Friday, October 1, 2010

The Urgency for African Languages in HBCU's!

Bowie State University, which is located in Bowie, Maryland, USA, is what you would consider to be a Historically Black College or University (HBCU in short). However, one thing that really bothers me is the lack of choices given to us as students. First off, most of the foreign languages offered here are of European origin. Bowie State has not advertised and advocated the importance of learning African languages. Why? I don't know. Most of the student body is of African descent, yet most of the students would rather learn to speak French and Spanish instead of learning to speak Kiswahili or Yoruba.

In all the HBCU's nationwide, there needs to be people (preferably professors) who make it their responsibility to advocate with all their might the importance of learning an African language. If you do not know your history, you are bound to repeat it. The reality is that most African-Americans do not know their history outside of the United States. Moreover, there seems to be a lack of interest in learning about our brothers and sisters who live on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Part of the reason there is a lack of interest is because of the media and what is portrayed of Africans throughout American media. As European Culture has dominated the world, they've also dehumanized dark-skinned people around the world. Through mass media, they've portrayed that "Africa is the so-called primitive land and its people who live on the other side of the Atlantic are the lowest of the low. How can they be developed if they can't even speak our European languages (that we imposed on them)? Plus they live in huts and walk around barefoot and naked...Why would anyone want to waste their time by traveling there and dealing with those primitive beings?" This is basically how the Western media portrays our brothers and sisters.

The truth will set you free. With that said, most media is full of lies and deceit. We don't have to accept the lies. We don't have to settle for the separation which is currently the result of the evil associated with divide and conquer. First, through African History we are able to learn about who we are and how we are connected worldwide. Next, through languages, we are able to learn how to communicate with our brothers and sisters. And finally, through travel, we are able to see the land of our origin and to reunite with our long lost brothers and sisters. With all this said, it truly makes no sense for an HBCU like Bowie State University (or any other college) to put more emphasis on European languages rather than putting the emphasis on African languages (where it needs to be).

It is sad that with all the major European languages taught at BSU, only one true African language is "provided", and that is Swahili (Kiswahili). It is not taught, but provided. The reason it is not taught is because NOBODY will enroll in the course. Therefore, it is constantly left in the course catalog with no enrollment, semester after semester. One way this problem could be fixed is if more major African languages like Yoruba, Lingala, Zulu, and Amharic were added to the catalog of foreign languages. This would give the school a total of 5 African languages for students to choose from, leaving fair competition between the African languages and the European languages. However, this is not the reality. Moreover, the school's indifference to the situation is not helping either. If little things like this are not fixed in our school, then most of us will continue to remain ignorant of our true identity.