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Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Sincere Message on the Folly of Follies

 I am a visionary eagle. Perched on the top of upany tree, the tallest tree in Kochiila forest, I look at all corners of Africa. In front of me are mountains of folly and vanity monuments. What I see I herewith share with all daughters and sons of the land:

1.    Skyscrapers in the midst of poverty and disease

Why built multi-storey buildings among people with the lowest GDP? Why build showy skyscrapers while the majority can’t afford even a wooden cart? What is the value of skyscrapers if many people don’t have even pit latrines?
Africa’s priority is not mansions and bungalows. It is not tall buildings. What Africa needs most is safe food, safe water and decent shelter. Africa’s priority is enabling people to get their daily bread. It is preventing people from relieving themselves in the bush like wild beasts?

2.    Men and women embracing foreign customs and throw away the good African customs

What is wrong with the age-long customs that make Africa unique and exemplary? What is wrong with eating and marrying and burying people the communal way?
At birth and marriage Africans get ululations from the whole village and at death they are seen off by multitudes. It is not sinful to be controlled or guided by traditional etiquette and cultural norms. Throwing away African traditional values resembles the unwise mother who throws away her baby with the bath water.

3.    Notorious selfishness, individualism and egoism

Why are there wanton campaigns to throttle the African spirit of sharing, hospitality and generosity?  Where is the spirit of cooperation of the large African families comprising parents, children, grandparents, aunts, in-laws, as well as cousins and nephews?
There is no rationale for keeping at bay good things like traditional sharing, brotherly and sisterly giving, as well as the extended family’s sense of support and encouragement. The African age-long custom of borrowing and lending things like money, domestic utensils, beasts of burden, garments, as well as children and service bulls should be perpetuated in Africa.

4.    People throwing away aged members of the community

What is the sense of keeping the aged members of the community in isolated houses named ‘old people’s houses’? Is it fair to claim that the old folk should be kept far away because they spoil our velvet carpets and scratch our sofas with their untrimmed fingernails?
Our forbears will react angrily when they see us marginalizing or isolating our aged relatives as if they are lepers. There is no joy that surpasses that of living under one roof with the esteemed grandmothers and grandfathers – our human encyclopedias and living libraries.   

5.    The traditional code of respect being despised like a heap of dung

Is it fair for parents to treat their children as their equals? Is it wise to dismantle all age group boundaries? Is it logical for students to treat their teachers as their playmates? Is it bad to accord respect to the elderly members of the African communities?
Respect between the younger and older generations is still important in Africa. For instance, while in East Africa, Tanzania in particular, ‘shikamoo’ – the customary word of greetings from a junior member of the society – must not be interpreted as slavery, humiliation or insubordination.
Literally translated, ‘shikamoo’ means ‘I am at your feet’ but it does not connote inferiority complex on the side of the one who greets or superiority complex on the side of the one being greeted. Moreover, a younger person is expected to be the first to greet an older person.

6.    Extremely expensive cars on dilapidated motorways

Why are poor infrastructures becoming increasingly a common phenomenon in Africa? When will Africans cease traveling on narrow, bumpy, pot-holed and slippery roads? When will all Africans get running water and reliable electricity?
Blackouts or power interruptions are enemies that should be eradicated from Africa. The money spent to repair cars that travel on poor roads is more than the money used to repair the infrastructure in Africa.  

7.    European type shopping moles among people molested by disease and epidemics

Why are merciless diseases taking a heavy toll on Africans? When will diseases like malaria, yellow fever and dysentery be wiped out from Africa? Why are these diseases allowed to exist, unafraid of molesting even the educated and the wealthy?
Mosquitoes, jiggers, fleas, lice, and stomach worms can be prevented from proliferating. Since their natural habitats are well known, they can be terminated completely. 

8.    Aristocrats becoming richer and absolutely powerful

What is the logic behind the ruling class becoming tycoons at the expense of piteous paupers? What justifies the ruling oligarchy to own the whole land and all money coffers while the poor citizens do not know where to get the next meal?
The rich chaps delight at land grabbing, elections rigging, and shopping in western metropolis but the poor folk carry heavy burdens of debts and taxes. The illegitimate high class squanders the national cake. All members of aristocrats’ families have bodyguards, paid by people’s money. Illegal tycoons in Africa have bodyguards even for their dogs and cats. Unbelievable!
The well-off carry firearms wherever they go, even when they visit the toilets. They are so fearful because, as the ancestors put it, a thieving dog is scared even by its own shadow.

9.    Bogus specialists and substandard craftsmen

Why has Africa so many germs while the so-called health and hygiene personnel are on the increase? How is it possible for education standards to fall so much while every year many Africans graduate with Masters and PhDs? Why are there so many buildings that collapse while the number of construction engineers increases?
Wow! Africa is replete with terrible fake things – fake products, fake local and foreign experts, fake doctors and fake nurses, fake wives and fake husbands, fake education, fake religion, fake roads and fake bridges – fake everything. When Africa’s falsehood marries overseas falsehood, the product is beyond narration.

10. Moral decadence of the highest caliber

What is wrong with Africa’s morality? Why is the rate of moral decadence so alarming in Africa? What causes the irresistible moral erosion in Africa? Why are teenage pregnancies, rape, murder, and abortion prevalent in Africa? What underlies the trade on albino limbs – the trade done even by high profile politicians? What fuels lack of accountability and embezzlement of public funds? Can’t people live without irresponsibility and corruption?  Can’t nepotism and tribalism be eradicated?   
Parents and guardians are crying because of the moral decadence among their children. Teachers and school owners are shedding tears because of the moral deterioration among students. Moral integrity, ethical uprightness and trustworthiness are dwindling in Africa. Remedial measures must be taken pretty soon.

11.  Dangerous misuse of religion

Why have Africans begun to misuse religion? What are the reasons for the increase of sorcery and witchcraft in Africa? Why do most African sportsmen and sportswomen visit witchdoctors prior to great competitions? Why are deeds like divination and casting out demons gaining credence in modern Africa? Why are crones and albinos killed for religious reasons?
Africans used to involve religion in all sectors of their lives – birth, disease, marriage, death, education, farming, animal rearing, architecture, as well as sports and recreation. Nowadays the pendulum is changing direction.
Religious pride, cultural pomposity, and dubious missions are increasingly becoming the popular fashion in Africa. Questionable sects and denominations mushroom in Africa. Worse still, religion is now a money-mongering business. Social gospel is embraced by multitudes. Prayers and forgiveness of sins are offered for money. Well-behaved believers are decreasing and myopic preachers strive to deflect people from their good religious and ethical heritage.
In Africa, visitors and guests are allowed to do sacrilegious deeds and display bad manners like smoking or drinking even at worship premises, something that is offensive to reasonable people. Africans should not be pleased with people who propagate alien behavior such as indulgence and individualism – vices in African religious standards. 

12. Wind of secularization, blowing slowly but detrimentally

Why is secularism gaining more ground in Africa? What is planting the seeds of atheism and agnosticism on the so-called ‘dark continent’? Why are secular and atheistic philosophers like Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, Jean-Paul Sartre and Baruch Spinoza getting more disciples in Africa? Where is Africa destined to?
Giving room to secularism and atheism is leading Africa astray. Divorcing religion from the day-to-day affairs is inviting the white man’s plight. Communities that have decided to do away with faith and dependence on God are currently regretting the consequences.
The Bible and the Quran should remain revered Scriptures among Africans, and despising or leveling malicious criticism to these sacred books is indeed abhorrent. 

By Godson S. Maanga(godsonmaanga@yahoo.com)
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Sunday, 10 December 2017

Why African Languages Don’t Compete Internationally


When one talks of African languages, one brings to mind an issue that is somewhat complex and difficult to define. African languages, simply defined, mean African vernaculars or African local tongues. They are the languages spoken by African indigenous peoples, and from this perspective they are sometimes referred to as African indigenous languages.
Africa has numerous vernaculars, estimated to be 1500-2000. Most of these languages are spoken by very few people but over the years, some of them have reached the stage of being spoken by larger communities. African languages spoken by big communities include Swahili, Arabic, Afrikaans, Amharic, Berber, Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa.
Multiplicity of African languages may pose a great challenge to the discussion at hand. There are so many languages in Africa that it becomes practically difficult to enable them to be heard all. This lack of platform is one of the factors that confine these languages to very narrow regions.
Having given a brief definition of African languages, it can be stated that language is one of the most conspicuous aspects of human culture and one of the gifts endowed to human beings by their Creator.
Every language, considered from a general perspective, is on the forefront in all human activities but unfortunately that is not the case with most African languages. At international level, African languages have proven incapable to compete with the so-called world languages. What is wrong? Here is the answer:

(i)  Prioritizing foreign languages


In many corners of Africa, foreign languages take precedence over the local languages. Many African countries use foreign languages as media of commerce, trade, religion, and schooling. Even at home, most African parents communicate with their children using foreign languages, thinking that it is a sign of development.
In the middle ages, the Protestant reformers, with Martin Luther on the lead, discovered the danger of embracing a foreign language such as Latin as a medium of instruction. How was the danger dealt with?
Luther advocated translating scriptures into German and ever since German has been elevated to the position of being used in all spheres. His advocacy for using local tongue was later on useful and popular, not only in ecclesiastical circles but also in German secular literature. Candidly speaking, Chinua Achebe was not wrong when he asserted that he who lacks a mother tongue is the poorest fellow on earth.
What can independent Africa learn from Martin Luther? One of the leading lessons is the fact that Luther’s advocacy for German, a local language in his time, contributed enormously to revolutionizing and reforming the socio-cultural as well as religio-political pendulum across Europe and eventually around the whole world. It is from this angle African indigenous languages can be looked upon as effective tools of revolution and reformation, if given chance or platform.

(ii) Viewing African languages as primitive and underdeveloped


It is a pity to see that one of the factors that render African languages incapable to compete with foreign languages is the tendency – deeply rooted in history – to look at African languages as gadgets of primitiveness, ignorance, and underdevelopment. Why are these languages treated with disdain?
In a country like Zimbabwe where indigenous languages are spoken by more than 90% of the population, English is given first priority even by the black folk who claim that English is a stepping stone to knowledge and skills, better jobs and salaries, as well as greater power and influence (Wagwa 2015:1).
The Zimbabwean community is representative of most communities across Africa that have fallen into the folly of looking at African languages as inferior, incapable, outdated, and inapplicable to science and technology.
African languages are looked at as underdeveloped, disorganized and unintelligible. Some malicious critics have reached the extent of equalizing these tongues with the languages of the primates: gorillas, chimpanzees and apes. In his offensive and disputable document, My African Notebook, Albert Schweitzer said shamelessly that Africans are a sub-race – people who lack intellectual as well as emotional and mental ability compared with the white race that is civilized and superior (Crimes of The Times 2012).
Narrating his experiences in French Equatorial Africa (now Gabon and Cameroon), the racist Schweitzer who to the surprise of many Africans was given a Nobel Peace Prize in 1952, concluded that the black people and their languages are always children in thoughts and deeds – they occupy a low status in the human race and they are so inferior that they should always be taught by the white masters, using the white masters’ languages.
To most arrogant western voyagers, the myopic intruders, and the malicious and merciless invaders of Africa, Africa was a dark continent inhabited by heathens who spoke heathen languages. Why did these people consider Africa a dark continent? The answer is very simple.
Europeans and North Americans called Africa a dark continent, not because they did not know much about it but because, as Patrick Brantlinger explains, they expected to find a lot of mysteries and savagery in Africa’s interior (Brantlinger 1985). To date, Africa is still a dark continent to most westerners, and African languages are regarded as depictions of African savagery and uncouthness.
Viewing African languages as inferior to foreign languages makes some Africans shrink back, fearing sharing on the world stage the rich heritage of African languages packed in African traditional poetry, dances, riddles, proverbs, puns, folktales, customs, and legends.
An ardent research from the socio-cultural and lingual-historical viewpoint emerges with the emphasis that in all human societies there are no ‘primitive’ or vernaculars that are ‘linguistically inferior’ (Mvungi 1978:35).

(iii) One-sided language policies


What is the reason behind the fact that, over the decades, some African governments have been establishing language policies that hinder the progress or proliferation of African languages? In some African countries, fans or defenders of African languages are accused of being catalysts or promoters of regionalism, ethnicity and tribalism.
Immediately after independence, most African governments looked at African languages as hurdles on the way of building national unity. Until today, some government policy makers accuse local language propagators as being unpatriotic and anti-nationalistic. Why is it so? The answer is that the culture of nationalism and modernization which emphasizes ‘unity through uniformity’ has little tolerance for ethnicity or group identity (Harlech-Jones 2001:115).
Quite a big number of African governments discourage people from using indigenous languages, claiming that these languages mar national cohesion which reflects state nationalism. This stance is not without some critique because, in Kenya for instance, it was the local language (Kikuyu) that assisted considerably in bringing the freedom fighters to great success during the Mau Mau movement in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
The world has witnessed countries like China, Germany, and Japan making a big pace of development using indigenous languages. Testifying this, two African researchers show how a country like Japan reached high heights of technological progress through using its indigenous language (Mazrui Alamin and Ali Mazrui 1995:33-34).

(iv) Lack of African national languages


How many African countries have African national languages? With the exception of Tanzania, which very early and under the wise leadership of Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere adopted Swahili as a national language, most African countries lack national languages chosen from one of the indigenous peoples. Besides using Swahili as a national unifying tool, Nyerere picked up this particular language because he perceived it as a language for the country’s liberation, independence and freedom (Blommaert 1999:15).
In the frenzy of the historic Arusha Declaration, Swahili was made Tanzania’s  national language in 1967, and around that period it was declared the medium of instruction in primary schools and teachers’ training colleges (Puja 2003:119). Adopting Swahili as the national language and medium of instruction in Tanzania is validated by the ever-living words of the Ghanaian scholar, that in any nation, the language of instruction “in the home language or mother tongue is an instrument for the cultural and scientific empowerment of the people” (Prah 2003:17).
Contrary to other countries, Nyerere built on the option of the colonial educators who as far back as the 1920s recommended Swahili to be the lingua franca in Tanganyika because the multiplicity of vernaculars in Tanganyika “made it difficult for the government to find a common media of communication” (Lema 1980:149-150).
Unfortunately, some African nations have chosen foreign tongues as national languages. For instance, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Nigeria have taken English as their official national languages; Angola, Mozambique and Cape Verde have opted for Portuguese; and Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea Conakry have chosen French.
What would have gone wrong were all African nations to choose from one of the languages spoken by the ethnic groups living in the territorial boundaries of these nations to be their national language? Nothing! No sensible person would object if South Africa would use Zulu as its official language, Ghana Ashanti, Kenya Dholuo, Sudan Dinka, Uganda Baganda, Zimbabwe Shona, Malawi Chichewa, Congo Lingala, Nigeria Yoruba, and so and so forth.
After choosing a particular national language, the second thing would be issuing a law that all things done inside the country should be in this particular language. However, the only problem here is rivalry among the ethnic groups as to what local language is to be adopted as a national language.
 African nations with African national languages such as Tanzania that adopted Swahili – estimated to be spoken by more than 50 million people – have less socio-political wrangles witnessed in other African nations.
It is encouraging to see that in East Africa Swahili is increasingly competing with foreign tongues but that is not the case with other languages in other parts of Africa. If at the national level African languages fail to compete with foreign languages like English or French, can they compete at international level? Certainly, no!

(v)  Dynamics of modernism


Globalization, in the garb of modernism, is one of the greatest and cruelest capitalistic forces that throw most African languages onto the verge of extinction. Apart from the negative forces of this monster called globalization, what else is eroding the strength of African indigenous languages?
African children growing up in modern African urban centers embrace foreign languages and pay very little attention to the African languages. These children, and even their parents, have no time to stay with the old folk and learn the traditional values, as it was the case with children growing up in Africa 40 or 50 years ago.
Thus, gone are the old good and useful days when young people learned (in the African languages) African socio-cultural values in the form of proverbs, riddles, fables, aphorisms, songs, etc. from the African elderly people who were sages, philosophers and ardent propagators of African languages.
Indicating the role of African elders and the value of indigenous languages, Nelson Mandela – the African hero who spent 27 years in prison and came out smiling and pardoning even his jailers – attests that the stories, legends, myths, and fables he used to hear during his childhood contained very useful moral instructions (Mandela 2010:10).
If African indigenous tongues have been so useful since the distant past, how come they fail to compete on the international arena? And wouldn’t it be marvelous for the African repertoire of wisdom to be imparted to the world using African indigenous languages? Indeed, it would!

(vi) Linguistic neo-colonialism


How does language perpetuate colonialism in independent Africa? A study in Africa’s cultural-political history unravels the whole truth. Language-based colonialism is an obvious phenomenon in Africa because foreign languages were one of the tools for planting and reinforcing colonial domination.
Most African nations gained independence mainly in the early 1960s but one question is worth asking – are these nations really free? The answer is obvious. It is indisputable that most African countries got only flag independence.
Without mincing words, an African political analyst reminds us of the fact that “although British, French, and Portuguese colonialisms have officially come to an end in virtually all of Africa, a form of cultural imperialism has survived and continued up until the present time” (Oyegoke 2001:7).
When one looks at all corners of Africa, what does one see? One sees countries that are still under colonial fetters or neo-colonialism, to use the well-known term. Existence of Anglophone Africa (English-speaking Africa), Francophone Africa (French-speaking Africa), and Lusophone Africa (Portuguese-speaking Africa) is illustrative of this situation.
It is saddening to see that most African countries are increasingly subjected to re-colonization, by themselves and by outside nations. Many African nations “are in the process of self-colonization in the name of empowerment, access to education and globalization . . . There is mental self-colonization among Africans, which leads to a dependency syndrome. . .” (Wagwa 2015:1).
African indigenous languages fail to compete internationally because when African leaders travel around in the white master’s lands to beg, they are compelled by circumstances to use foreign languages instead of their local tongues.
When they solicit for funds, partnerships and foreign investments condition is to solicit using foreign languages. Some Africans, particularly the educated and the affluent ones think that acquiring a foreign language becomes “one of the means by which members of one class differentiate themselves from others in their own society who speak the same mother tongue” (Adejunmobi 2004:194).
In many parts of Africa, Africans distance themselves from their own people by embracing foreign languages. Foreign tongues are indeed tools of promoting superiority complex among the African elites who erroneously maintain that speaking the African vernaculars is a sign of less education and being uncivilized. The common sight in Africa are brainwashed and colonized Africans who speak foreign languages with utter mimicry, i.e. imitating the white man’s voice, movements and mannerisms.
When will African nations succeed to put at bay the intrusion of foreign nations? When will African countries be able to stand on their own feet – managing their own affairs without receiving instructions and dictations from the so-called overseas partners?
Looking at the current encroachment of foreign powers into Africa, in the near future we shall see what can be coined as Chinophone Africa (Chinese-speaking Africa), Hindophone Africa (Hindi-speaking Africa), Germanophone Africa (German-speaking Africa), Russophone Africa (Russian-speaking Africa), and Scandinophone Africa (Scandinavian-speaking Africa).
In Africa, with the robust and well-calculated establishment of Confucius Institute and probably Gandhi Institute – counterparts of the British Council and Goethe Institute – everybody realizes that foreign campaigns to throttle or strangle African languages are indeed strong and well-planned. In the near future, Africa may completely be devoid of her local languages. Most of these languages have died out and many more are on their way to extinction. There are about 52 African languages that are already extinct, in the sense that they are no longer spoken by any African ethnic group. These languages include Ngasa (Tanzania), Kwadi (Angola), Horo (Chad), Togoyo (Sudan) and Coptic (Egypt).
History has it that great conquerors, philosophers, artists, and reformers like Plato, Socrates, Alexander the Great, Martin Luther, Wolfgang Goethe, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Shaban Robert, Nelson Mandela – to mention only a few – used language to win people into their points of view. Language is a steering-wheel that leads thousands, if not millions, to even unplanned direction. Language is a fishing net that catches even the most stubborn shark.

(vii) Bias of the multinationals


UNO and UN-affiliated organizations refuse to use African languages in their day-to-day activities. Most big companies, in trade and communication, refuse to use African languages in their transactions. Financial companies like the IMF and the World Bank accord negligible importance to African tongues. African languages are mostly ignored by search engines like Google, Bing and Ask.
For quite a long  time, there have been hot debates about using African indigenous languages to teach subjects like Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics.The main argument heard from the opponents of this motion is that African indigenous languages lack sufficient vocabulary to teach these subjects. Thus, African indigenous languages have no place in science and technology. Why? Most multinationals still hold erroneous and false views that African languages do not qualify for world trade and international affairs.
Bluntly explained, African languages have not come of age. This is bias of the highest order. It is a notion strongly opposed by open-minded people who are convinced that an indigenous language like Swahili possesses all qualities of teaching science and technology.
What are the consequences of discarding African languages from world affairs? In the state of being ignored and marginalized, African languages lag behind the foreign languages. It is pleasant to see that the BBC, the CNN and Radio China International have short programmes in African indigenous languages, but most international radio and TV stations avoid African languages, with the same capitalistic excuse that it is risky and uneconomical to broadcast in these languages. How would the dwellers of the Western Hemisphere know and enjoy the beauty and power of African indigenous languages if they do not encounter this beauty in international advertisements and broadcastings?
Worse still, African languages are not sufficiently used by the local broadcasting corporations. How would people, Africans ad non-Africans, get and use Yoruba or Igbo or Nyakyusa or Kikamba if these languages are ignored? How can the world know the beauty of Matabele or Acholi or Bakosi or Kalenjin tongues if they remain being languages that are not heard on radio or read on newspapers?     

(viii) Lack of research and publications


Serious research and publications in African languages are handful. What underlies this pathetic situation? African languages are ignored or given least attention by serious researchers and because of that information acquired from research in Africa is largely disseminated in foreign languages.
When western missionaries came to Africa, they did some research on some African languages but unfortunately the research has not been perpetuated. As a result African languages are phasing out at an alarming rate. In a study done in 1995, it was concluded that within the next 100 years most African languages in the 95% of the 6000 languages estimated to exist on earth will have died out (Monbiot 1995). A leading literary scholar is not afraid of reminding the world that the African heritage in African languages “must be researched, documented, and be incorporated into our school curricular . . . [because African] indigenous languages are being eroded very fast” (Mshingeni 2001:3).
What is the factor behind the little research and publications in the indigenous languages? One of the reasons set forth is limited market. Over and over again, it has been explained that any stuff in African languages enjoys a very limited market and many African publishers have always complained about these market constraints.
Bearing in mind the difficulties of marketing African indigenous books, the few documents in African languages published by mission publishing houses in the 19th century are indeed commendable.
Unfortunately, there has not been a serious follow-up ever since and nowadays there are very few people who take courage to publish in African indigenous languages. Even the scriptures translated into African indigenous languages are not spared the lashes of malicious critics.
Ngugi wa Thiong’o (formerly James Ngugi) of Kenya is credited for being courageous enough to venture into writing in his mother tongue, Kikuyu or Gikuyu as it is sometimes pronounced. After writing in English for a long time, he began to write in Kikuyu, one of the leading languages in Kenya, and by doing so he came up with popular books like Ngaahika Ndeenda, Caitaani Mutharaba-ini, Matigari ma Njiruungi and others.
Following his going into exile to escape persecution by Kenyan authorities, Ngugi, in collaboration with some Kikuyu men and women of letters started the journal entitled Mutiiri: Njaranda ya Miikarire. Unfortunately, like the other publications in the African vernaculars, this journal received a poor market due to the fact that very few people understand Kikuyu.
Among other factors, Ngugi decided to write in Kikuyu as a means of coming back to his people, from whom he has been isolated for decades during the period of writing in English – the result of the bad influence of colonial education. He is of the opinion that writing in the African languages brings the African writers closer to their people, as well as making their message more relevant and more meaningful in the African realities (Killam & Rowe 2000:233).
One of the aims of Ngugi wa Thiong’o to write in his indigenous language is shaking the fetters of colonialism off his shoulders as well as off the shoulders of his readers. With this purpose in mind, he wrote that famous book entitled Decolonizing the Mind, where he argues convincingly that one of the ways of getting rid of neo-colonialism is doing away with foreign languages, particularly the languages used by the nations that pacified and ruled Africa, following the obnoxious Berlin Conference in 1884/85.
Talking about meaningful poetry in this bold and relevant treatise, Ngugi argues that relevant African poetry “is the poetry composed by Africans in African languages” (Ngugi 2006:87). Isn’t that enough attestation as far as the competence of African languages is concerned?   
Ngugi’s tribesman, Gakaara wa Wanjau, has published popular books in Kikuyu, such as Wa Nduuta Hingo ya Paawa, Mwandiki wa Mau Mau Ithaamirio-ini, Mihiriga ya Agikuyu, Mwandikire wa Gikuyu Karing’a, and Ugwati wa Muthungu Muiru, to mention only a few of his numerous publications. However, like most stuff written in the indigenous language, Gakaara’s books have received a little attention and unstable market due to the fact that they have not succeeded to go beyond the confines of the Kikuyu community.
Why do scripts in African languages get least appreciation from publishers? The frequently heard answer is that titles in African languages have very limited market. Apart from the more or less non-existence of books and newspapers in the African languages, there is the problem of the reading culture.
If most Africans have no time to read things written in the foreign languages, would they get time to read things in their African languages? The answer is no!
Together with the scarcity of publishers who are not ready to publish in the African languages, there are very few radio and TV stations that broadcast in the African languages. The reason given is that, like publications, broadcasting in African languages is an exercise that gets very few fans or listeners.
  

(ix) Failure to acquire international status


When a language gets a particular role and gains recognition in all countries, it can be said to have attained a real ‘global status’ (Crystal 1977). A language becomes global by being given an ‘official status’ or an official medium of communication (Chamberlain 2001:101). African languages lag behind foreign languages because they are accorded least recognition in their countries and as a result they fail to achieve a global rank. 

(x) Lack of translators


What publishers would sanction translation of a book written in an African language unless its author is already famous? It is profitable to translate a work of a well-known writer like Ngugi wa Thiong’o, who nowadays writes in Kikuyu, because he first of all gained fame through writing in English. Despite the old adage that it is not good to judge a book by its cover, any cover bearing the name of a well-known writer like Ngugi would attract readers to demand immediate translation of the book, regardless of the fact that it is written in an African language. 
Translation too, like composing original works, has an eye for market. No publishers would agree to produce a translation of a book which they are not sure of making good sales.
Hesitation to translate books or documents written in one of the African vernaculars has made their authors to remain in obscurity for many years. A good case in point is Shaaban Robert, believed to rub shoulders with African literary giants like Chinua Achebe and Ngugi wa Thiong’o. Shaaban Robert’s masterpieces like Adili na Nduguze, Kusadikika and Kufikirika were not translated during his lifetime, something that made him largely unknown to most fans and critics of African literature. Another example is Nawal el Saadawi, the female Egyptian writer who took many years to get her books written in Arabic translated into English.

To conclude, suffice it to say that to give African languages a footing in social, cultural, religious, political or scientific activities, it is imperative to know where things went wrong or – to employ Achebe’s proverbial remarks – we need to know where the rain began to beat us.
The value and role of African indigenous languages can be revived only when Africans know where and when they decided to remain docile and allow foreigners and their languages to take control. Africans must seriously tackle the problem that makes their languages impotent and act accordingly.
African languages are hoes that should be used; otherwise they will rust and get their handles eaten away by termites. If they persist being ignored and marginalized, African languages will continue being ailing and they will never compete internationally.
Given chance and platform, African languages will reach the highest heights of command and victory! Otherwise, they are destined to imminent extinction.

References

Alamin, Mazrui and Ali Mazrui (1995). Swahili, State and Society: The Political Economy of an African Language. Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers.

Adejunmobi, Moradewun (2004). Vernacular Palaver: Imaginations of the Local and Non-native Languages in West Africa. London: Cromwel Press Ltd.

Blommaert, Jan (1999). State Ideology and Language in Tanzania. Cologne: Rudiger Koppe Verlag.

Brantlinger, Patrick (1985). “Victorians and Africans: The Genealogy of the Myth of the Dark Continent,” in Critical Inquiry Vol. 12, No. 1. ‘Race’, Writing and Difference (Autumn, 1985), pp. 166-203.

Chamberlein, R.G.D. (2001). “Language in the Process of Globalisation: Access, Equity, and Opportunity”, in Brian Harlech-Jones, Ismael Mbise, and Helen Vale (eds.), Guardian of the Word: Literature, Language and Politics in SADC Countries. Windhoek: Gamsberg Macmillan Publishers Ltd., pp. 101-107.

Crystal, D. (1977). English as a Global Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Harlech-Jones, Brian (2001). “Language, Nationalism and Modernisation: Reflections from Namibia,” in

Harlech-Jones, Mbise and Vale (eds.) (2001), pp. 108-127.

Killam, Douglas & Ruth Rowe (eds.) (2000). The Companion to African Literatures. Oxford: James Currey/Bloommington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Lema, Anza A. (1980). The Influence of Christian Mission Societies on Education Policies in Tanganyika 1868-1970. Hong Kong: Minda Printing.

Mandela, Nelson (2010). Conversation with Myself. London: Macmillan.

Monbiot, George (1995). “Global Villagers Speak with Forked Tongues,” in Guardian Weekly, 3 September 1995.

Mshingeni, Keto E. (2001). “Opening Address,” in Harlech-Jones, Mbise and Vale (eds.) (2001), pp. 1-4.

Mvungi, Martha (1978). “Language Policy in Education: A Historical View,” in Papers in Education No. 1, Department of Education, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Dar es Salaam.

Oyegoke, Lekan (2001).  “Post-Colonial Heritage: Politics of Creativity in Southern Africa,” in Harlech-
 Jones, Mbise and Vale (eds.) (2001), pp. 7-14.

Prah, Kwesi Kwaa (2003). “Going Native: Language of Instruction for Education, Development and African Emancipation,” in Birgit Brock-Utne, Zubeida Desai and Martha Qorro (eds.) (2003), Language of Instruction in Tanzania and South Africa (LOITASA), pp. 14-34.

Puja, Grace Khwaya (2003). “Kiswahili and Higher Education in Tanzania: Reflections Based on a Sociological Study from Three Tanzanian University Campuses,” in Birgit Brock-Utne, Zubeida Desai and Martha Qorro (eds.) (2003), pp. 113-128.

Schweitzer, Albert (1939). “Albert Schweitzer and His Controversial ‘My African Notebook’” Quotes: Setting the Record Straight, Wednesday, November 21, 2012. Also available on crimesofthetimes.blogspot.com/2012/11/albert-schweitzer-and-his-controversial.html.

Wagwa, Wiseman (2015). “Attitudes towards the Use of Indigenous African Languages as Languages of Instruction in Education: a Case of Zimbabwe”, in Journal of Educational Policy and Entrepreneurial Research (JEPER), Vol. 2, No. 1, January 2015, pp. 1-16. Also available on http:/www.iiste.org/Journal/index.php/JEPER.

Wa Thiong’o Ngugi (2006). Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. Oxford: James Currey/Nairobi:EAEP/ Portsmouth: Heinemann.


By Godson S. Maanga
(godsonmaanga@yahoo.com)
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Sunday, 27 November 2016

Tips on How to Pass Exams



One of the requirements or expectations in students’ career is passing exams. Whether you are a primary school pupil, a secondary school student, or a university candidate, passing exams is one of the conditions that will propel you forward. Unfortunately, some people are so scared by exams that they develop what psychologists term ‘examination fever’. After reading these tips you will realize that a person who knows how to handle exams needs not being afraid of exams. The following tips are therefore equally important as far as passing exams is concerned:

1. Revise sufficiently
In the course of attending class lectures, as well as taking notes in private studies, you collect notes that at the end need to be revised for the sake of passing your exams. Because of this, your notes are supposed to be written properly and systematically so that you can revise them easily. Moreover, the fact that a student attends different lectures on different subjects, there must be a well-planned revision timetable, to make sure that all subjects are given equal time for revision.
 
2. Predict possible questions
A successful student is the one who is able to predict possible questions for a certain exam. You have stayed with your lecturer or teacher for some time, and you know what they have been insisting. There are areas in the class lectures the lecturer has been highlighting as being very important. In your notes, there are places which carry little weight but there are areas which look so significant that the possibility of your lecturer setting questions from them becomes quite obvious to you. Another method of predicting possible questions is looking at the questions of past exams on the same subject. Although wise lecturers do not set questions that are exactly similar to past questions, in terms of structure and wording, the kernel or central idea of past questions is more or less similar to the theme of the exam ahead of you.

3. Understand your studies
Prior to going to the exam room make sure you understand what you have learned. Try as much as you can to understand the knowledge or information you have gathered over the term or semester. Understand and do not memorize as some poor students do. Memorizing like a parrot is a very poor way of learning and doing exams at large. A student who understands what the lecturer has taught has knowledge and can answer a question set on any area of the course.

4. Approach the exam with a positive attitude
If you approach an exam with a positive mind you will get positive results and if you go to an exam with a negative attitude the results will also be negative. In any exam, you sit for trust or convince yourself that you can make it and at the end of the day things will be so. A good student should not behave like a coward soldier who is defeated before the war starts.

5. Use the exam day wisely
There are things you need to bear in mind on the exam eve and on the exam day. On the exam eve revise lightly, sleep sufficiently, and take a light meal. Prepare the tools necessary for the exam (e.g. pens, pencils, drawing compasses, as well as the exam identity and number that show that you are allowed to sit for the exam). On the exam day observe the following things which are often overlooked or neglected by some students, resulting in getting poor grades in exams.

(a) Wake up early, wash your body, brush your teeth and take light breakfast. Do not drink big amounts of fluids like tea, juice, coffee, or porridge to avoid frequent cases of going out for short calls when the exam is in session. Another thing to observe is to dress decently as well as avoiding wearing strong perfumes which might be a cause of embarrassment to other people in the exam room.

(b) Be punctual to avoid going to the exam room sweating or panting because of rushing. Punctuality will also save you unexpected problems like traffic jams on the roads you use on your way to the exam center or poor health disorder like a headache, flew, or stomach upset. In the case of health problems punctuality will enable you to inform the invigilator beforehand that your health is not good and the invigilator will know how to take care of you in the course of the exam. For the students who go to exams driving personal cars, your car may refuse to start up and for the students who do exams using computers the computer may fail to start up as well. Arriving at the exam center at least half an hour earlier will enable you to get rid of such problems.

(c) Never go to the exam room with unauthorized materials like small pieces of paper or mobile phones, to avoid being suspected of cheating. If you have been attending classes regularly and you have spent enough time to revise your notes, you will pass the exam without cheating. Remember that cheating in exams is an academic crime and if you are caught cheating stern measures will be taken against you, including immediate expulsion from the exam room. Better get 60% using your own head than getting 90% through cheating.

(d) While inside the exam room do not do things that might raise suspicion. For instance, fumbling in your pockets from time to time, sitting too close to another examinee, exchanging objects like rulers or erasers without permission of the invigilator, or visiting the toilets frequently and stay there longer than usual.

(e) Follow exam rules or regulations. Do not open or start doing the exam before you are permitted to do so. If you are supposed to answer only one question respect the instructions because doing all questions is a violation of exam rules, regardless of how good you may answer these questions. If a certain question is compulsory, answer it, no matter how difficult it is. Do not change the nature or structure of the exam questions to fit your taste or liking.

(f) Comprehend a question before starting to answer it. Also, understand the task expected from you in connection with the exam questions. For example, understand what you are supposed to do when given tasks like explain, give an account on, discuss, comment, clarify, verify, analyze, etc.  

(g) Start answering the difficult questions. Do difficult questions when you have energy because an examinee’s answering stamina tends to diminish towards the end of the time allocated to a certain exam. Another advantage of starting with the difficult questions is that examiners set exams in such a way that difficult questions get more marks.

(h) While answering exam questions use a neat handwriting. Despite the fact that most people do exams in a hurry in order to finish in time, try to maintain a clean work as much as possible. If you can work in a hurry and at the same time produce a clean work you prove to the examiners that you are an able student. Clean work will appeal to the person(s) marking your exam and it will earn you more points. This is because a clean work is easier to read and mark.

(i) Spare a few minutes to check your answers, to make sure that they are logically arranged. Check your language. “Check your Ts, and Js”, as one good teacher used to tell us when we were in primary school. An uncut t looks like an l and g without its proper downward bend looks like q. Furthermore, j or i without dots on top of them are non-existent letters in the alphabet.

(j) Check your work to make sure that you have answered all questions you were supposed to answer. Some examinees are so nervous or shaky during exams that they fall into the plight of leaving some questions unanswered. For example, if you answer three questions instead of four you were supposed to answer, you will obviously fail the exam.

(k) Make sure that all questions you have answered are numbered. Also pin your answer sheets systematically to avoid leaving out any sheet of paper. This is important, particularly if you have decided to answer the questions starting with the difficult ones.

(l) Even if the exam appears easy to you, avoid showing openly that you are able to finish it within a short time. So don’t be the first to get out of the exam room because that might give the impression that you have belittled the exam. Some exam regulations stipulate that no student is allowed to go out of the exam room before a certain period of time has elapsed. If an exam was supposed to be done for let us say two hours and you show that you have done it in half an hour, the invigilator will mark you and the consequences might not be very good on your side. After all the questions you think are easy may in the actual fact be harder than you have thought.

(m) When you are satisfied that you have done everything correctly and within the given time hand over your answer sheets to the invigilator and march out of the exam room without making noise. Once you are outside the exam room make sure that you go far away to give chance to other examinees to finish the exam without disturbance.

(n) Don’t waste your time discussing an exam that is over. To avoid regret or remorse about questions you might have answered wrongly or poorly, forget discussing the exam you have already done and concentrate on the coming one. Remember the age-long wise saying – spilled water cannot be recollected!

If you have prepared sufficiently for your exam, you don’t need to panic or worry. After all, exams test only a small part of the things covered in a course. Do your exam with confidence and hope, knowing that there are other people who have done exams that are even harder than the one you are doing now but with determination and self-confidence, they got very good grades. Maybe the exam you are doing is not the first one – you have done other exams in the past and you passed. If you have passed other exams in the past, why not the one you are currently doing? These tips focus mainly on written exams, but even in oral exams, they are quite helpful. 

By Godson S. Maanga
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Saturday, 26 November 2016

Hints for Improving Your Spoken English


Speaking properly and convincingly is the dream or aspiration of any person speaking English. A good diction in spoken English makes people bother to listen to you. It gives you a positive image in the society you belong to as well as making your point of view more lucid and articulate. To acquire a good command of spoken English, consider the following points:   

1. Use Standard English
Generally, there are two types of English (British English and American English) but over the years there has developed ‘Regional English’, a term that means the type of English spoken in different regions of the world like Canada, Scotland, Australia, and India. In Africa ‘Regional English’ includes West African English, East African English, South African English, and North African English. There are also smaller brands like Nigerian English, Kenyan English, Egyptian English, Ethiopian English, and Congolese English. Taking time to identify and use Standard English will be very important in speaking better English. Standard English is more refined or polished and it is the language used by civilized or well-behaved people. Colloquial English like slangs and vulgarities are discredited in Standard English – the language recommended for official talks.

2. Listen to English programs offered online
A student who is not a native English speaker needs to know how words in Standard English are pronounced. Examples of useful online programs are Test Your English, BBC Learning English, Alison, and Udemy. Spending a few minutes every day to listen to these online English-learning programs will add cubits to improving your spoken English.

3. Watch and listen to standard radio and TV stations
International radio and TV stations employ announcers and commentators who are good at Standard English. Such stations include the BBC, CNN, CCTV, SABC, and NHK World. These stations are taken as role models because their main objective is to capture an international audience. Another way of improving your spoken English is watching various movies broadcast on local and international channels. So listen and watch news bulletins, documentaries, movies, and even videos displayed on various visual-audio mass media forums.
  
4. Read texts aloud
When you take a text, be it a book or a newspaper, and read it aloud, your spoken English improves considerably. When you read something aloud, you get a chance of listening to your own voice, as well as reading by maintaining the tempo of spoken English. If possible, read the text in the presence of a friend, family member, or colleague who will listen and correct you when you commit a pronunciation error.

5. Do not be afraid of making mistakes
At the beginning speak freely, without bothering you are committing pronunciation mistakes or not. Remember that language mistakes are common human errors and this reality is realized when a person begins speaking English. Even the native English speakers commit many mistakes. As you persist speaking you will elevate yourself to higher standards of spoken English. Good spoken English comes with daily practice and when practicing, even in sports and games, worry not about mistakes.

6. Use simple and short sentences
In the process of improving your spoken English, avoid difficult and long sentences. Windy sentences full of jargons are unintelligible even to the speaker. Just as long written sentences make the writer’s ideas muddled up, so do long sentences while speaking. It is good to remember that simple and short sentences are easier to pronounce and in case there is a message you want to pass across, it is also easier for your listeners to follow. Remember that clarity in speech is determined by brevity and because of that speak in such a way that your sentences are short and clear.
      
7. Read as much as you can
Reading recommended publications on proper English speaking will be an enormous contribution to your spoken English. These publications are written by experts in their respective fields and it will pay if you develop the habit of reading them over and over again. This particular reading should bear in mind diversity in topics and specialization. Read the materials that appeal most to you but if you can read without being too choosy your spoken English will improve a great deal. So if you are a timid or novice speaker intending to increase ability in spoken English read books from various fields in the social sciences as well as from pure sciences. Do not ignore pieces of literature like novels, poems, essays, plays and biographies; or books on Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Astronomy, and Anthropology. 

8. Listen to other people’s speeches
Listen to other people’s lectures to understand how experts speak English. Most public speakers have a big experience and listening to them is quite rewarding. However, due to the fact that not all class lecturers or public speakers speak good English, you need to listen with great caution as well as selectively. Unfortunately there are educated people who speak very bad English and because of that try as much as you can to identify good speakers so that you can listen to their speeches.

9. Increase your vocabulary
Words are bricks that build a language. A good speaker is the one whose stock of vocabulary is rich and diverse and a wealth of vocabulary comes with reading extensively. Reading widely and diversely makes a person richer in words because every field of knowledge has its own vocabulary. The best way of mastering spoken English is establishing permanent friendship with good dictionaries, including thesauruses. Make good dictionaries your daily companions, particularly dictionaries prepared for students. Some English words are so tricky in usage that it is only a dictionary that helps. Without a good dictionary – preferably an updated one – you cannot master the correct usage of confusing words like water and liquid, neck and throat, sky and heaven, cook and boil, smile and laugh, car and vehicle, sea and ocean, eat and bite – to mention only a few. Nor can you understand how to use correctly collective nouns like staff, family, herd, crew, fleet, and committee – also to cite only a few. Correct spelling and pronunciation are language skills acquired mostly from good dictionaries.
     
10. Master rules of English grammar
The principles of English grammar are different from the grammar of many languages. Grammatical rules are important because they enable a person to understand the basic parts of speech and the guidelines that govern formation of words, phrases, clauses, and sentences that form paragraphs and eventually full-length texts.

To sum up, the hints pointed out here are proven guidelines that will enable you to speak better and more attractive English. They are points you can assimilate or put into practice slowly, constantly, and diligently, as you engage in the art of spoken English.   
    
 By Godson S. Maanga

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Sunday, 11 September 2016

History My Mother





By Godson S. Maanga
 
History, my mother, I salute you! I stand on the top of Kilimanjaro, the highest hill in Africa, to announce your majesty, peculiarity, and awesomeness. Unshakably and immovably, you stand transcendentally, imparting symbolism of historical attainment and confidence – towering above all knights and emperors. You deserve love, honor, and gratitude. Here and abroad, you shine with super motherhood; as well as unique and marvelous cubits of knowledge. From you come myriad streams of guidance, pouring golden instructions and mighty inspiration for stunned humanity. Your age-old stores overflow with experience and perseverance. From the history of history viewpoint, all rivals stay aloof, trembling with fear and cowardice. In your numerous annals, evolution and revolution are flimsy chapters, subject to debate and frequent amendments; and Charles Darwin and Karl Marx are tiny dots overtaken and discredited by time, in the immeasurable and limitless ocean of history.
Thinking critically about you, I fearlessly declare that yours is a job highly commendable! You have carried me along on a long journey, tormented by turbulence and persecution – caused by old and new colonialism. As a gracious mother, you have been feeding me with knowledge and wisdom, through the historical umbilical cord. In your perfect womb, I was mold into what I am, a great admirer of history. You have infused into my person unequaled passion and respect for history. Through history, I am nurtured and guided, and suckling at your golden breasts is indeed a rare opportunity. Your breasts are a pair of precious stones, found nowhere else except in historical paradise. On your grandeur chest are galaxies of pearl-like teats that produce milk creams, with a far-reaching fragrance of the best smelling flowers in the realm of history. Your face shines like the morning star, and each hair on your head is a model of multi-faceted wisdom. Your sparkling eyes resemble splendid lamps with a searching beam of historical radiance.
Interpreting you retrospectively, even geographical mothers sing your praises because you have mothered them all – Mother Africa, Mother Europe, Mother America, Mother Asia, Mother Australia, and Mother Antarctica. In the time immemorial, when no human being was yet born, you mothered all these mothers. That is why there is History of Africa, History of Europe, History of America, History of Asia – History, History, History – the list is endless!
My mother, history, they despise you. They smear your fame. They say that you are inferior to science – that the scientific theories and principles postulated by great scientists are better than the basic tenets in your fabric. They claim that theories like Gravitation, Relativity and Fermentation are at the top of the ladder of progress but grand topics like History of Africa and World History are indeed at the foot of the ladder. They say that you are so inferior and insignificant that you cannot stand the challenges of Engineering and Nuclear Physics.  They forget that Chemistry and Physics and Biology are all your offspring. You are the one who has given birth to Geometry and Algebra. Without your labor travails, all these branches of science would not have come into existence, and their importance would not have been understood because without history science cannot be understood. Without you, great scientists like Archimedes of Syracuse, Marie Curie, Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, and Albert Einstein would not have been known because they would have remained in the total darkness of unwritten history. It is you, Mother History, who takes great inventors from under the carpet and brings them into visibility and global prominence. Your historical milk has enabled various disciplines of science to grow into what they are. It is you, my mother, who has given birth to the history of all activities witnessed in science, inside and outside science laboratories. Without you, all types of past, present and future mechanization and industrialization are nothing but unknown giants that have not seen the light of day. Without you even astronomical postulations like geocentric and heliocentric theories would have remained closed huts for those who ignore your significance.  
Perched on shaky ground are myopic judges, who underrate your fans and people who teach your greatness and authority. Out there are short-sighted judges who belittle your role and relevance, insisting that those who teach History deserve little salaries or no salaries at all. It is indeed a folly to say that History is an inferior subject. These academic scarecrows argue that priority should be directed to science teachers and not to those who teach things like Paleontology, The history of Scholasticism, Renaissance and the French Revolution, the Mwenemutapa Kingdom, African Liberation Movements and other historical stuff. Dear mother, the chaps who deny your value are indeed shortsighted and unrealistic! No people can know where they are or where they are going if they do not know where they come from. If one does not know one’s mother, one is the most pitiful person under the sky. And a person who says that there are children without mothers is a great liar.
When malicious critics sneer at you I get nausea. I feel like vomiting all the nonsense I hear people talking about you. When insults are heaped on you wrath and vengeance take hold of me, like a bruised tiger – one’s anger becomes peak-high when one’s mother is insulted. Your despisers are as useless as bags of salt that has lost its saltiness. All people who mock your importance and role are hollow scholars – to give them the proper description. They are wayward like a vehicle without a steering wheel and eventually they will shudder with confusion and shame like reeds in a mighty whirlwind.
In your presence, edifices of ignorance and illusion crumble like morning dew. Thanks a hundredfold for disclosing to me great historians – excellent scholars who follow into your footsteps with notable loyalty and determination. In Africa I see Bethuel Ogot who put Kenya and Africa on the world historical map; and Cheikh Anta Diop, whose wide and deep historical investigations have elevated him to the heights of magisterial historians. In Europe, there are Herodotus, the father of history; Thucydides, the scientific historian; and Erik Hobsbawm, the giant historian with irresistible influence on modern historians. In South America, there is brother Walter Rodney who opened people’s eyes to see how Europe and the West at large retards Africa; there is Boris Fausto who gained world fame as an eminent historian; and Ricardo Augusto Caminos, an accomplished Egyptologist with his particular preoccupation on epigraphy and paleography. In North America, I see John Hope Franklin, a first class African American historian; Michael Kammen, the eminent cultural historian who won the Pulitzer Prize for History; and Joyce Oldham Appleby, with her superb knowledge of historiography and a sharp mind in championing Republicanism and Liberalism theories. In Central America there are Carlos Maria de Bustamante who merged history, statesmanship, and journalism into a perfect academic concoction; and Rafael Garcia Granados, who shared accomplished recipes on Mexican history. In Asia, I see Ram Sharan Sharma, a great scholar on Ancient and Medieval India; Aida Yuji, renowned Renaissance specialist; and James T.C. Liu, a leading scholar on the Song Dynasty in China. In Australia there is Geoffrey Bolton, who directed people’s attention to Western Australian History as well as popularizing Australia’s socio-political development from the historical viewpoint; and Sheila Fitzpatrick, a lady historian who excels as a specialist of Modern Russia History. History, my mother, credit and honor to your loyal sons and daughters, who from rooftops declare your glory and grandeur – sons and daughters who are not afraid of being called historians.
Day and night you stand in front of me like a huge mirror – reflecting human misdeeds, from ancestors of the distant past. With a down-to-earth language, you depict to me the factors underlying gigantic social-cultural and politico-economic evils: justification of enslavement and maltreatment of blacks; discrimination and exploitation of non-whites; the sexual and racial humiliation of black people; and nowadays systematic torture and wiping out people of African origin. Dear mother, you give me genuine pre-warning, that a new wave of the scramble for Africa is back full swing. Camouflaging their insatiable proboscises in business partnership as well as in bread-for-Africa donations, Western hounds (hungrier and shrewder than they were at the Berlin Conference in 1884/85) are on mass treks into Africa – to plunder, to exploit, to grab, to enslave, to pollute, to kill. Once in Africa, they prepare fertile ground for rape, divorce, coups, tax evasion, poaching, and moral decadence. My mother, history, from you I learn that egocentric foreign exploiters, operating with crooked arms entitled ‘multinationals’, come with hidden motives: splitting African families; supplying weapons that engineer ethnic clashes; transforming Africa into a filthy dustbin for industrial wastes from the West; trafficking hoodwinked Africans into clandestine destinations overseas; siphoning Africa’s natural resources, and causing havoc in African countries as it is evident in North Africa.      
History, my mother, the nature of living forever is truly yours – you are neither ephemeral nor mortal. All humans will come and go, leaving you back as strong and healthy as ever. For the history assassins who announce your demise, you can only die as a result of their distorted thoughts. And if you die in their misguided minds you will never rot. If you rot in the eyes of these felons you will never stink. And if you stink it is because the nostrils of their minds are dead. And if they bury you insisting that you smell, they will indeed be crazy – it is only madmen who bury a nice-smelling flower like you, dear mother. History, my mother, long live! Long live! Long live! Glory, and power and dominion are yours, forever and ever!

Image Source: sonc.dvrlists.com
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Thursday, 11 August 2016

Patriotic Response


By Godson S. Maanga


Dear AK, 

In your interesting essay entitled “The 10 most well-known countries in Africa” (The Guardian, Thursday 14 July 2016, p. 8) you excluded Tanzania which should have come first in your list of 10 best countries in Africa. In a list of ten, if not five, most important countries in Africa Tanzania should be included due to the following undeniable facts:

  1. Tanzania has the famous Olduvai Gorge, the historical site where the couple paleontologists, Louis and Mary Leakey, excavated some of the oldest fossils in human history – the Zinjanthropus boisei and Homo Habilis, hominids dated between 1.75 and 2 million years ago.
  2. Tanzania has Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa and the second highest in the world, after Everest.
  3. Tanzania has Ngorongoro Crater, one of the world’s wonders and the only wild game habitat with tree-climbing lions.
  4. Tanzania, at Kihansi, has species of frogs that are not found anywhere else in the world.
  5. Tanzania has some of the best national parks and game reserves in the world, including Serengeti which way back in 1959 compelled Bernhard Grzimek (the stunned German Zoologist) to declare to the world that “Serengeti will not die” and to date, Serengeti is still alive.
  6. Tanzania produces Tanzanite, the only country in the world that contains these precious stones.
  7. Tanzania’s western territorial boundary goes through Lake Tanganyika (the lake that bears the country’s former name), the longest and the deepest lake in Africa and the second deepest in the world, after Lake Baikal in Russia.
  8. The legendary Rift Valley divides into two branches in southern Tanzania, at the northern tip of Lake Nyasa.
  9. Tanzania has Oldonyo Lengai, one of the awesome active volcanoes in the world.
  10. Tanzania has streams and rivers that pour their waters into Lake Victoria, the beginning of the legendary River Nile, the river without which even the Egypt you have ranked first would be a mere desert.
  11. Tanzania has produced Mr. Bert Shenkland, one of the best car rally drivers during the East African Safari  and it has also produced Mr. Philbert Bayi, one of the best athletes in the world.
  12. Compared to most of her neighbors, Tanzania is a very peaceful country, nicknamed ‘The Island of Peace’, characterized by her ‘Harbor of Peace’ (Dar- es- Salaam).
  13. Tanzania is the only country in Africa with a stable political union (i.e. the Tanzania Mainland-Zanzibar Union) which completes 52 years in 2016.
  14. Tanzania is the home country for two international figures (Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim and Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro) who in different capacities have worked with UN very successfully.
  15. Tanzania has contributed enormously to the liberation of many countries in Africa, including South Africa that you have ranked second in your list. Most liberation movements had bases of operation in Tanzania.
  16. To crown everything, Tanzania was first led by Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, one of the best statesmen in the world, historically remembered as the Ujamaa architect and politically revered as the ‘Father of the Nation’.
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