Since the independence of Cameroon in 1960 and the adoption of French and English as official and educational languages, there have been several attempts to include the indigenous languages in the educational curriculum. The aim of this paper is to identify some of the major factors that have made education in native Cameroonian languages unsuccessful in the past thirty years. The focus is not on such obvious factors as standardization and alphabetization that require technical and professional input, but rather on those socio-pragmatic factors that impede the acceptance of one indigenous language instead of another or facilitate the classification of native languages as landmarks of primitivism. The following questions bring to light certain socio-pragmatic realities that prioritize the use of non-African or ex-colonial languages as media of education: Why is it that speaking a native Cameroonian language in public is often countered by the seemingly slang expression "Do not call the rain"? Why was the study of some indigenous languages banned at the university in the 1970s? Why are native languages called national languages only in name and not in status or functions? This paper seeks answers for these questions.
Selected Proceedings of the 36th Annual Conference on African Linguistics: Shifting the Center of Africanism in Language Politics and Economic Globalization
edited by Olaoba F. Arasanyin and Michael A. Pemberton
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