Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Some think of it as Neo-colonialism

I came across this interesting article two days ago a starling proof that when one wants to see something that does not exist, the lack of the thing does not prevent the vision.

The thing that does not exist is an attempt to convert all African Universities into teaching in Arabic. What exists is a conference on teaching Arabic language and culture at some African universities, mostly in those African countries which have a large Muslim minority: Nigeria, Mali, Chad, Cameroon, the Comoros Islands, Tanzania, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Benin, Niger, Mauritania and Ethiopia.

And it was merely an academic conference, not even a state policy.

The writer of the article saw it as "an attack on African culture" and "attempt to arabise African education". So let us have a look at this "African education". In which languages is tertiary education provided in these countries? Amharic? Swahili? Hausa? No! In English and French - the languages of the former colonising powers. And whereas the writer states that the conference "sought to subjugate the traditional cultural, scientific, political and spiritual values of indigenous African cultures" and "an attack on a grass root resurgence in moves to reclaim African identity and culture across the Continent", I would dare to mention that "grassroots" don't usually make it to universities in Africa on account of inability to afford the luxury. A bit like in the good old days of Marxism, where the real working class was called derisively lumpen proletariat, the African "grassroots" are too busy getting clean water, anti-malaria and AIDS medication and bread to worry in which language the middle classes will get their education.

Besides, I don't really see much difference between former colonial landlords and former slave traders when it comes to history. Or maybe we have forgotten that most of these poor souls were sold to the USA and French colonies? Nationalisms can be rather blinding that way, they always need a scapegoat for their own incompetence.

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