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The dominance of language


Due to pervasive nature of politics to control lives, language has from time to time been used to control speakers.

When many people gather and they happen to speak in different tongues, one language is used to unite them in order to overcome the Tower of Babel. Unfortunately, the selection and election of one dialect leads to division if not taken care of well.

An illustration showing how language barrier affects effective communication. Photo/COURTESY

I have watched many local and international documentaries and seen how producers are left to writing subheads below the screens to show a translation of what is being aired.

At times, I watch an international interview pitting two speakers and the interviewee bluntly refuses to speak the so called "international language" and goes ahead and seeks the services of an interpreter.

But most of these utter defiance is caused by the nature in how the “international languages” lord it over their cultures to those they perceive as lowly and minute.

Language is used to identify and promote a certain culture and tradition. But when it used at an expense of another culture, it is an abuse.

I still find it odd and colonial to use words in African culture that are designed to lower esteem of residents of particular places. I recently called out a speaker who asked another “Umetoka reserve?”


You see, the word was used to show backwardness and demean the location. It is what enslavement left of Africans. That the division of areas in terms of race sent Africans to “reserves” and Europeans (Britain) and Asians to towns. Then the former were supposed to be dominated and be put down. Pathetic.

I still do not get it when locals import everything including benchmarking on what they have still been doing better than the rest. Is it benchmarking or identity crisis masked in lame leisure for justifying per diems at the expense of taxpayer and nothing being implemented after exotic visits?

Sadly, some locals still do not promote their own languages. They dump their indigenous tongues in order to be accepted or to be recognized.  As  I was poring over the internet, I came across a local debate asking netizens why they ditched their own language when they go far away from own inhabitants or when inside the said localities but still being comfortable to ditch one’s language and being okay with being jeopardized in the new normal of mediocrity and lack of originality.

I still believe in the ethos that make us Africans and I am not a peace with what negates that reality. And that includes being at peace with one’s skin and seeking to grow territories rather than making your language and culture inferior at the expense of another- for worse. Not good.


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