The Power of Babel: Language and Governance in the African Experience
The debate on the language question in Africa has been on for decades now. Normall y, this discussion is characterised by concerns to do with such aspects as the ideal national, regional and continental language policies, the rivalry between the national and official languages, the choice of the language medium of the African creative writer and other similar issues. The need for the modernization of the African lingua franca including Swahili, Hausa or Amharic has also featured prominently in recent times. However, perhaps, the study under review by well-known African scholars is the first to establish a direct link between the language question and the issue of governance in the African situation. Issued simultaneously in five different countries in Africa, U.S.A and Britain and divided into three major parts, the book, Power of Babel contains thirteen chapters. The chapters attempt to relate language to such societal facets and contemporary concerns as history, race, nationalism, identity, colonialism and liberation, religion, cultural pluralism and individualism, democracy, gender and law. The concluding chapter looks at the role of language in a post-modern world order. In the African context, this perspective dissects the realities, opportunities and challenges of the post-cold war, postapartheid and post-structural adjustment programmes.