I am ashamed to write in Anglophone in order to discuss with Africans the matter of language, but I do so in the same spirit as the African Americans who walked to work for a year, not for themselves but in order that their children do not suffer the same deprivations. I am well aware writing in Anglophone to communicate with Africans perpetuates the status quo that endorses groups of humanity that cannot communicate except through Anglophone or Francophone. I am equally aware of the entertainment Europeans get when Africans talk to each other in distorted Anglophone or Francophone for lack of a common language.
The debates concerning language which “educated” Africans have engaged in so far confirm Robin Walker’s observations which he made in 2006. He writes “The profile of Black history is still low and astounding levels of ignorance persist.”
Without information we lack knowledge and without it we do not have the wisdom with which to urgue with competence. We need all three in order to debate and discuss. The first thing to understand is that Africans were rendered imbecile for 400 years, by the very people from whom we borrow the use of their language in order that we communicate. Up till 1968, the year Martin Luther King was killed, the Africans in America were fighting to be allowed to get a decent education. The education system that was allowed them at that time is the very same continued in Africa.
Prof. Cheikh Anta Diop writes “The climate of alienation finally deeply affected the personality of the Negro, especially the educated black who had had an opportunity to become conscious of world opinion about him and his people. It often happens that the Negro intellectual loses confidence in his own possibilities and in those of his race to such an extent that, despite the validity of (evidence of Recovered Black African History Data) it will still not be astonishing if some of us are still unable to believe that Blacks really played the earliest civilising role in the world.
The first president of Senegal Leopold Senghor observed that all they (Africans) wanted was to look like Black Frenchmen, the African language and hair made them so ashamed (same as today judging by the hairstyles of African women, and a ban on teaching African languages in schools).
I joined this group at a point when subscribers are debating an African language. We owe it to the whole African nation. The Africans are people of faith. Most believe in the Prophets of old, thus follow in the footsteps of the Son of Mary, Christo and the one that came after him Muhammad (SAW). What languages did these speak?
Not our mother tongues. Then there is the matter of original parents which all who profess faith believe in. What language did they speak? This must be the foundation from which we start our discourse. With information comes knowledge, from knowledge we get wisdom and intelligence.
Here are a few facts most certainly not found in history books in Africa, which might help put us on the right track, just so no African ever thinks of another as immigrant or inferior.
1. The human race is of African origin. The oldest known skeletal remains of anatomically modern humans (or homo sapiens) were excavated at sites in East Africa. Human remains were discovered at Omo in Ethiopia that were dated at 195,000 years old, the oldest known in the world. This our ancestor was named Dinquinesh (meaning You are Wonderful) but Europeans named her Lucy from the Beetles song that came out that year. So, are you going to call her Dinquinesh or Lucy? Incidentally, evidence came to light that “Mitochondrial DNAs from 147 people, drawn from five geographic populations have been analysed by restriction mapping. All these mitochondrial DNAs stem from one woman who is postulated to have lived about 200,000, years ago, probably in Africa.” With such knowledge, how can whatever African language is spoken pose a problem?
2. Skeletons of pre-humans have been found in Africa that date back between 4 and 5 million years. The oldest known ancestral type of humanity is thought to have been the Australopithecus ramidus, who lived at least 4.4 million years ago.
3. Africans were the first to organise fishing expeditions 90,000 years ago. At Katanda, a region in northeastern Zaïre (now Congo), was recovered a finely wrought series of harpoon points, all elaborately polished and barbed. Also uncovered was a tool, equally well crafted, believed to be a dagger. The discoveries suggested the existence of an early aquatic or fishing based culture. African children would win medals at Olympics if they grew up feeding information relating their ancestors achievement the same as Europeans do. Imagine, Nigerians dive underwater, and with bucket scoops building sand with which he fills his canoe, rows it to a building site. He does this many times in a day. With knowledge of achievements of his ancestors, why would not such man win Olympic medals? Instead, parents put barriers in children’s way, feeding them on a diet of television in the hope they become European in order to succeed in the world.
4. Africans were the first to engage in mining 43,000 years ago. In 1964 a hematite mine was found in Swaziland at Bomvu Ridge in the Ngwenya mountain range. Ultimately 300,000 artefacts were recovered including thousands of stone-made mining tools. Adrian Boshier, one of the archaeologists on the site, dated the mine to a staggering 43,200 years old. To think that in Congo, Europeans today are mining every kind of resource claiming that Africans have not the knowledge nor technology. Congo Week 2012 is the fifth anniversary of Congo Week and will take place from Sunday, October 14 to Saturday, October 20, 2012. Since 2008, activities are organised for purpose of raising global consciousness about the situation in the Congo and advocate for peace, justice and human dignity in partnership with the Congolese people. Which year did Ugandan neighbours join in solidarity? Ten million Ugandans use mobile phones and many more access computers, little realising the coltan mined in their neighbourhood is a resource Africans have more claim to than the Europeans. Sixty countries organised this year’s Congo Week Activities at more than 300 universities and community campuses. Uganda and Rwanda miss from both lists of universities and campuses. On an individual level, the Ugandans who access internet regularly, many with face book profiles, also fail to subscribe to Friends of Congo website, including spouses.
5. Africans pioneered basic arithmetic 25,000 years ago. The Ishango bone is a tool handle with notches carved into it found in the Ishango region of Zaïre (now called Congo) near Lake Edward. The bone tool was originally thought to have been over 8,000 years old, but a more sensitive recent dating has given dates of 25,000 years old. On the tool are 3 rows of notches. Row 1 shows three notches carved next to six, four carved next to eight, ten carved next to two fives and finally a seven. The 3 and 6, 4 and 8, and 10 and 5, represent the process of doubling. Row 2 shows eleven notches carved next to twenty-one notches, and nineteen notches carved next to nine notches. This represents 10 + 1, 20 + 1, 20 – 1 and 10 – 1. Finally, Row 3 shows eleven notches, thirteen notches, seventeen notches and nineteen notches. 11, 13, 17 and 19 are the prime numbers between 10 and 20.
This is the kind of learning that we have to base on when we discuss matters African, and language in particular. You can subscribe for Black History Studies newsletter, course, or events to educate yourself. Their motto is educate the community to educate themselves. It not about one person getting a degree, getting a job. It is about the community being educated, in matters that concern them, learning to read and write their mother tongue, learning true facts about their ancestors. Robin Walker says history encompasses all disciplines, political, cultural, literature, religion, the social sciences, arts, technology and mathematics.
I will quote the words of Prof John Henrick Clarke to emphasise the importance of debating intelligently concerning an African language, who says “History is the clock that people use to tell them their time of day. It is also a compass that people use to find themselves on the map of human geography. The role of history is to tell a people what they have been, where they have been, what they are and where they are. The most important role that history plays is that it has the function of telling a people where they still must go and what they still must be.”