[lg policy] Kudos to President Akufo-Addo for the Adoption of French as Ghana’s Second Official Language

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Mon Apr 15 11:23:09 EDT 2019

Kudos to President Akufo-Addo for the Adoption of French as Ghana’s Second
Official Language
 Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

[image: Kudos to President Akufo-Addo for the Adoption of French as Ghana’s
Second Official Language]

The resoundingly progressive decision by Ghana’s parliament to staunchly
back President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s successful request to have the
country assume full-membership status of the Organisation Internationale de
la Francophonie or The Francophone Alliance, for short, must be
unreservedly applauded by all adherents of continental African unification
(See “Parliament Backs French As 2nd Language” Modernghana.com 4/5/19). We
must also commend former President John Agyekum-Kufuor who first secured
Associate-Membership status for Ghana in The Francophone Alliance as
relatively far back as 2006. Indeed, one would have expected the present
main opposition National Democratic Congress’ regimes of Presidents John
Evans Atta-Mills, late, and John Dramani Mahama, during the intervening
period between 2009 and 2016, to have progressively capped this most
significant second-language-usage policy began by Mr. Kufuor by now. But,
of course, it is not altogether surprising that absolutely nothing of this
sort had been achieved while these two faux-populist leaders who also
claimed to be left-leaning and unabashed Nkrumacrats, and therefore far
more reliably pan-Africanist than their main pro-Western neoliberal
market-oriented ideological opponents, held the reins of governance.

In theory, the full-status membership of Ghana within The Francophone
Alliance means that, henceforth, both the English and French languages are
going to be taken almost equally seriously as Ghana’s official languages of
business, academic and professional instruction. But, of course, we also
poignantly recognize the fact that achieving parity of usage with the
French-speaking countries, both in the West African sub-region and abroad,
will not be very easy, in grim view of the inescapable fact that over the
past three decades, English, the country’s first
British-colonialist-bequeathed official medium of communication, has
witnessed a precipitous decline in usage quality. Now, what this means is
that adequate funding resources need to be invested in the teaching of the
English language, if qualitative usage of our present lone official
language is not to shamefully fall behind that of the newly introduced
official use of the French language.

I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that the government of President
Emmanuel Macron is going to promptly step up to the proverbial plate to
significantly assist Ghana with the requisite funding resources for the
optimal instruction of the French language in Ghanaian public schools and
colleges. Which equally means that the government of Prime Minister Theresa
May, in London, may very well have to do more than it is presently doing to
facilitate the effective teaching of the English language in its non-native
erstwhile colonial possessions, especially vis-à-vis those former colonials
who have opted to enrich themselves with the assumption of full-status
membership of The Francophone Alliance. In the final analysis, however, it
is the primary non-native beneficiaries of these two European languages
that need to invest adequate resources in the teaching and learning of
these two major international and global languages.

Commenting on this new and visionary Akufo-Addo policy initiative, most of
the 275 or so Ghanaian parliamentarians who participated in the
additional-language usage debate on the august floor of the House seemed to
be facilely and naively fixated on the expanded employment opportunities
that the command of a second major/international language could afford the
teeming numbers of unemployed Ghanaian professionals and recent college
graduates, practically and stunningly forgetting the stark and ineluctable
fact that relatively speaking, the unemployment rate in the Francophone
African countries may, indeed, even be much higher than what presently
prevails in many an Anglophone country like Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra
Leone and The Gambia, among several other Anglophone countries on the
African continent and elsewhere in the Diaspora.

This writer, on the other hand, envisages the full and formal introduction
of the French language into the country as a Second Official Language (SOL)
in terms of readily accessing what business and technology transfer and
cultural contributions the French have to offer Ghanaians and vice-versa.
But there is also the treacherous danger of Ghanaians becoming passive
consumers of other people’s cultures and civilizations, instead of taking
this prime opportunity to also export our own culture, art and cuisine, for
some ready examples, into the Francophone community. Even more important
but scandalously left out of the discussion on the august floor of the
House, was the imperative need for the development of Ghana’s major local
languages, in particular the Akan/Twi language, Dagomba, Ga, Ewe and
several other significant languages, if Ghanaians and Africans, in general,
are not to be tragically written out of global history and civilization
anytime soon.

In our time, however, we have also painfully witnessed the primitive
maltreatment of French-speaking North Africans in France. Now, what the
foregoing sentence means is that Ghanaians need to trim down our
expectations vis-à-vis both the potential and practical benefits from the
acquisition of French as the country’s SOL realistically down to size, as
it were.

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
April 6, 2019
E-mail: okoampaahoofe at optimum.net


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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