An endangered language is defined as a language that is at a risk of falling out of use as its speakers die out or shift to another language. Many African speakers have shifted to other languages, mostly foreign languages and many African indigenous languages are on the brink of being endangered, nearing extinction. How African governments save these endangered African indigenous languages?
In a continent of 55 countries and over 2,000 languages, it is shocking that the official languages predominantly used are foreign languages. It is even worse that the medium of instruction in learning institutions are foreign languages. The marginalization of indigenous languages leaves many of the African languages without a role to play.
For a language to survive, it must have a defined and clear role that it plays in the society. It could be used as the language of the immediate community to communicate, which could as well be the mother tongue. It could be used as the language of wider communication, (a language used by people as a medium of communication across language or cultural barriers), which is the case for example with lingua franca. It could be used as the language of religion, for example Arabic in the Koran.
With the lack of a clearly defined role, a language tends to get less used. When a language has fewer speakers, the language eventually dies (language death). Due to language shift, when speakers shift from using one language to another, either due to economic gains or other reasons, the language becomes endangered, and if not protected, it will eventually die.
Savusa Series ~ Rozenberg Publishers ~ 2007 ~ ISBN 978 90 5170 949 0 – Soon complete online
Henk van den Heuvel – Introduction. Prophecies and Protests ~ Signifiers of Afrocentric Management Discourse
1. Lovemore Mbigi – A Vision of African Management and African Leadership: A Southern African Perspective
2. Luchien Karsten – Manufacturing Management Concepts: The Ubuntu Case
3. Heinz Kimmerle – Ubuntu and Communalism in African Philosophy and Art
4. David Weir – The Scope for Arab and Islamic Influences on an Emerging ‘Afrocentric Management’
5. Mzamo P. Mangaliso & Nomazengele A. Mangaliso – Unleashing the Synergistic Effects of Ubuntu: Observations from South Africa
6. Peter E. Franks – Managing in a Rural Context: Notes from the Frontier
7. Jan Boessenkool & Henk J. van Rinsum – Eurocentric versus Afrocentric Approaches: Management Thinking Beyond Dichotomies?
8. Mzamo Mangaliso & Lisa van de Bunt – Contextualising Ubuntu in the Glocal Management Discourse
Since the early 1990s, dominant management discourse in South Africa has been contested by a locally emergent perspective that has come to be known as ‘African management’. It is doubtless still a rather marginal perspective, but one could argue it is a rather influential one. Over the years, African management has received quite some media attention.[i] Presently, a number of South African firms strongly sympathise with Afrocentric approaches, and actually make efforts to implement their principles. Eskom Holdings Limited is a case in point, which is contributing about 50 per cent of the total energy production in Africa with its approximately 32,000 employees, operating in 30 countries on the African continent. This ‘public enterprise’ that happens to be ‘Africa’s largest electricity utility’, has been undertaking bold initiatives to institutionalise its ‘African Business Leadership’ vision, illustrating a contemporary appropriation of ‘African management’ philosophy. Another example may be First National Bank (FNB).[ii] For several years, Mike Boon of Vulindlela Network has been actively involved in an organisational transformation initiative to change FNB’s organisational culture. Boon, who is the author of The African Way: The power of interactive leadership, is considered a renowned author on ‘African management’ issues (Boon 1996). Peet van der Walt, chief executive of FNB Delivery – also the man who approached Boon for this grand operation – stated that the initiative has met with overwhelming success (Sunday Times 28 April 2002). Eskom and FNB are two of the better-known illustrations, but several other organisations could be mentioned that are drawn towards to Afrocentric perspectives. Of course, we should not forget about the past experiences of Cashbuild, a wholesale company in building materials that was extensively described by Albert Koopman:
… we took up the challenge to change – really change – our business so that our people would see a different reality. And that would change their perception. […] We knew that our workforce was alienated from our system (they never understood it in the first place and never reaped the benefits from it either) and that we had to do a mighty good job to bring them into our business as ‘co-owners’. How else could they start believing in our business other than by reaping direct benefits from it? (Koopman; Nasser et al. 1987)
Overall, however, the dominant management and leadership style in South Africa is still mostly described as ‘western’. Usually, South African management is not only typified as ‘western’, but also as ‘North European’, ‘Eurocentric’, ‘British’, and ‘Anglo-Saxon’, or even as ‘American’.[iii] These terms are rarely well-defined, or differences clearly explained. There seems to be a consensus however, that British influence was amongst the strongest, and was assumed to have lasting effects. Textbooks and handbooks that are used in universities and business schools in South Africa are primarily written either by American or European authors, or else by local authors who write in a similar ‘mainstream’ tradition. An Afrocentric perspective could be a response to the felt need for ‘a contextualised approach’ to management and organisation in South Africa; at least that is how the issue was approached initially.
There is a body of literature on ‘African management’ (e.g. Boon 1996; Lessem and Nussbaum 1996; Mbigi 2006; 1997) and on management and organisation on the African continent (e.g. Blunt and Jones 1992; Jackson 2004; Kennedy 1988; Wohlgemuth, Carlsson et al. 1998). However, no book has yet brought together advocates of Afrocentric management approaches, practitioners, and academics, to analyse and contemplate on this fascinating and rapidly changing subject in a joint effort. Our focus is on the ‘African management’ discourse as a South African phenomenon, more precisely as an Africanist vision (or visions) on management and organisation. Read more
During my efforts to set up dialogues between Western and African philosophies, I have singled out quite a number of subjects on which such dialogues are useful and necessary. Recently I have stated in an essay that three themes in the African way of thought have become especially important for me:
1.1 The basic concept of vital force, differing from the basic concept of being, which is prevalent in Western philosophy;
1.2. The prevailing role of the community, differing from the predominantly individualistic thinking in the West;
1.3. The belief in spirits, differing from the scientific and rationalistic way of thought, which is prevalent in Western philosophy (Kimmerle 2001: 5).
In these fields of philosophical thought there are contributions from African philosophers, which differ in a very characteristic way from Western thinking. Therefore in a dialogue on these themes a special enrichment of Western philosophy is possible. In the following text I want to clarify this possibility by concentrating on two notions, which have a specific meaning in the context of African philosophy. To discuss the notions of ubuntu and communalism means working out some important aspects of the second theme. The community spirit in African theory and practice is philosophically concentrated in notions such as ubuntu and communalism. But the concept of vital force, which is mentioned in the first theme, will play a certain role, too. We find the stem –ntu, which expresses the concept of vital force in many Bantu-languages, also in ubu–ntu. For a more detailed explanation of ubuntu, I will depend mainly on Mogobe B. Ramose’s book, which gives the most comprehensive explanation of the philosophical impact of this notion (Ramose 1999). The concept of communalism is explained in the context of the political philosophy of Leopold S. Senghor and other political leaders of African countries in the struggle for independence (Senghor 1964). A vehement critic of that theory is a Kenyan political scientist, V.G. Simiyu (Simiyu 1987). For a philosophical evaluation of this controversy I will refer to the articles and books of Maurice Tschiamalenga Ntumba, Joseph M. Nyasani, and Kwame Gyekye, dealing with the relation between person and community (Ntumba 1985 and 1988; Nyasani 1989; Gyekye 1989 and 1997).
Prophecies And Protests ~ Eurocentric Versus Afrocentric Approaches: Management Thinking Beyond Dichotomies?
In 2003 one of the authors of this article visited a historically disadvantaged university in South Africa where a colleague – a well known South African specialist on ubuntu – lectured in the Philosophy department at that time. The author gave a presentation on Genomics and Africa in one of the lecture rooms of the School of Molecular and Life Sciences of this university. On the wall outside the lecture hall there was a show case, containing a brochure of the school that stated:
The school of molecular and life sciences strives to be an internationally recognised afrocentric centre of excellence in biotechnology, arid zone studies, and related disciplines.
The author was struck by the use of the word ‘afrocentric’. Surely, molecular biology as such cannot be Afrocentric. Or can it? In Cell Biology International 2001, an article written by Barry Fabian was published. The title of his article was Cellular ubuntu: Umntu Ngumntu Ngabanye Abantu, and other problems for cell biologists in the new millennium. Fabian looked at the self-organisation of developing cells. He noted that the complexity of cells is not only related to the cell itself but also to the functional whole of cells leading to an ordered operating system. Fabian concluded: ‘To this end, cell and developmental biologists must continue to honour and explore the adage that “a cell only becomes a cell through other cells”’. So ‘molecular ubuntu’ in the metaphoric sense of the word is possible after all.
Afrocentricity is a concept that has gained popularity both in Africa and among African-Americans in North America. In this article we will first focus on the problems with regard to the definition of this concept. We will then argue that the popularity of the – loosely defined – concept is probably related to its metaphoric power, constructing an opposition to Eurocentric, and creating its own authenticity. We will try to demonstrate that this construction of opposition and authenticity, i.e. this construction of identity, can potentially mask other – possibly more relevant – dichotomies, notably the dichotomy between the rich and the poor.
Afrocentric: A definition problem
Trying to answer the question what afrocentric management is about, will undoubtedly induce problems of definition. Generally speaking, we find the term afrocentric difficult to handle because a clear and unambiguous definition of the concept seems to lack. Are we, for instance, talking about an African Afrocentrism or perhaps an African-American Afrocentrism, or are they both the same?
Afrocentricity is a concept that has a long history. It has been the subject of many discussions among African-American scholars in the United States for many years already. There is a wealth of literature related to this subject. One of its major advocates is the African-American scholar Molefi K. Asante. The Department of African American Studies of Temple University, where Asante has been working for many years, has been a leading place in spreading this concept. However, the concept of Afrocentricity has met with severe criticism from scholars, including Stephen Howe in his Afrocentrism: Mythical pasts and imagined homes (1999). Read more
Hannah Arendt wrote The Origins of Totalitarianism in 1949, by which time the world had been confronted with evidence of the Nazi apparatus of terror and destruction. The revelations of the atrocities were met with a high degree of incredulous probing despite a considerable body of evidence and a vast caché of recorded images. The individual capacity for comprehension was overwhelmed, and the nature and extent of these programmes added to the surreal nature of the revelations. In the case of the dedicated death camps of the so-called Aktion Reinhard, comparatively sparse documentation and very low survival rates obscured their significance in the immediate post-war years. The remaining death camps, Majdanek and Auschwitz, were both captured virtually intact. They were thus widely reported, whereas public knowledge of Auschwitz was already widespread in Germany and the Allied countries during the war.[i] In the case of Auschwitz, the evidence was lodged in still largely intact and meticulous archives. Nonetheless it had the effect of throwing into relief the machinery of destruction rather than its anonymous victims, for the extermination system had not only eliminated human biological life but had also systematically expunged cumulative life histories and any trace of prior existence whatsoever, ending with the destruction of almost all traces of the dedicated extermination camps themselves, just prior to the Soviet invasion.