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Revisiting the Language Question in African Philosophy

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The Palgrave Handbook of African Philosophy

Abstract

One of the multiple effects of colonialism in Africa was the suppression and marginalization of African indigenous languages and the imposition and valorization of colonial languages which thus became the exclusive vectors of modern education, religious proselytization, and international communication and dialogue. After independence, this language situation led to a series of debates centered on what should be the appropriate language of pedagogy, scholarship, and artistic expression in Africa. Having successfully struggled against colonialism, should Africans continue using the colonially imposed foreign languages for their teaching, knowledge production, artistic and literary expression, to the continued detriment of the colonially marginalized indigenous languages? In this chapter, Tangwa revisits the language problematic in Africa from the vantage position of one who had actively participated in the language debates in the early 1990s. Tangwa briefly considers the purpose, functions, and uses of language in general, the relationship between language and culture, and the polar positions in the language debate in Africa. The chapter ends with a brief examination of the contemporary situation in the evolution of the language problem and makes a recommendation on what appears to be the only way forward.

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Tangwa, G. (2017). Revisiting the Language Question in African Philosophy. In: Afolayan, A., Falola, T. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of African Philosophy. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-59291-0_9

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