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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Globalization and the Role of African Languages for Development


Indigenous African languages are largely eliminated, and marginalized from use. Instead of investing in and using their linguistic, cultural, and human potential, African governments and the elite still continue to channel away their resources and energies into learning 'imperial' languages that are used by a tiny minority of the populations. Against the backdrop of constraining global forces, and Africa's internal problems (wars, repression, and general economic misery), this paper argues that African languages could be the most critical element for Africa's survival, and cultural, educational and economic development. In order for this to happen, however, Africa must invest in this sector of 'cultural economy' as much as it does (should do) in the 'material economy', since both spheres are interrelated and impact on each other.

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