Volume 10, Issue 1, January/April 2021
Studying and teaching ethnic African languages for Pan-African consciousness, Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance
A Decolonising Task
In order to conquer and subjugate Africans, at the 1884 Berlin Conference, European countries dismembered Africa by carving her up into pieces and sharing her among themselves. European colonialists also antagonised Africans by setting up one ethnic African community against the other, thus promoting ethnic consciousness to undermine Pan-African consciousness. European powers also imposed their own “ethnic” languages, making them not only “official”, but also “international”. Consequently, as the Kenyan philosopher, Ngũgῖ wa Thiong’o, persuasively argues, through their ethnic languages, European colonialists planted their memory wherever they went, while simultaneously uprooting the memory of the colonised. Cognisant of efforts in some South African institutions of higher learning to promote African languages for the purpose of promoting literacy in African languages, this article argues that while this exercise is commendable, ethnic African languages should be deliberately taught to “re-member” Africa and rediscover Pan-African consciousness. By doing this, African scholarship would be aiding Africans’ perennial and elusive quest for Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance.