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How The English Language Influenced African Literature.

1258 words - 5 pages

The use of the English language plays a crucial and dominant role in African literature. In contemporary African literature the use of English is often the key element for success as an African writer. This enables them to express their views across a larger area of today's global world. However writing in English instead of their native tongues may come at a high price for these African writers. By them replacing their native languages with English could eventually lead to the eradication of their native tongues. The aim of this essay is to address the following key elements which influence the role of English in African literature. Colonization played a leading role in placing English at the forefront of African literature. English can be viewed as a 'necessary evil', especially by most of those African writers who did not inherit the English language.The English language forms the core of African literature, throughout most parts of Africa. This is often evident in our everyday experiences. For example, the majority of the educational institutes in Africa, use English as a medium for engaging in learning activities. English has long been the language of politics. Furthermore, in the media and in literature, English is clearly the dominant language.In order for us to gain an understanding as to why English is the dominate language in African literature we need to address the main factor which has placed English at the centre of African literature. The effects of colonialism had the most influence over this situation.In 1884, Europe divided the African countries into separate colonies and 'shaped' the African nations under their colonial powers. These separate colonies were classified according to the languages of Europe, English- speaking, Portuguese-speaking and French-speaking African countries.Colonialism controlled and limited the use of African languages by imposing negative and stereotypical views upon these African languages. This is clearly stated by S.N.Dlamini..Another interpretation of the use of the Zulu language comes from its association with illiteracy and ignorance. This interpretation was historic, and a typical example of how British colonisation and a British education system impacted on language use. With colonialism, African languages were downgraded, and the language of the colonising country, English became the language of commerce, education and an instrument with which to measure knowledge(Dlamini:2005:16)The use of English in African literature can most definitely be viewed as a necessary evil. On the one hand, the English language plays a fundamental part in many aspects of communication. For instance, those African writers who choose to write in English can express their opinions, views, experiences and the like, across a more global scale. On the other hand, it's a different scenario altogether for those whom have had to acquire English as their second language. Obviously, people would generally feel more...

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