Harnessing our linguistic heritage for development
Culture can be defined as the total way of life of a given community. It encompasses the economic, political, historical, linguistic, and psychological dimensions of worldcommunities. This being the case, development cannot be measured purely on economic terms. As a concept, development must reflect all areas of human activity (Prah 1993:18). Hence, it not only manifests itself in the economy of any given society but in all other aspects of human existence. Language being the key instrument of communication is the principal means of bringing about development. On the other hand, any exotic technology that has to be used in a given community will not be meaningful if it is couched in foreign languages. The initiators of such technology must take into consideration the indigenous knowledge structures for it to be readily accepted by the localpeople. Thispaper expounds the view that there is no country that can claim to develop by embracing foreign languages, ideologies, or culture. It elucidates the fact that national developments should not be restricted to economic and technological advancement, but that other parameters like language and culture have to be considered. The paper lucidly discusses Afri.ca's linguistic heritage and the quest for development. It inextricably brings out the relationship between the linguistic and cultural base of communities, and the development of modern technology in Africa. Finally, the paper recommends steps that can be taken to incorporate African languages in the mainstream development of the continent, and avenues that can be used to preserve African linguistic heritage.