The role of language in the process of constructing, preserving and reinforcing peace in Africa

Tuesday 6 June 2023

Sadembouo, Etienne, Tadadjeu, Maurice. In Language policy and the promotion of peace, edited by Neville Edward Alexander, Arnulf con Scheliha, 47-58. University of South Africa, 2014.

This chapter discusses the role of language and its relationship to peacebuilding, peacekeeping and consolidating peace in Africa. Specifically, the chapter looks at Cameroon’s language policies and the ways in which it prevents conflict, given the rich linguistic and cultural diversity of the country which could potentially cause grounds for conflict. The chapter starts by providing historical context on the multilingual environment of Cameroon and the inequalities that are present between the languages in its linguistic climate on a geographical, written and spoken level. Proceeding to identify probable sources of conflict between local and foreign languages, the chapter discusses how a research program pioneered by scholars informed the development of Cameroon’s trilingual education policies. The scholars advocated for the inclusion of multiple national languages in the education system. The implementation of this multilingual model allowed for the coexistence of linguistic diversity in Cameroon as well as fostering a sense of national unity. Including local languages in schools, alongside English and French, proved to advance linguistic and cultural fusion, which in turn has fortified peace in Cameroon. The chapter proceeds to set out some parameters for the development of linguistic policies that consider ways to promote peace and prevent conflict, based on the Cameroonian context. This chapter is a good starting point for anyone who is interested in exploring how inclusive language policies in schools can promote peace in a linguistically varied environment. Although the link between language policies and peace could have been developed and discussed more throughout the chapter, the progression leading up to this discussion is clear and easy to follow. The chapter is also self-conscious in identifying further points of investigation to carry on its research. Using the Cameroonian context, the article tracks the development of theory to its implementation in practice, providing a useful case study.


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