Kalamazoo College’s African studies program invites everyone to the public lecture, “African Languages as Literary Medium: Prospects and Challenges.” Dr. Abdou Ngom (Cheik Anta Diop University, Senegal) will deliver the address on Wednesday, May 11, at 4:30 p.m. in the Mandelle Hall Olmsted Room. The event is free and open to the public.
“The lecture addresses the distribution of indigenous languages in Africa, the negative impact of colonization on the promotion of indigenous languages, and the difficult choice made by governments regarding their official languages,” said Ngom. Ngom will discuss the controversial issue of the literary medium for African writers, especially the relationships between language and cultural identity. “The matter of authenticity and language (indigenous or non-indigenous) involves very difficult and interesting questions,” he said. For example, is literature written in European languages authentic African literature? Should any literature written by an African scholar be considered African literature? What type of readership do African writers have in mind when writing literature and why? What are the main challenges posed by African literature written in indigenous languages? How does literature written in foreign languages affect African indigenous languages? “The lecture,” said Joseph Bangura, associate professor of history and director of the African studies program, “seeks to address these questions.”