This paper offers a critical analysis of African language policies and practices that reflect neo-colonialism after over half a century of political independence from several European countries (Belgium, Britain, Germany, and Portugal). The study reviews two often cited sociolinguistic theories, viz., Myer-Scotton's (1993) "Elite Closure Theory" and Laitin's (1992) "Strategic Game Theory," that claim to explain such language policy outcomes. Based on available research, the paper argues that none of these theories is applicable to most of the African states (34/54) that have retained the colonial language policies, because the assumptions made by both theories have no empirical basis. They are, instead, shown to be predicated on mere assumptions and anecdotal evidence. In view of this finding, the paper offers the theory of ukolonia that was initially proposed in a preliminary fashion in a previous study (Bokamba 2007). The paper maintains that ukolonia is a better theory because it is founded on both historical precedents and documentable behaviors of African politicians.
Selected Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference on African Linguistics: African Languages and Linguistics Today
edited by Eyamba G. Bokamba, Ryan K. Shosted, and Bezza Tesfaw Ayalew
Table of contents