Language and the Media in Africa: Between the Old Empire and the New

Alamin Mazrui

in Media and Identity in Africa

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780748635221
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653010 | DOI:
Language and the Media in Africa: Between the Old Empire and the New

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Peter Mwaura, former director of the School of Journalism of the University of Nairobi, has argued that ‘if the communication media [in Africa] are to be part of our culture as indeed all effective and meaningful communication should be – then they must use the local language[s] of our culture’. He concludes that there is a real sense in which ‘the medium of communication is also the message’. This position is one which is widely held in African intellectual circles, and has sometimes led to the conclusion that the ‘domination of a people's language by languages of the colonizing nations was critical to the domination of the mental universe of the colonized’. The postcolonial hold that European languages inherited from the colonial legacy continue to have on African nations is often seen as a continuation of the cultural and intellectual domination by the West. Against this backdrop, the 2000 Asmara Declaration on African languages concluded that ‘African languages are essential for the decolonization of African minds and for the African Renaissance’. This chapter interrogates the terms of this debate as it relates to the media in Africa specifically, drawing examples from both the old empire of European colonial rule and the new empire of a globalising world under the hegemony of the United States.

Keywords: European languages; African languages; decolonisation; African media; colonial rule; globalisation

Chapter.  5659 words. 

Subjects: African Studies

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