Decolonizing Our Culture: Why Every Pan-African Should Learn Swahili

Decolonizing Our Culture: Why Every Pan-African Should Learn Swahili

Every member of the Pan-African Alliance is required to learn Swahili – history has shown us that language can be a powerful tool to unify – or to separate a people.

During the Muslim conquest of North Africa from 647 to 709 A.D. , conquered nations were forced to convert to Islam. As part of their conversion, their native languages were destroyed and replaced with Arabic. From the destruction of original cultures came a unified Islamic front.

Fast forward to today, and because all Muslims share a common language, no matter where one Muslim is from, he or she is able to communicate with other Muslims in their area.

As another example, for almost 250 years China looked a lot like Africa looks today. Small territories with their own languages, currencies, and cultures were constantly at war with their neighbors. This period – called the Warring States period – claimed the lives of more than 10 Million people.

It wasn’t until 221 BC that a man named Emperor Qin brought an end to the wars by conquering all 8 of the Warring States in just 9 short years. He then unified those states under one legal system, within one border, with one currency and one language.

Fast forward 2000 years, and the unity that Emperor Qin created in China still stands today.

How Language In Africa Became A Tool Of Conquest

The two examples above illustrate the fact that without a common language, there can be no unity.

In the case of Africa, where there is division among languages, hell ensues.

Read Also: 78 Swahili Language Words And Phrases For The Classroom

When the great tribulation known as the Maafa descended on African peoples, European invaders conquered and colonized nearly the entire African continent. As part of their divide and conquer strategy, groups of Africans that shared historical unity were forced apart by new political borders and colonial languages.

Decolonizing Our Culture: Why Every Pan-African Should Learn Swahili

With those new languages and divisions came new cultures and new conflicts. Africans who were now under French rule were used as soldiers to fight against Africans who were now under German rule. And with neither group able to speak to the other, conflicts between the two raged unchecked.

The divisions created by alien colonizers – be they Arabic, Europeans, or Chinese – last to this very day.

See Also: Chinese Supremacy In Africa: 35 Schools To Teach Chinese In Uganda

The Nuer speaking Black folk of South Sudan have been persecuted by the Arabic speakers of North Sudan for decades. The English speakers in the Northern part of Cameroon have been cut off from the rest of the world by French speakers in the southern part of the country as a form of political retribution.

Decolonizing Our Culture: Why Every Pan-African Should Learn Swahili

In both South Sudan and Cameroon, it seems the languages of the colonizers continue to divide Africans. And so, it must be through language that we can achieve our re-unification and sovereignty.

Why Learning Swahili Is Critical For Black Unity

Learn Swahili OnlineTo bring a common awareness to our collective condition, Africans across the globe must unify under one language. English speaking African- Americans are ignorant of news coming out of Francophone Africa. Portuguese speaking Brazilians struggle to express solidarity with Xhosa tribesmen in Southern Africa. And Black men and women currently enslaved in Arabic countries are powerless to articulate their plight to non-Arabic speaking Africans.

However, if the African Diaspora were to unify under one language, all 1.3 Billion Blacks around the world would no longer be isolated from one another.

If linguistic unity is critical to Pan-Africanism, then the only language robust enough to achieve such unity is Swahili. Here is why:

• There are anywhere from 50 million to over 100 million Kiswahili speakers. That means with a population of 1.2 Billion, more than 10 percent of the African population already shares the same language.
• Three out of the 54 African nations have already declared Kiswahili their official language, and it is spoken widely in Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Rwanda and Burundi, Somalia, and the Comoro Islands.
• Swahili is easy to learn. The tone that a word is spoken in does not change the meaning of the word (as is the case with Igbo and other Niger-Congo Languages). Verb conjugation is straight forward, and the language uses the noun class system.

Where To Start Learning Swahili

The common language of the people must reflect their true nature and origin, which is why both European and Arabic languages cannot serve the African diaspora. When African Arabic speakers encounter African English speakers, genocide ensues.

Read also: One Language For One People: The 3 Best Ways To Learn Swahili Online For Beginners

Most of the members of our organization use an app called Duolingo to learn Swahili. It is one of the easiest apps out there and is available on both Apple and Android devices.

Unfortunately, with the Duolingo app you cannot actually hear Kiswahili being spoken. If you want to be able to hear and speak the language, our members use 17 Minute Languages.

Learn Swahili Online

As we move towards the birth of a new movement and a new nation, it is imperative that we decolonize our language. No matter where you are and what you speak, embrace Kiswahili. Learn it with the resources we have suggested above.

Learn Swahili and teach Swahili it in your organizations, after school programs, and at home. Our future depends on it!

Written by Asad Malik

Asad is the Executive Officer of The Pan-African Alliance, and the Founder of United Black America.

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