PAWA International Colloquium Accra 2017

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UDs Board chair valorizes African Languages

 Accra,UDs/SIC-05/12/17.In a bid to valorize and uphold African languages in the continent’s development agenda, Prof. Beban Sammy Chumbow, Chairperson of the University of Dschang Council and President of the African Academy of Languages of the African Union (AU), on November 6th, 2017 in Accra, Ghana shared his academic and professional knowledge with the Ghanaian population and the World at large at the opening session of an international colloquium. This was on the occasion of the celebration of the 24th International African Writer’s Day organized by the Pan-African Writer’s Association (PAWA). As part of the event was the PAWA Continental colloquiumon the theme “Language, Library and Book Industry: The urgent agenda for Africa’s Destiny” which brought together over 450 participants made up of leading writers from all over Africa and the diaspora, librarians and language arts experts within and outside Africa.The historic colloquium was marked by fruitful moments like the keynote address offered by H.E Nana Addo DankwaAkufo-Addo, President of Ghana.

The President’s outing to this event naturally mobilized the presence of the entire diplomatic representation in Ghana from all continents to the meeting as wellas Ministers and leaders of the social, economic and religious communities in Ghana. Just before the President’s keynote address to open the conference, Emeritus Prof, Beban Sammy Chumbow gave the Key-lecture statement of the conference titled “Which Language for African Literature? Language of the Heart or Language of the Head?” The topic is derived from Mandela’s famous observation: “If you speak to someone in a language he understands, it goes to his head. If youspeak to him in his language it goes to his heart”In his talk, Prof. Chumbow contended that the development and emergence agenda of Africa depends crucially on the development and use of African languages in partnership with the foreign official languages which presently monopolize this role in most countries of Africa. He gave tangible examples to the effect that the exclusive use of official languages (English, French, Portuguese etc.) for Africa’s development initiative, led to the marginalization and exclusion of the majority of Africans, especially the rural population who speak essentially or uniquely an African language.  Using examples of African writers and African languages, he buttressed his ideas and as solutions presented language of the heart (African languages)in partnership with language of the head (official languages)in the short and medium run but favoring languages of the heart ultimately. He buttressed his submission by the historical evidence that no country, no empire,no civilization has ever emerged using only foreign language for it development. Thus, the Greek civilization used Greek, the Roman Empire used Latin, the British Empire used English and the Chinese are using Chinese (Mandarin), etc. In essence, he demonstrated that in the 21st century, the age of ‘knowledge economy,’ economic power is determined and characterized by knowledge production, knowledge dissemination, knowledgeappropriation and knowledge management. Language underlies all these processes and activities of the knowledge industry. Language is power and is therefore at the heart of the development of economic power. His brilliant presentation which greatly enriched the three day colloquium offered him a standing ovation by all present. The event was highly televised and mediatized.

It is worth noting that Emeritus Prof. Beban Sammy Chumbow is a distinguished professor of linguistics whose knowledge is sought-after worldwide to enhance language planning for the enterprise of national development./

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