03.03.2024 Author: Mohamed Lamine KABA

African languages as a combat weapon to shrink the sphere of influence of the unipolarist West in Africa

African languages as a combat weapon to shrink the sphere of influence of the unipolarist West in Africa

By way of introduction, language is a real factor in the manifestation of the cultural sovereignty of a people and an excellent instrument of diplomacy, allowing a State to acquire a dynamic force on the world stage. To be convinced, since the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989 and the end of the Cold War in 1991, the world’s hegemonic powers have positioned themselves at the forefront of the international scene, each with their own national language. In this context of hostility, geostrategic positioning and expansion of spheres of influence between the superpowers, Africa was kept in the framework of the Berlin conference from November 15, 1884 to February 26, 1885 during which, the powers European colonialists fought to control the interior of the continent. Language is a powerful lever for maintaining this pattern to this day.

It is in this journey of world political history that the former colonial powers designed, in their respective languages, all-out training programs imposed on their former colonies in order to perpetuate their multidimensional domination. This is how African languages, including written ones, were relegated to the status of patois of little importance. These programs, designed with a logic of subhumanization of the African people, largely contribute to the subjugation of generations of men and women of Africa since contact with the European mission and expedition to explore the deep lands of the continent. Which makes the cultural domination of the peoples of Africa, the daughter of the civilizing mission led on the continent by the imperialist powers, notably England, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Italy.

After decades of use of these colonial languages both as official languages and as languages of instruction in African States, it emerges from the examination which results from this use of them in internal political affairs and external of these, that African education systems have not achieved the performance desired by the people at the grassroots. This insufficient performance of national education systems has a negative impact on the performance of public administration in African states. It is to respond to this social, political, economic and cultural challenge that we are proposing to African leaders the introduction of national languages into primary (nursery and elementary), secondary (middle and high school) education programs and academic (first cycle, second cycle and third cycle).

In the following lines, we will attempt, with complete objectivity, to demonstrate the importance of the introduction of African languages into primary, secondary and university education programs in the fight against mental alienation and then, we will discuss the impact of this on the strategic and diplomatic positioning of Africa on the world political scene.

Importance of African languages in the reform of the overall African education system and the fight against mental alienation of the people of Africa

Africa lagging behind in world history. A people without culture is a people who are destined to fade away under the effect of the shock of cultures. Because a people identifies and recognizes itself by its cultural and civilizational identity. To be convinced, the annals of the political history of international relations indicate the clash of cultures between the West and the East as a factor which, for a long time, has led humanity to catastrophe. That is, Pan-Germanism versus Pan-Slavism. The mutation of this clash of cultures is leading today to the proliferation of hybrid war, which necessarily also calls for hybrid peace. In other words, proxy wars or proxy wars with allies, as in the case of the Russian Federation’s special military operation in Ukraine, which began on 24 February 2022. The neo-Nazis who have come to power in Ukraine have begun the process of ousting the Russian language from various spheres of state and public life in Donbas (Eastern Ukraine), where Russian has been spoken since the ancient times of Kievan Rus. The ban on the Russian language was accompanied by terror against its speakers, against the Russian Orthodox Church, where services were conducted in the Russian language. The Russian President explained that he had decided to launch a special military operation in the interests of the residents of Donbas, who had become victims of “genocide on the part of the Kiev regime”.

Thus, the military interventions of the United States of America in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Palestine (always in complicity with Israel, France and NATO) and many others throughout the world, have generated and continue to generate negative repercussions on the stability of African institutions. However, guided by the spirit of multipolarism and committed to helping African states recover from Western domination and manipulation, the Russian Federation has established itself as a pole of protest against the unipolar world order imposed on the rest of the world. by the United States. Hence, the transposition of proxy war to the African continent. What role can African languages play in the fight against this mental alienation of Africans from the global West?

Language being a powerful lever for the manifestation of the cultural and civilizational identity of a people, African languages must replace the languages inherited from colonization to stop the siren of neocolonialism on the continent. They could allow Africans to access the light of science which is not the prerogative of any people, and therefore, impersonal and accessible to all peoples of the world. From all common sense, the promotion and valorization of these could certainly reverse the trend of the teachings of servitude contained in the programs developed under the expertise of Westerners and imposed on Africa to give a distant future to neocolonialism on the continent. African languages therefore appear to be factors in accelerating and stimulating the social, political, economic, cultural, scientific, technical and technological progress of African States. The pride of being and feeling African is there, especially since all the world powers use their own languages. Eloquent proof that colonial languages slow down the development process in Africa.

Impact of the promotion, enhancement and use of African languages in African affairs on the strategic and diplomatic positioning of Africa on the global political scene

Based on the diplomatic trilogy (Soft-power, Hard-power and Smart-power), language emerges as a fundamental instrument, without which we would not be talking about diplomacy. The Vienna Conventions on diplomatic relations of 1961 and on consular relations of 1964 give a special place to language in the dynamics of the world scene. This means that each country, with the exception of African countries (which still remain in the 21st century attached to the colonial languages of subjugation), uses its own language in bilateral and multilateral international negotiations. One cannot walk on one’s head, feet in the air, and pretend to compete in a race, with someone who walks with one’s feet exactly placed on the ground. This better explains the tragic consequences of colonial languages on the geopolitical and geostrategic positioning of Africa on the international scene.

From the above, it is up to Africa’s political leaders to understand this situation which has only lasted, and to make a courageous choice to replace the languages inherited from colonization with African languages. Because African languages are part of the values that define the African and without which, there would be no African. Assimilating is not bad in itself, but assimilating is the worst thing that could happen to a people.

In conclusion, African languages constitute a great weapon that Africans are called upon to use to completely get rid of the hybridization in which they are immersed and change the configuration of the global political scene, carving out an enviable place for themselves. African lands contain the strategic resources the world needs to function. Linguistic diplomacy, accompanied by Soft-power, Hard-power and Smart-power, constitutes an accelerating lever for social, political, economic, cultural, scientific, technical and technological progress in Africa. The salvation of Africans lies there, and Russia offers the guarantee of this profound change in African societies! So, dare to innovate!


Mohamed Lamine KABA ‒ expert in geopolitics of governance and regional integration, Institute of Governance, Humanities and Social Sciences, Pan-African University, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook

Related articles: