TEACHING AND ITS
REASONS
After considering the weight whieh European languages have
in aIl the fields of activity in African countries as obligatory
working languages, we want now to suggest remedies to reduce
our linguistic dependence on Europe" a dependence whieh is
JDOre of an evil than a goodheritage from the colonial era. Our
l.ong-term fmal goal to pursue will be to render African langua-
ges the languages of work in aIl fields of national activity. As .
:>ur linguistic dependence on Europe starts at school" and as
:most jobs are learnt there, African languages must be the
working languages in schools, that is to say the medium of
instruction.
17
population "in an' African country learn how to read and
consume a literature written exclusively in English or French.
5. Lack of Knowledge Popularization
If 'scientific popularization and technical assimilation of
all types plays a role in the economic development of a nation,
we can say that economic development is also linked up with
the language used as a vehicle of transmission, of knowledge.
A developed country is a where the majority of the
population makes the country progress, each one in his own
field of activity'. We do not speak of countries where there
mlght be aD economiccly An under-
developed country is a country where the majority of the
pqpulation does not participate, in the national progress, even
if 'one finds there a miriority,which enjoys the riches 'and the
weIl being to the same degree as in the MOSt developed
countries of the world.
We have abundant man-power, lacking only the know-how
which it ,would acquire if the techniques were transmitted to it
in a it knows. If we want a rapid participationby the
people in a country's development, we must popularize the
techniques. The ignorance of our populations is a cause of our '
backwardness in the technical and economic fields.
The way to technical knowledge which eliminates ignorance
is barred to our' populations by the nature of the linguistic
means used to transmit this knowledge.
With the elimination of ignorance in view, the knowledge
necessary 'for development should be transmitted by easy and
rapid means, that is to say, by languges already weIl known
by 'the masses, instead of struggling to make the learning of
foreign languages a pre-requisite to the right of knowledge.
It is only by changing,the means of transmitting knowledge,
by adopting the- MOSt common and Most popular means, by
popularization, that our economic and technical dependence on
Europe can Most . rapidly be rduced. The' popularization of
techniques can be done immediately in African languages with
the help of the small number of leamed Africans now who still
know their languages. In fact we have to' say it again that
science 'and technology are translatable. It is easier for the
population to assimilate: what istransmitted to them in a
16
English or Russian badly, or not to speak French at all? An
Italian should be rather ashamed of not knowing Italian than
Turkish.
The whole educationaI system is mistaken with the learning
of a foreign vernacular. Now, according to B. Verhaegen, an
education based on foreign languages only converts
potential rural workers into real unemployed city dwellers.
4. Set-backs in the production of Books and Newspapers
As a result of what has just been said, let us mention the
nllportation of culture and all its instruments, such as books,
newspapers, cinematographic fms, records etc. We have in this
particular case the so-called literary culture, which is the most
form for uprooting and deforming the minds of
p(:ople and of nations; it is directed, as a matter of fact to
what is immaterial in man.
Because we are still learning the foreign languages in which
our books are written, we are' not yet in a position to write our
own books in these languages. And so long as we are still
reading these foreign books, so many as they are, so good and
beautiful, we shall have no need of writing our own. Even
if today we speak of African books in European languages, here
we are taIking of books which have received approval from
European academ,ies which have their headquarters in Europe
a:nd having representatives among us in Africa. In most countries,
book publication is an economic activity which contributes to
the development of the country. In Africa, book production,
if it exists, depends, squarely on Europe, and this is because
c.f the languages used in these books.
But it is aIso said that an independent book industry would
Ilot be paying in Africa' at the present moment. This is true,
because the number of copies produced per edition is too
small, because of the very, small number of readers to whom
1hese bookS are addressed; even the production of the so-
c:alled big da:ily newsp ap ers of the African capitals does not
c:xceed 50,000 copies in those cities of more than a million
inhabitants. The languages used by the edit ors of the books
:md newspapers is a handicap for these editors who are forced
'to sell liitle so long as they publish in languages known by a
lninority elite. It Will take .centuries the majority of the
15.
all this being economic exploitation. Thus from the very
beginniRg, our forced leaming of European languages was not
a blessing, but an enslavement, a sign of our dependence. Is
it true that our accession to political independence transformed
the evils of the colonial linguistic policy into a blessing? On
the contrary, African countries which are politically indepe-
ndent and which are determined to get out of their state of
under-development, see their problems increasing day after
day, because they neglected to question the linguistic policy
inherited from the colonial era. The holders of colonial
political power have been over-thrown; people are starting
to question the economic structures, and at times even the
economic system itself; it .appears paradoxical that the linguistic
policy should be the only field which must not be revised
because perhaps in this field the colonial masters May have
done . only good. To the typically administrative slow pace
against which people complain, Africans, govemed by
means of. 'foreign languages, must rightfully add the linguistic
barriers which separate them from their governments.
3. Lack of a Typically National Education
To have access even to primary education one must know
a Europen language, a language foreign to aImost all African
children of school going age, children who in their homes and
in the streets speak an African native language. In this way,
education . and learning whichare absolute righ.ts are conditioned
by the of a European languag. We have systems
of education which depend upon European languages. We are
all obliged in our respective countries to know a foreign
language to. get access to national education, .even in our .native
villages!. . . .
St"ill worse, the leaming of that foreign language which' one
has to pay for has priority over all the other subjects. AIl this
goes on as if we were emigrants, newly arrived, who would like
to make up 'for a lateness which might prejudice our rapid
naturalization or assimilation by the host country. One hears
sonie pur leaders saying: "1 would like all the c;hildren to
learn English right from,. the primary school so' that at the
they stop committing mistakes' in English which. are
a shame to our system of higher education". But .one could
answer back: Are J apanese scientists really' ashamed to speak
14
mind. It be faIse to say that Africans did, not make
discoveries because their languages were poor, or that certain
Africans are now making discoveries solely because they can
speak foreign languages. A language is a means of expression,
and it always has the mechanism which enables it to express
whatever the speaker wants it to express. If scientific know-
}{:dge has been conceived and leamt through a language, it
c.m aIways be interpreted and rendered into any other language.
Thus no language is really scientifically more privileged than
another.
For example, nuclear physics is perhaps a European inven-
tion, but one can aIso manufacture an atomic bomb in Chinese;
the J apanese did not perhaps invent electronics 'and the
transistor, but it is perhaps they who today produce the best
dectronic instruments.
,Those of us who are bilinguaI gain nothing out of our
to surpress our naturaI linguistic habits and to prolTiote
only the newly acquired linguistic habits which should in fact
be used only as provisional tools for enriching, developing,
md modifying our naturally acquired habits. The alienation
which results from the neglect of our mother languages for
the exclusive learning of new foreign languages by artificiaI
means is not an achievement in the scientific and technicaI
field.
On the contrary, the excessively long time we devote to
the financiaIly very learning of foreign languages,
which. are considered to be the condition to our learning of
science and technology subjects, does notliing but to delay
us longer in our effort to catch up in these
2. Linguistic Darriers in the Field of Administration
There is no privilege in being able ,to speak one language
rather than another. However, etiquette and good manners
demand that a foreigner makes an effort to use the same
language as bis hosto In conquered Africa, it is us the hosts
who were obliged to speak the language of the invaders. It
was a sign of authority on their and one of submission
on ours. It has neyer been said that it was impossible to govem
us in our languages. But it was aosolutely necessary, in the
interest of the colonizers, that the military or political conquest
be followed up by a .linguistic conquest, the inain purpose of
13
themselves to be politically independent. Nonnally one is
said to be dependent upon or protected by someone else
only in a field where one is defective or poor. Thus, for
instance, our lack of economic means makes us economically
dependenton Europe, but in the do main of languages, people
should only borrow the languages of others if it doesn't have its
own or if if'has emigrated to a foreigri country. .
Yet we have so Many languages in Africa. Paradoxically,
it is this linguistic diversity, this so-called scientifie under-
development and the lack of an international status for
African languages which are used as excuses by those in power,
both of the present day and those of the recent colonial past,
to maintain the domination of a linguistically westernized
minority over a population which in the majority speaks
African lallgllages. ,
The purpose ,of this paper is to point out the, harm and the
set-backs, of maintaining European languages as obgatory and
exclusive official lan811ages in Africa. 1 will try to bring out at
the same time the advantages of cultural, political and econo-
mic mdependence of the official, massive and generalized use of
the national African languages. And fmally 1 will refute the
three false pretexts mentioned ab ove , namely, scientific under-
development, the non-international nature, and the diversity
of our languages, which lead people to prefer European im-
ported languages to our languages.
1 SET BACKS IN OUR LINGUISTIC DEPENDENCE ON
EUROPE
1. Our Linguistic Alienation in othe Name of Science and
Technical Progress
If Africans, instead of consideriq,g that colonial languages
keep them in slavery which remams yet to be got rid of,
continue . to accord these languages an official status, it is
because they beeve, wrongly of courS!!, that these languages
give . them privileges, the most often. quoted ones being of a
scientific nature. It iswrong to believe that science and. tech-
nology are an appendage of European languages, It is not the
language which makes scientific discoveries, it isthe human
12
FAILURE IN THE OBLIGATORY USE OF EUROPEAN
LANGUAGES IN AFRICA'AND THE ADVANTAGS OF A
POUCY . OF LINGUISTIC INDEPENDENCE
by Kahombo Mateene
INTRODUCTION
1he Most obvious fact is that all African countries use Euro-
pean languages which are those of their former colonial
nlasters, in nearly all their official business, and almost to the
exclusion and to the detriment of their national' African
l;mguages . However, Arabic is' being niore more used as
the official language of government and the press in certain
Afro-Arab countries, such as' Libya and . Egypt. This
tendency of giving the \1ationallanguage the dominarit position
in administration wasadopted by Somalia when, a few years
2.g0j' she stopped treating Italian, English and Arabic the
official privileged languages, and imposed Somali as the prefer-
J'ed official language. " . . .
Among the multilingual Africari countries; Tanzariia seems
to be the only country which up to now has adopted a clear
policy aimed . at rendering the national language the only
official language of that country. ' . ' .
For the great majorlty of Afrlcan countries, African languages
are used onlytimidly on radio, almost never used as means of
transmitting knowledge at school or in the press. IJtsuch impor-
tant fields as these, countries, are maintaining the
privileged status which the foreign olonizing countries, the
countries ofWestem Europe, accotded to their languages in
Africa about a hundred 'years this way, African
countries obligatorily use foreign colonial languages in almost
ail the important where the national languages should
have full vent, or even 'the exclusive right f use. Thus we are
forced to admit that aIl African countries are today linguisti-
cally dependent on Western Europe from which they dclare
Il
FAILURE IN THE
CtBLIGATORY USE OF EUROPEAN
JLANGUAGES IN AFRICA AND
lrHE ADVANTAGES OF A POLICY
()F LINGUISTIC INDEPENDENCE
by Kahombo Mateene
9
are anything but modeste However, let it not be forgotten
that in trying to fulfil, both quantitatively as weIl as qualita-
tively, more of those tasks originally assigned to the Bureau,
it is mandatory for the Bureau to be adequately provided for
both in terms of human and financial res.ources. Since its
creation the Bureau has been' manned by only two linguists:
a Director and his Deputy. Although a third post, that of a
Linguistic Researcher was approved more than two years ago,
this post has not yet been substantively filled. A fourth post,
that of a Training Officer, to take change of our Many assign-
ments in the field of training teachers for African languages,
interpreters, etc, is being lobbied for. Coupled with the
provision of more staff: must be the provision of more funds
annually to enable the Bureau not only to continue carrying
out such assignments as those it has been engaged in hitherto,
but also to enable it to launch out into yet unexplored but
vital areas. This calls for more commitment not only on the
part of all member states u ~ on the part of all those who
cherish the- idea of a trullyindependent Afnca.
. .
8
5. Tasks Ahead
It is the intention of the Bureau to continue engaging in
ail the various activities it has hi,therto been engaged in. In
particular, the preparation and publication of more bilingual
manuals is envisaged in such major African languages as the
following: -
Arabic
Arabie
Arabic
Arabic
Amharic
Hausa
Bemba
Bambara
Yoruba
Kiswahili
Kinyarwanda
Amharic
Bambara
Hausa
Kiswahili
Kiswahili
KiswahUi
Kiswahili

Wolof
Pulaar
KiswahUi
The preparation and publication of these bilingual manuals
c:al1s for more close collaboration between individuals who are
c:onversant in both languages involved and are, therefore, in
2l position to shoulder the task of writing such manuals and
the Bureau. We appeal to such individuals wherever they are
to get in touch with us for more details on this. aspect.
The Bureau, still in the line of publications, hopes to reach
n satisfactory understanding with the Ministry of National
gducation of the Govemment of the Congo with a view of
j ointly publishing two Lingala text-books for use in primary
nchools in that country. It is hoped that the appearance of
these twO' particular books would encourage more member
.=ountries who, having indentified their priorities with regards
to the promotion of African languages within their structUres,
would not hesitate to turn to the Organisation for what-
ever support is available. More active collaboration, in ail spheres,
with those institutions actively engaged in the promotion
African languages is therefore envisaged.
If one compares the long list of wks originally assigned
to BIL at its creation, tasks which were enumerated in section
n above, and the list of concrete achievements 50 far made by
BIL, one cannot but conclude that the Bureau's achievements
7
language. This book also had an original print-run of 5000
copies which got sold out within less than one year.
Both the Lingala-Kiswahili and the Luganda-Kiswahili ma-
nuals have been re-edited and have been re-published in their
edition in 1979, due to their great demande
Still' in the line of publishing, the Bureau, With effect from
the beginning of 1979, started editing and publishing jointIy
with the International African Institute (lAI) the scholarly
journal African Languages/Langues Africaines. This journal
concentrates on the publication of materials relating to the
use of African languages in general as weIl 'as for educational,
administrative and international communication. It publishes
articles which present problems, experience and possible solu-
tions in a wide range of fields with attention being
focused on national language. policies, the socio-linguistic
contexts to which these policies relate, and the educational
and pedagogical implications of changes in such policies; the
planning and provision of teacher training published
literature, the orthography, standardization and. modemization
of African languages. A number of articles specifically commi ...
ssionedby the Bureau on the place, role and value of African
languages in Africa will appear in this Journal.
Recognizing the. need to make Africa sufficientIy aware or
. aboui devel,opments in African languages taking
place in our midsts, and conscious .of the great need to share
our and experiences, at all, levels, in a field our
past and present experiences are so similar,. ili,e Bureau has
tak(:n the initial steps in liaising with other. language and
linguistic centres in Memher During 1978-1979 liaison
visits to severa! such centres in Zambia,"Tanzania and Nigeria
were made by the Bureau's staff. These visits have proved
mutually benefitial to the Bureau and to the centres visited.
\vith its active participation in, many international
meetings, conferences and symposia every year, such activities
on the part of the Bureau are without doubt likely to lead to
a more reaIistic awareness and appreciation of Africa's linguis-
ticproblems which, in the majority of African cali
for a of current liJlguistic policies.,
6
3. Discussions Among Professional
The last group of activities of the Bureau, that of arranging
discussions between officiaIs and professionaIs active within
Mer.lber States in its areas of competence is intended to pro-
vide chances to ail those concemed to exchange views and leam
from each other's experiences. These discussions would aIso
affeord a unique opportunity to identifyareas where the Bureau
could contribute Most effectively and how best that could
be .:lone for the benefit of Member States. Such discussions if
pro:?erly organized and allowed to make recommendations for
future action, have come to be accepted as vital invisible in-
put:, into the development effort of Member States.
4. Achievements
The phenomenal task of breaking linguistic barriers among
Africans to pave the way for the ultimate linguistic unity of
the continent can be tackled practically through more wide-
spr,!ad encouragement of the knowledge and use of major
African languages. In this aspect, the Bureau has since 1975
been engaged in the preparation and publication of bilingual
manuals whose aim is to teach certain African languages
entirely through the medium of other African languages. The
use of only African languages ensures that these manuals are
accessible to the greatest number of African readers who,
otherwise quite often in order to leam another African language
through the printed word, have to acquire, in the first place
cOJnmanp of a non-African "langUage, since most published
material of this nature is available mostly in languages which
are foreign to Africa.
The Bureau's first publication along the above lines was
Yekola Kiswahili- ]ifunze Lingala whichappearedin 1975. This
particular publication aimed at facilitating the use of two
Inter-African languages, Kiswahili and Lingala, beyond their
initial borders. The original print-run of 5000 copies was
quickly sold out to Kiswahili speakers wanting to leam
LingaIa and vice versa.
The manual was followed in 1977 by
appearance of Yiga Kiswahili - ]ifunze Luganda which
W2L5 intended for Luganda speakers wanting to learn Kiswahili,
which at that time had been declared Uganda's national
5
will he used in OAU meetings, and that trade, commercial
and other contacts hetween Africans will thereby be facilitated.
The other functions contained in the first group, such as
the training of language teachers, of interpreters and trans-
lators, for the use in' indigenous languages, are all related to
the main objective of popularizing and developing indigenous
languages for national, regional and continental use.
2. Book Production
It is now accepted by almost all educators 'concemed with
Africa, that for its population size; and particularly its learning
inhabitants, Africa' requires a lot more books than are currently
produced in Africa.
The importation of books has mainly proved to be a stop-
gap measure, which is increasingly proving inadequate for
educational ;and development needs of Member States, and
which causes unavoidable drain on their scarce foreign currency
reserves.
Severa! :intemationa! meetings held on the issue have all
invariably ended up recommending that efforts should be
stepped-up to 1 lin duce indigenous writers andpublishers into
producing more books. of all types for Africa. The removal
of the perennial scarcity of cheap school books and of general
reading mate rials is one of the desirable prerequisites for
general education and of scientific and technica! education in
Arrica. This process would be accelerated by the availability
of tan increasing number. of indigenous authors to write books
for schools and for the general reading public in indigenous
and other languages.
. The increase of local authors, coupled with the rapid
expansion . of local book production facilities, would con tri-
bute substantially towards adequate availability of educational
and other books. Among the activities of the Bureau is the
sponsorship . and encouragement of the writing of ail kinds
of. books by Africans, especially in indigenous languages, and
the promotion of book-production, especially of educational
books. Since the supply of books of ail kinds would be
substantially increased by translating. books from other lan-
guages into languages or languages of wider usage,
the Inter-African Bureau of Languages also. encourages this
aspect of.book-production.
4
1. Popularization and Development of African Languages
Th.! place of indigenous languages in the day to day activities
of Member States is assured - indigenous are not
on1y a means of expression and communication for the
of Africans but also give a fuller and richer meaning
to cultural attributes for many people in Africa. The very. first
sUlnmit of the African Heads of State and Govemment in
19
'
53, at which the OAU was founded, hoped to popularize
mligenous languages by a resolution which called for "the
introduction, as soon as possible, of programmes in the. major
African languages in the Broadcasting Stations of the various
African States and the exchange of radio and television
programmes". Even at that time, it was recognized that the
multiplicity of African languages was both culturally advanta-
geous, and commercially and contactwise disadvantageous.
The latter creates what has come to be called the "language
barriers" amongst Africans. These had to be broken with
BIL spearheading the struggle to break language barriers
between Africans. Dy assisting the popularizing of indigenous
languages, the Bureau would be assisting Africans to commu-
more in languages which are African in origine
Several OAU resolutions have called on Member States not
only to give prominence in the cunicula to the practical
teaching of the mother tongue but to actively promote com-
mercial and inter-state transactions of all kinds. There is no
doubt that these activities would run more efficiently with
the presence ofcommon indigenous languages of communi-
ca tion. By assisting and encouraging the use of indigenous
lallguages for education al , commercial and inter-state trans-
actions, the Bureau would help to accelerate the elimination
of foreign languages from African communion. Thus, by
actively participating in the popularization and development
of indigenous languages, the Bureau would hasten the day
when only African languages would be used in' the OAU
meetings in accordance with the numerous ruIes of procedure
which stipulate that "The working languages of the Organization
and all its institutions shall be, possible, African languages."
If for nothing else, the reason for bringing existence of the
Irlter-African Bureau of Linguistics, is to work towards the
of this hope, that one day, only' African languages
(d) To undertake, sponsor or co-ordinate the training of
interpreters and translators, and conversion of these and
of other technical personnel such as Secretaries and Precis
Writers into using. indigenous languages. In the case of
Secretaries and Precis Writers, this May entail
the development of Stenographie shorthand for indigenous
languages;
(e) To undertake, sponsor or co-ordinate the training of
language teachers;
(f) To sponsor and encourage the writing' of books by
Africans, especially in indigenous languages;
(g) To undertake, enourage the translation of
text 'books and into indigenous languages
, or into languages widely usd in Africa; ,
(h) Toarrange for discussions amongst officials and pro-
fessional personnel engaged in the ,activities mentioned
,,' above within Member States, with a view to effecting
improvement in, or making more effective the services
offered to Member States by the Bureau.
As can be seen from the foregoing, the functions of BIL
can be put under three main groups of activities: .
(a) th popularization and development of indigenous'langua-
ges;
(b) the expansion of book-production for edus:ational and
.other,purposes;
(c) the bringing together of persans in the se fields for
with the aim of making the Bureau 's services ,
, to States more effective and useful.
1
m. Rationale .
1
AlI the three groups ,of activities of BIL mentioned above were
considered essential to the develol'ment needs of Member
States and to the strengthening of inter-African co-operation
and unity. Some of the salient features of th reasoning behind
this 'vie'W are presented in ,document SC/CULT/612.70 and are
outIined in 1-3 below. ' .
2
RE:PORT' ON THE FUNCTIONS AND ACTIVITIES OF THE
OAU INTER-AFllICAN BUREAU OF LANGUAGES
by John Kalema
1. Creation of BIL
The:: decision to set up the OAU Inter-African Bureau of Langua-
ges (BIL) was made -in 1966 by the Assembly of Heads of
State and Govemment who, in passing resolution (AH/DEC. 8,
1966) directed the installation in Uganda of BIL, then referred
to as the "Inter-African Committee of Linguistics." This
decision was, however, not fully implemented until the begin-
ning of 1973 when the Government of the Republic of Uganda
extended an inVitatiQn to the Director of BIL to come and
install the Bureau. The Bureau then started functioning in
KaJnpala in the same year.
D. Functions
Th.! scope of the activities of the Bureau as laid out in docu-
ment SC/CULT/6/2.70 which explains and justifies its establish-
ment are as follows:
(a) To undertake, sponsor or co-ordinate research and develop-
ment in indigenous African languages;
'(b) To undertake, sponsor or co-ordinate rsearch and develop-
ment in the best methodology of teaching indigenous
African languages, and to assist in the development of
appropriate teacher aids and equipment for this purpose.-
Should there be sufficient demand from Member States,
simllar activities may be undertaken in respect of desired

(c) To assist and encourage the use -of indigenous African
languages for educational, commercial and communication
purposes on a national, regional and continental level;
1
REPORT ON THE
. .
AND ACTIVITIES
THE O.A.U. INTER-AFRICAN
BUREAU OF LANGUAGES
by John Kalema
ix
similar to those they had in education and administration
during the colonial periode
Technical and economic develQpment, which is rightly the
priority objective of under-developed countries, is blocked by
a linguistic barrier which separates. the ruling minority from
the masses of the people.
It is evidC\Jlt that the majority of the population must be
made to contribute to the effort of development, and any
communication barrier must be destroyed in favour of the
. means of communication possessed by the majority of the peo-
ple. But the leaders, who are a minority continue having this
linguistic barrler eliminated in their favour, by spending enor-
mous. efforts on the teaching of colonial languages, which they
themselves have not yet quite weIl mastered.
Our aim is not to impose our point of view, but we wish
that Africanleaders realize that Africa is suffering from a
linguistic problem, and that they should open a debate about
it, instead of behaVing as if, by imposing upon their popu-
lations the obligatory use of a foreign c o l o ~ i l language, the
whole language question weredefmitively settled.
TheoreticaIly it do es not, however, appear that our leaders
would like to remove completely our cqltures and languages
from us. The proof is that these leaders have made and are
still making resolutions in favour of African languages at the
OAU and UNESCO. But unfortunately the se resolutions are
not implemented in our countries.
The concrete and realistic proposals contained in this
pamphlet should satisfy everyone, first of aIl the majority
African populations, who will see in it the means for them
to participate in the progresS of their respective countries using
thdr languages; and then, ~ e westernized elite who will see
in it a way of preserving theu colonial' linguistic :heritage.
Kahombo Mateene
states have been following since 1960. BIL has been given
the responsibility of promoting the practical use of African
within each state and between the member states of
the DAV. But very few states among them encourage the use
of African languages within their borders.
The foreign colonial languages are more favoured now than
they were before independence.
The idea of linguistic independence is in practice not
foll.owed by the very large majority of African leaders and
elite. Linguistic unification by means of an African language
within one country and among neighbouring countries is not
of the preoccupations of the African leaders either.
Whereas linguistic independence is a rejected idea, it is believed
tha t African linguistic unily will be better achieved through
foreign European Languages. Thus the attitude of the present
African leaders contrasts with that of those leaders who created
BIL.
Since it was set up in 1973, this Bureau has not been
developing; the personnel and the operational budget have been
kept at their minimal amountof 1973. The Bureau has got
on]y two linguists who have to deal with all the African
states whose total number of active languages is no less than
a thousand. It has remained in this precarious situation for
seven years since its inauguration because of the present
attitude of the African elite and leaders towards African lingui-
stie: problems. We are intending in this pamphlet to change
this deadly attitude by putting forward new arguments in
favour of linguistic independence and unity for African coun-
tries. We are presenting, in two statements of linguistic policy,
thC:: ideas which might have preceded, and provoked the
creation of BIL, if it be true that scientific arguments are a
prc:-condition to political action. But we are happy- to note
that, if the creation of BIL was a result of political insight
anl decision, its maintenance and development are scientifi-
cally justified.
We are asking our politicians to take decisions, without pre-
conditions, in favour of the use and development of African
languages. The two basic articles which constitute this pamph-
let explain separately that African Governments are deceiving
th.:mselves by giving to European languages exclusive privileges
vii
INTRODUCI'ION .
While one reads in the following pages, the report on the
creation of the OAU Inter-African Bureau of Languages (BIL),
one cannot avoid praising the revoultionary spirit which
inspired the founding fathers of the OAU. The Organisation of
African Unity was harc:lly three years old; but already, not only
the African heads of state and Governments who had fOllnded
our organisation in 1963, but also the new leaders, who se
countries had just become independent during the period
between June 1963 and June f1966, had quickly understood
that African independence and unity could only be achieved
on condition that Africans carried out a simultaneous fight on
the three fronts of colonial domination, which are: the
political front, the economic front and the cultural and linguis-
tic front. Colonization has been accused of having linguistically
dominated, alienated and divided Africa. To promote the lingui-
stic independence and unit y of the continent, the heads of
state and Government decided upon the creation of the Inter-
African Bureau of Languages of the OAU(BIL). This was a
direct result of an article of the OAU charter which stipulates
that the official use of foreign languages will be only provi-
sionally tolerated.
The rapidity and the intentions with which BIL was created
contrast with the slowness with which this Bureau was set up,
and with the absence of concrete applications and achieve-
ments of its objectives on the part of Governments. As far as
African people are concemed they have welcomed very enthu-
siastically all the linguistic textbooks which BIL has published.
It s reported that BIL began its activities only in January
1973, that is seven years after the decision of its creation in
1966.
The consecrated objectives of the Bureau, as they had been
defmed by the founding fathers, contraSt strangely with the
cultural and linguistic policy which the majority of African
vi
A CKNOWLEDGEMENTS
We thank very much Prof. Bokamba of the University of
DIinois at Urbana-Champaign for allowing us to republish
in full the' article entitled 'The Consequences of the Language
Pocies of Africn States vis-a-vis Education,' which he, con-
jointly with J. Tlou of the same University, published in
Language and Linguistic: Problems in" Africa, Edited by Paul
Kc,tey a n d ~ g Der-Houssikian, -1977 Hombeam Press, Inc.,
6520 Courtwood Drive, Columbia, South Carolina, USA. -
CONTENTS
AcJmowledgements v
1 Introduction vi
fi Report on Functions and Activities of the OAU
Inter-A&ican Bureau of Languages by John Kalema 1
III Failure in the Obligatory Use of European Langua-
ges in Africa and the Advantages of a Policy of
Linguistic Independence by a h ~ m b o Mateene 9
IV The Consequences of the Language Policies of
A&ican States vis-a-vis Education by Eyamba G.
Bokamba and J osiah S. Tlou .............................. 45
ru
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
Kahombo MATEENE, Doctor of Linguispcs, University of Paris (Sor-
bonne) 1969, was.teachingAfrican LinguistlCS and Literature at the
University Nationale du Zare, when he was appointed in 1972, as
Diiector of OAU/BIL
John KALEMA, Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics, University of
Reading (U.K.) 1974, was teaching Linguistics at Makerere University,
Kampala before being appointed in 1977 as Deputy Director of OAU/BIL
Eyamba BOKAMBA, Ph.D., and Josiah TLOU, Ph.D., are Professors of
Linguistics at the University of Dlinois, at Urbana-Champaign, USA.
IN THIS SERIES
1. lifunze Lingala - Yekola Kiswahili Second Edition 1979 by
Kahombo Mateene
2. Yiga Kiswahili - lifunze Luganda Second Edition 1979 by Vin.
F. K. Kawoya
3. DAU/BIL 1973-1980 Reconsideration of African Linguistic Policies
.'
By Decision No. AHG/Dec. 8, 1966, creating t ~ lnter-African "Linguistic
Bureau by the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the
OAU

1
\
(
1
)
\
OAU 1 BIL 1973 1880
PUBLICATION 3
) RECONSIDERATION . OF .
.J AFRICAN LINGUISTIC POLICIES
1
)
/
i
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Director - Dr. KAHOMBO MATEENE
Deputy Dfrector - Dr. JOHN KALEMA
Edition
OAU'Bureau of Languag.
P.o. Box 7284, Kantpala,U"" .