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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0-9

Europhonism, Universities, and the Magic Fountain: The Future of African Literature and Scholarship

Author: Ngugi wa Thiong’o
Organisation: New York University
Publish Date: September 1999
Country: Africa
Sector: Education
Method: Foresight
Theme: Futures
Language: English
Tags: Universities, Language, English, Education systems

The vision of a modern university in Africa began in the 19th century, in particular with James Horton in 1868 and Edward Blyden in 1872. Horton wanted to introduce into Africa "undiluted Western education", where there was no place for the incorporation of African languages, while Blyden wanted the African languages to be a part of Western education in the same way as Latin and Greek. When eventually the first universities were set up in Africa in the 1950s, the Horton vision triumphed, except that where Greek and Latin had been envisioned as the foundation of excellence, English took over. Ironically, one of the biggest achievements of the Horton model was the production of an African literature in English, a literature that was often motivated by the Blydenian vision of positive affirmation of the African image, drawing heavily on the magic fountain of images, proverbs, riddles, and ballads from African languages. However, this literature, called here Europhone African literature, never gives anything back to the people who created the languages and the orature from which it draws so freely. That is why the present author, who turned to Gikuyu for his creative endeavour in 1976, thinks it is time that African scholarship and the universities begin to question the Horton model and its legacy of language policy and practice.
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