Renowned Literary Scholar and Writer Professor Ngugiwa Thiong’o says “it is criminal for children to be punished for speaking their mother tongue in school compounds.”
According to the Literary Scholar, the 21st Century African Renaissance will only be achieved if African languages are made more visible by African governments while confronting the metaphysical domination of European languages in Africa.
Delivering the Keynote Address at the official closing of the International Conference on African Studies at University of Ghana, Legon on Saturday, Professor Ngugiwa Thiong’o noted that, Europeans were able to succeed in colonising Africans because they made the speaking of African languages unpopular.
Although no single language – whether European or African – “is inherently more superior than another”, according to Professor Ngugiwa Thiong’o, there is the need for African governments to promote African languages by establishing Bureaus or Ministries of African Languages at both the national and continental levels as the basis of the African renaissance he concluded.
The 3-Day Conference which was on the theme “Revisiting the First International Congress Of Africanists in a Globalised World”, brought together academics from across the globe to deliberate on various issues including the "Contemporary Relevance of Pan Africanism and the Youth , When Culture and Religion meet Politics: What is at Stake for Women’s Citizenship?, Teaching and Researching African Studies, African Studies and National Development, Africa and the Diaspora, Reimagining the Idea of African Traditions, and Adaptations of Indigenous Knowledge".
Commenting on the significance of the conference, a Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Folklore at Indiana University in the USA, Beverly Stoeltje said the conference was intellectually important because, “now it is time for people both scholars and people in public policy and development to come together and to bring perspectives together so that Ghana and Africa can move forward together.”
Some of the other notable speakers at the conference included Dr. Carlos Lopes (United Nations Under Secretary General and Executive Secretary of UN Economic Commission for Africa – UNECA), Professor Fatou Sow (Social Scientist and specialist in gender studies), Professor Ernest Aryeetey (Vice-Chancellor, University of Ghana), Professor Etienne Ehouan Ehile (Secretary-General, Association of African Universities) and Dr. Ebrima Sall (Executive Secretary, Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa – CODESRIA).
Others include Professor Henrietta Mensah Bonsu (LECIAD, University of Ghana), Professor Sara Berry (Johns Hopkins University), Professor Lungisile Ntsebeza (Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town), Professor Jean Allman (Washington University), Professor Elisha Renne (University of Michigan), Professor Dele Layiwola (University of Ibadan) and Professor Heidi Hudson (University of the Free State).
The rest are Professor Garth Stevens (University of the Witswatersrand, South Africa), Professor Kojo Amanor (University of Ghana), Professor Esi Sutherland Addy (Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana), Professor Jacob Gordon (Kwame Nkrumah Chair in African Studies, University of Ghana) and the Director of the of the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana Professor Akosua Adomako Ampofo.
The conference was also used to launch an International Association of African Studies.
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