IN his article, South African political analyst and writer Prince Mashele once wrote; “English is not a mark of intelligence” his argument validate that if English was a mark of intelligence why are there hobos in London? This is critical consciousness, an absolute re-imagination of Africa from the sentiments of oppression and an encounter between African and European linguistic systems in terms of societal value.
Like any other language, English is not a measure of intelligence it is simply a medium of communication and interaction which survives due to successful British colonial expansion globally. Intelligence knows no language; if English was a measure of intellect then history could project Jesus Christ as English. Well known philosophers such as Karl Max, Confucius, Chinua Achebe, Aristotle, Frantz Fanon, John Mbiti and Pythagoras were not English hence it cannot be induced that the English people or rather their language is the mother or a father of intellectuality.
In Africa particularly in Namibia our education systems are built on contradictions due to the so-called official languages of which some are not African such as English. This has helped the English to remain oppressors and use their language as a medium of superior interaction to exploit Africans through uncompromised political agreements and trades. The issue of linguistic superiority and dominance undermines African linguistic systems such that in Namibia not even at university level do students have choices of the medium of instruction; they are only conditioned to English despite the majority having done English only as a second language.
This issue attracted national consciousness among students over the past years. We need a meaningful dialogue in order to place this consciousness into a new perspective that will drive social justice at its best and redefine African philosophies in a new ideological fashion. The domination of European languages as official languages in Africa is a common phenomenon.
From the previous paragraph it can be deduced that Africa and particularly Namibia is linguistically still under colonial influence. This influence can be equated to a genotypical phenomenon in human biology wherein the invisible genes play a pivotal role in human behaviour through genetic inheritance. In Namibia English is product of colonial inheritance and it requires our intellectual sufficiency and fortitude to fearlessly confront this colonial stimulus that affects the advancement of African languages by cutting its influence and make African languages as official languages and reject the hypocrisy of European language domination.
The domination of the English language in Namibia in the next century would mean that Namibia, as still the case, will be spiritually, intellectually or even romantically be dependent on English as a medium to define our identities; this is not comical but rather a repressive state of affair. Let’s learn from instances when English has vandalised advancement of intelligence in Namibia; in primary schools, whether you pass with an A* in Oshindonga, Otjiherero or any other language native to Namibia and scored better in all other subjects but you failed English the rules are such that you may not proceed to the next grade unless pardoned by a teacher or other authorities of the school. In grade 12 English is the biggest obstacle to the university level, with universities minimum requirement being a D or E symbol in English – they do not consider native languages unless otherwise in areas of specialisation e.g. in Education.
This sad episode has placed many leaners in intellectual discomfort in villages and shanty towns becoming gangsters and prostitutes because they are denied entry to university due to English and not by any other language. Those who disagree shall make observations in NAMCOL centres and see how many leaners are improving on their English grades, some are already university students, and some are Government and private sector officials. What is worrying students is the manner in which English has undermined our native languages. Intellect can be demonstrated through English or any other language but it’s not English or any other language which is a measure of intellect. English and intelligence are two different variables; English is a language and it is part of a specific linguistic and lexical system whereas intellect is generally abstract and can be exhibited through any language or lexical systems of any choice, intellect is innate, English not innate and it is learned.
Social justice activist
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015