Namibia, like many other African countries, has a language policy of official monolingualism with a foreign language, in this case English, serving as the sole official language. Considering that Namibia is, also like the majority of the African countries, a highly multilingual nation and has an English-speaking population of less than 1%, the reasoning behind the adoption of such a policy seems less than obvious. This paper thus examines the process by which a monolingual policy was determined for Namibia and finds that this type of policy actually followed as an implicit byproduct of an ideologically influenced movement to make English the official language. The paper then analyzes the major implications of Namibia's English-only policy, concluding that it is not English that is problematic for the country, but rather the policy stipulating it as the only official language that has detrimental implications. Based on these findings, the study argues for a revision of Namibia's current language policy, calling for all of its national languages to be promoted to official status and allocated appropriate roles in the country's public domains.
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