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What Are The Cultural Rights Of African English Speakers By Alexander K. Opicho

August 3, 2013

Inception of the republic of southern Sudan as a new sovereign state has a lot of lessons. Firstly it is an addition to the United Nations organizations, and secondly an extension of the Anglophon African atlas. The Southern Sudan republic came out through tortuous pain, but received with pomp especially by the people of southern Sudan and most warningly by the world English speaking societies.

Inception of the republic of southern Sudan as a new sovereign state has a lot of lessons. Firstly it is an addition to the United Nations organizations, and secondly an extension of the Anglophon African atlas. The Southern Sudan republic came out through tortuous pain, but received with pomp especially by the people of southern Sudan and most warningly by the world English speaking societies.   Southern Sudan, now has a national anthem  written in English, its statehood identity bears an English sound ‘’southern’’, its  state inception speeches  are fairly made in English (with a few in Korean and Arabic) but above all the official  speeches are read  in British English. This is a cultural connotation that Southern Sudan is a new African state which also is a sub-domain of English cultural civilization.   On the cultural front, birth of the 54th African state of southern Sudan justify a premise that French as an international cultural civilization has suffered an injury, and also the same case applies to Arabo-islamic religious civilsation. French linguistic subculture suffers a blow in the sense that English linguistic culture, its competitor in the realm of cultural imperialism has scored a new full state bigger than France. The state is and will be doing everything in English language as its sub- cultural terra-cotta that will guide so basic civilizations like naming of the children. While, an Arabo-islamic religious civilization has simply suffered a decimation, as in the words of European -American Writer; Ayn Rand,in form of an ominous fate of having its atlas shrugged.    The cultural future of Southern Sudan is not Dinka nor Nilotic in any manner, is going to be purely English. Southern Sudan is going to run its educational programmes from baby class to university in English, it will have a Catholic faith conducted in English, it will meanwhile use Shakespeare as drama set books at o level, A level, diploma colleges and in university schools of art and literature. Only after a generation or so to have its first batch of Sudanese English writers. Who will write literature of anti-Khartoum struggle but in British or perhaps in American English?   The eventuality of the Republic of Southern Sudan has extended the African strength of African-English culture and English linguistic civilization, both at language and commercial level. Africa is now the second largest English speaking geographical block, after the United States of America, and then followed by Australia, then Canada, India and finally the United Kingdom. This means that with proper management of the economy, Africa will be second to America in supply of actors, dramatists, scholars, novelists, poets, musicians and journalists who write and perform in English, as other Anglophone regions trail behind. This is so obvious when the current African English speaking population of more than 900 million people is taken as a basis of the projection. However, the question is that what are English cultural rights of an African? Given the position that speaking of a language alone is not true civilization, instead it is pure cultural enslavement that only ennobles the owner of the culture as at the same time ignoble the foreign speaker. The point of concern is the following questions to be answered; can an African formulate an English word; can an African formulate an English vocabulary? Can the English culture be extended to justify and accommodate a special brand of English language known as African English the way we have American English and Canadian English? Answers can be obtained only if western English civilizations mature to a level of true and unselfish intercultural relations.   The study of English language shows that most of the words used in English are not native and indigenous. They are cultural borrowings from French, Latin and Greek. The word: entrepreneur is a combination of three French verbs etre pro noir.The words; stratagem and academy are both of Greek origin, firstly used by Homer and Plato respectively. Shakespeare formulated more than one hundred English words. Some of them are; leapfrog, oxymoron, mercurial and clown. Falsifity and wench are also ascribed to him. Rudyard Kipling a pro-colonial English writer introduced very many words ;coolies and white man’s burden are his main English cultural hallmark while George Orwell the English anti-communist writer formulated double-speak and big-brother among very many others. American political writer Dr. Rourke introduced the word intermitics in 2003, meaning both international and domestic. The word has already received a very strong English cultural stature that its usage does not stir any grammatical furore.   In relation to the above observation, it is therefore notable that English language is not yet complete, it does not have enough words to describe, label and explain each and every situation that befall its users. At most, very many African situations don’t have English words that can be used in their description. It was under this cultural, linguistic and psychological quagmire that Chinua Achebe used the words; Ogbanje in things fall apart when describing a unique troublesome child, Osu, in no longer at ease when describing a girl whose natural position is that she was not born to be married and mad-medico in Anthills of the Savannah when describing unique corruptible behavior. Alex Haley used the word tuaobob, in the roots when describing unique American hostility towards a Negro slave, a situation beyond the capture of ordinary English linguistic civilization. However, a severe cultural and intellectual contradiction is that none of the above words have ever been adopted to be used as neutral English words in spite of the situation that there are no indigenous English words for the same. Reasons for their neglect are that they are of African origin but not of European or North American origin.   There are still other situations that reflect a lacuna in the English linguistic culture that can easily be described by African words. But the sad challenge is that authorities in western English language are neither ready nor willing to adopt a word of African origin for the purpose. It is therefore the duty of persons and stakeholders to English civilizations to appreciate each and every sub-culture that makes up the broad English linguistic civilization so that English as a culture can be carried above degradations that relate to cultural slavery.   Recently in the realm of past two years two African artists made very significant contributions to cultural extension of English linguistic sub-culture. These Africans  are; professor Wole Soyinka of Nigeria who was born and brought up in Yoruba nation of Nigeria and another one is a Ugandan peasant musician in a town of Mbale by the name Betty Nafuna. During his lecture on African social science and research at CODESERIA conference in Senegal, Soyinka,alerted his audience on the goodness of the name being more sweet than tyranny of taste, in this presentations Soyinka formulated and introduced the word;  ‘overrecheaosness’. Soyinka pointed out that this word was the most pertinent to be used in communicating the concept he was describing but it was not yet in the English dictionaries. Up to now no English dictionary publisher has heeded the advice of professor Soyinka to put the word, ‘overrecheausness’ in the dictionary. What a beacon of cultural laziness!   Betty Nafuna is a betty- peasant, illiterate not schooled in any manner of modern art brought up in rural villages of east Uganda, speaking Gishu language as her mother tongue, the language of Masaba Nation, but surprisingly she sings in English. And even her Musical band is known as Mbale Brosters. The word brosters being an artistic blend of the words brothers and sisters. She is able to sing in English despite of her lack of formal education because of cultural factors that in Uganda English is not a basic measure of literacy. All Ugandans; old and young, illiterate and literate, graduates and non-graduate speak British English with equal fluency. They adopted the language as their lingua franca since inception of their independence under the auspice of President, Dr. Sir Milton Apollo Obote. It  is under such context of cultivation that Betty Nafuna formed the word; Brosters. This is technically described as cultural participation. Question; when is this word brosters going to be adopted in England?   ALEXANDER   K   OPICHO ELDORET, KENYA [email protected] Phone; 0727466793     The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters           

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