[lg policy] bibitem: The Zairian Language Policy and its Effect on the Literatures in National Languages

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jul 13 14:08:51 UTC 2010

The Zairian Language Policy and its Effect on the Literatures in
National Languages
Makim M. Mputubwele
Lane College


The existence of hundreds of languages in the Democratic Republic of
Congo has rendered the language policy a very critical issue from the
time this huge territory became a private possession of the Belgian
King Leopold II, through its colonization by Belgium and to today.
Each administration responded to this question in a different way. The
interest in local languages was instrumental in the emergence of four
national linguae francae, namely, Kikongo, Lingala, Swahili, and
Tshiluba. After the country's independence, a presidential ordinance
made French the official language, and this situation has remained
unchanged. The prominence of French nega-tively affected the growth of
literature in national languages, especially during the postcolonial
era. The timid evolution the literature in national languages
experienced previously and during the first few years after Congo's
independence was finally stopped when President Mobutu banned
missionaries' periodicals, the only major outlet for writings in
national languages.


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