Language as a Prerequisite for Development: Perspectives from Sub-Saharan Africa

Wiseman Magwa


The position of former colonial languages such as English, French and Portuguese condemned African languages to a periphery in socio-economic development in Africa. African languages have been stultified and marginalised in the mainstream of the economy, which appears to be one of the reasons for Africa’s underdevelopment. This is predicated on the assumption that language is the key or at the heart of the development process of whatever kind.  The question is, Can Africa achieve stable development when the speakers continue to use languages that appear to hamper the education and communication of the majority? The aim of this article is, therefore, to highlight how indigenous languages can facilitate development in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa. The paper also affirms that development cannot take place in a linguistic vacuum since it is a process that involves the whole society. In conclusion, the author calls for a re-examining of Africa’s development paradigm with a view to mould one which revolves around African cultures and values.


Keywords: Development, Socio-economic Development, Democracy, Language, Indigenous language, Mother tongue, Culture, African language.

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ISSN 2408-770X (Print Version)

ISSN 2408-6231 (Online Version)