6 November 2015

Namibia: African Languages As a Medium of Instruction Laughable

Dr Charles Mubita's article titled "Indigenous Languages are Fundamental to Development" in New Era could have been some kind of joke, because there is no formal African education that Africans can boast about.

Do indigenous African languages even have their own writing characters, alphabets, or are Dr Mubita and the pro-indigenous African language crew still planning to borrow the colonial alphabetical characters? This is the reason I say the idea is a non-starter and that Dr Mubita is living in a fantasy world?

For the likes of Dr Mubita must know that the Chinese, Arabs, Russians and Indians have their own alphabetical characters. Their languages are well developed to the extent that one cannot compare them with any indigenous language in Namibia.

Surprisingly, Dr Mubita can easily label people against such an idea as "... a brainwashed bunch of colonial apologists". Does he even have a plan on how Namibians can navigate with the purported illusion? I guess not, but playing with rhetoric!

Africans, whoever they are, must come to terms with the reality and stop living in the dream world. The formal education that many African countries have embraced in management, science, and technology is all of Western education, the colonial powers.

And for countries like Zimbabwe to turn 180 degrees in introducing African languages by replacing English as a medium of instruction is laughable - cheap political scores. Zimbabweans are known to be highly educated and very proficient in the English language - just like their president, Robert Mugabe, who at times sounds very British.

If there was any country to emulate, Namibians must stay away from Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe that was once a flourishing African country has been brought down to its knees by over-zealous and power-hungry politicians. Politicians that lack a better vision for their country.

Whatever anti-Western educational policy the Zimbabwean government is up to will never do the country any good, but will once more show what President Robert Mugabe's government has become - chasing the wind to make a political statement.

Zimbabwe, a country that is breaking into pieces, how can it gamble with its own education system that has been hailed as one of the best in Africa? The Zimbabwean education system is best because it's rooted in the British education system.

Today is not the time to start undoing the good Namibia's official language has done in uniting and benefiting the nation. No one has belittled our indigenous African languages, but to bring them to the English standard is just impossible. For Namibia, some languages have never been introduced in the print media, let alone be taught in classes - even in elementary school.

For Namibia, which language would be accepted as the medium of instruction in schools - at regional and national level? It will be a chaotic mess that would create animosity and division. Such division has caused civil wars and political unrest in many African countries.

Namibians must not shoot themselves in the foot! A reason why one would term any advocates of the idea as "suicidal". Zimbabwe, Ghana and Tanzania plus any copycats will fail and destroy the little their respective countries have achieved, because the future of any state lies in having an educated citizenry.

There is no need to run away from reality - English has become the dominant language on planet earth, especially for countries Namibia does business with. Even the Chinese, Arabs, Russians and Indians communicate with Namibians in English - isn't that good enough?

The truth is that the vocabulary of many African languages, especially in Namibia, is so limited that people will have to invest so much of the country's resources just to have a few books on the shelves. Almost every day many Namibians cannot finish a sentence in their vernacular language without throwing in the English or Afrikaans word.

Instead of attempting to reinvent the wheel, Namibians and the pro-indigenous language crew must talk of real development and the best use of limited resources for the good of the country than to start running in circles.

Overall, opposing the pro-indigenous language crew does not mean that Namibians and other African countries must not develop their indigenous languages, but must be very realistic. People must stop living in a fools' paradise!

Namibia

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