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Despite both national and international focus on literacy and education in Africa, in part driven by the soon-to-expire Millennium Development Goals, the resulting programmes and policies are all too often delivered in the languages of former colonial powers - particularly English, French and Portuguese - at the cost of excluding the majority and those most in need. “No country can make progress on the basis of a borrowed language, understood only by a minority,” says Prah, “Only ten per cent of African people can speak French, Portuguese or English fluently. These languages cannot be the only languages of African development.”
The problem is not merely one of shaking off the remnants of the past, but of convincing those within every level of African society that undermining the status of African languages serves the interests of no one. “It’s not just a question of Western arrogance,” explains Prah, “but also of African complicity. The cultural power of the African elite is based on the fact that they are proficient users of post-colonial languages. They instil a new colonial order which excludes the majority from the structures of power.”
"Some African languages are spoken by fifty or sixty million people. It makes economic sense to develop products for this market, by this market." If we continue to pretend that African languages are unimportant in the drive to achieve ‘education for all’, says Prah, "we will forever be waiting for 90% of Africans to become English!"
Professor Kwesi Kwaa Prah, founder of The Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society, speaks about the importance of cultivating and sustaining broader uses of African languages as a tool for development around the continent, and in breaking down the imposed barriers created through the maintained hierarchy of colonial languages.
Professor Prah also stressed that the need for this kind of fundamental change needs to start with policy makers on the continent who themselves are also victims of the entrapments laid about by colonial language systems that saw African languages as inferior.
…he suggests that even those in positions of power are allowing themselves to be limited by the same colonial hierarchies of the past. “They are second-hand users of these cultures. Therefore, they are actually positioning themselves as inferiors. This can lead to a bottle-neck of tension that can explode.”
…Prah points to Vietnam and their Southeast Asian neighbours Malaysia and Indonesia. “Vietnam is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. They stopped using the language of their French colonisers: this is precisely why they are succeeding.”
Original article written by Alicia Mitchell.
Russia and the Negro: Blacks in Russian history and thought Howard University Press. 1986. Allison Blakely Northwestern University Press, May 30, 2006
Under the Sky of My Africa: Alexander Pushkin and Blackness. Northwestern University Press, May 30, 2006. Catharine Theimer Nepomnyashchy, Nicole Svobodny, Ludmilla A. Trigos
Gannibal: The Moor of Petersburg. Hugh Barnes
Beyond the Color Line: Reading Encounters between Black and Red, 1922-1963 (Duke UP, 2002). Kate A. Baldwin
Soul to Soul: A Black Russian American Family 1865-1992 Yelene Khanga
Black on Red: My 44 Years Inside the Soviet Union (May 1988) Robert Robinson
Red and Hot: The Fat of Jazz in the Soviet Union, 1917-1980 S. Frederick Starr
Africa in Russia, Russia in Africa: Three Centuries of Encounters (Editor Maxim Matusevich)
The Black Russian Vladimir Alexandrov (not yet released)
Negri v Amerike/Blacks in America - Claude McKay
Petropolis Anya Ulinich
Это я – Эдичка. Эдуард Лимонов
The Last Communist Valerie ZatoichiValerie Zatoichi
Original’nyi chelovek Leonid Andreyev.
Мистер Твистер Samuil Marshak’s poem «
Kesha Fikes and Alaina Lemon in their 2002 article “African Presence in Former Soviet Spaces.
W McClellan “Africans and Black Americans in the Comintern Schools, 1925- 1934.” (1993 (through jstor)
Rossiia i Afrika: Dokumenty i Materialy, XVIII v. – 1960 g. [Russia and Africa: Documents and Materials, 18th Century – 1960] Apollon Davison
Mazov’s “Afrikanskie Studenty v Moskve v God Afriki” [African Students in Moscow in the Year of Africa]
Julie Hessler’s “Death of an African Student in Moscow.”
Claude McKay - Soviet Russia and the Negro
And anything by Maxim Matusevich-
Probing the Limits of Internationalism: African Students Confront Soviet Ritual (find pdf)
If you have anymore to add please let me know. I will be updating it regularly.
Also, if you want to get to it, I made a separate page for it.