African philosophy and the politics of language in Africa

Brand G. (2011)


Much can be learnt from African philosophy about the politics of language on the continent. At the same time African philosophers as participants in a practice with its own power dimensions and social impact also need to reflect on the languages they use to develop and communicate their insights. On the one hand, arguments drawn from African philosophy constitute a strong case for the need for multilingual policies-policies that promote the learning of languages among the citizenry (person-related multilingualism) and the use of more than one or two languages in public domains (domain-related multilingualism)-in African states. On the other, the conclusion of such arguments suggests that African philosophers should also use African languages in their academic work. This will not only add to the depth and quality of philosophical reflection in Africa, but also to its responsiveness to its context. Moreover, a multilingual philosophical practice will contribute to the broader political project of multilingualism aimed at greater accessibility, equality and political participation for Africans in their own societies. © 2011 University of South Africa Press.

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