Myth Of English Language In Africa – Facts To Know

Language is a system of communication in speech or writing that is used by people of a particular country. So, English language is pertaining to the language, descended from Anglo-Saxon, which developed in England.

Most African countries, if not all, have obviously been psychologically colonized to overrate English language; hence, they attribute it to civilization. Some Africans uses English language as a yardstick to measure intellect and intelligence. Say, anyone that can’t speak English fluently is seen as uneducated and barbarous. Interestingly, many Africans have forgotten that language is one aspect of culture of which every ethnic group has; unfortunately, due to imperialistic reorientation, they see English language as superior. It is surprising to see young Africans stigmatizing African English speakers with indigenous African accent (mother tongue); apparently, those engaging in this disdainful act, are doing so under the influence of ignorance. 

Epistemologically speaking, first language is the initial language one is taught to speak which could be either local or foreign language; subsequently, any other language learnt by that same person will definitely be affected by the first language (i.e. language interference). Meaning that, a bilingual or multilingual will not be able to communicate in subsequent language(s) without the interference of the first language; and this interference happens either consciously or unconsciously because the speaker speaks the language not as a native speaker nor as his/her first language.

Interestingly, even when a professor of igbo language whose first language is Yoruba, speaks igbo, it will definitely be identified as not coming from a native speaker because of the absence of the igbo accent i.e. igbo phonetics and phonology. Moreover, it doesn’t mean that an African cannot have the English accent; of course he/she can, in as much as English is his/her first language and mind you, that English accent will interfere in other subsequent language(s) he/she will learn; but, to some Africans, that is desirable. 

In as much as whatever worth doing is worth doing well, it is awkward to see Africans mimic and make mockery of people that their native accent interferes when they speak English language. It is disdainfully the highest level of low self esteem regarding one’s “ascribed status”. Funny enough some claim to speak good English but it will surprise them to know that their phonetics and grammatical constructions are incorrect using the “English English” as a benchmark.

It is worth noting that, most Chinese, Indians, Japanese and many other advanced countries of the world do not subscribe to this Africanist anglocentric myth of English language. But, when it comes to scientific and technological inventions and development, they top the chart. Unfortunately, the education system here in Africa in most cases, only train students on how to speak English language fluently without equipping them with the “intellectual sophistication” for inventions that will aid the sustainable development of Africa.

Nevertheless, AT A TIME LIKE THIS, the way forward is for Africans to have a “mental revolution” by retracing their footsteps, re-socializing and re-orienting themselves towards African profitable values and culture in order to actualize that “Africanism” our founding fathers hankered after.

the author
I'm a public affairs analyst. Currently studying political science at Bayero University, Kano. A radio presenter at BUKFM, Kano. I believe in hardwork and self development.


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