THE EFFECT OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE IN ZAMBIA
By Mkandaŵile Benson
There is need for a metal revolution and a political will for Zambians to progress effectively in all areas. Zambia in broad sense is a national language handicapped country. Language handcap is any systematic deficiency in the way people speak, listen, read, write or sign that interferes with their ability to communicate will their peers. Most Zambians, especially in rural areas are not able to express themselves property in English language due to the fact that they have not mastered it for lack of exposure. This strongly disempower Zambians for active participation in the democratic and developmental process of the country. On the other hand, we cannot fairly claim that we are educating Zambians using a medium of instruction which they do not fully understand. The result of this is that the outcome is poor in both theory and practicality.
No greater crime can be committed against a nation than to deprive it of its own language because the people’s Merale Spirit is expressed through the language they understand. W can only develop and promote peace through the languages of the people. We can better understand our people and boost on languages through local languages as they are vehicles of people’s culture worldwide. The government o the republic of Zambia declared English as language of instruction and official use at independence because there was need to promote omits since English was considered a neutral language that does not belong to any linguistic or ethnic grouping in Zambia. However, English has politically united the people of Zambia by preventing the conflicts that would have obviously risen if the government had choose one of the Zambia languages as national official.
Nevertheless, what English has done to Zambians today is severe destruction. It has been disempowering and challenging Zambia’s slowly since independence from Primary School to higher levels of education, from home to higher institutions of socialisation, from junior offices to senior offices, from villages to towns and cities, from children to adults. English has destroyed the realm of freedom and sovereignty among Zambians. It has linguistically disempowered citizens for massive mobilisation and active participation in economic, social, political and cultural. English has divided Zambians into classes: Those with the ability to speak and use it fluently. Those who try to utter and understand some words and finally those are unable to speak it. Those in the first class use English as an ideology to suppress others. They have occupied influential positions in political, social and other areas of life. Some responsible citizens fail to occupy some political and other positions because of English language. In areas where English is mandatory, people fail to report various matters concerning their areas.
The truth shall set Zambia free. African languages are the basis for African development. Whatever it takes, no country can develop using the linguistic medium of another country. Japan developed through local resources. South Africa is widely expanding through the diversification and pluralisation of indigenous languages. Similarly be facilitated through local languages at a national level.
Most Zambians do not fully understand what a constitution is. They do not a national level because there is no platform for them. The constitutional documents are mostly in English without any translation to indigenous languages. The national budget and other national affairs address those who speak English and not local languages. By virtual of that, English is barrier to the affairs of the country. English has affect all the domains in the nation. Pupils fail to understand certain concepts and subjects because of the medium of instruction. Some teachers fail to explain to pupils what certain terminologies mean because there is a hinderous in the medium of instruction. Translation interpretation is never 100% perfect therefore, many citizens have been sent to prison on the basis of language.
As a nation, we have neglected the importance of local languages by not enforcing them in the educational system. Yet a good number of Zambians are alienating from the Zambian culture as they cannot express themselves properly in indigenous languages. Today, the young generation and some families are on the cross road searching for their real identity. English has brought threats to such generations and families over cultural heritage of the country.
It would make more sense to optionalise English language in schools and media stations. It should be treated equally with other Zambian languages.
No matter how good we neglect our mother languages, they are still with us in whatever we do. They are important because
a) They make us identify the various linguistic groupings within and outside country.
b) They influence the way we pronounce foreign words as we take them locally..
However, the advantages of local languages are diverse.
The advantages of promoting local languages are that:
1) Promote development process of the country. This will empower Zambians to participate effectively in economic, cultural, social and political matters of the country as they will be free to express themselves in local languages.
2) A country is nothing without its culture and local indigenous languages. Language is a vehicle of culture. Families and children who seem to be alienating from the Zambian culture my be retained at once.
3) Local languages promote and develop peace among citizens as they will be speaking one language, one tongue and one country.
4) Language policy can determine to what extent its citizenry will be mobilised and involved in the democratic process.
5) There will be easy access to information in local languages for Zambians.
6) Promoting local languages at national level will provide opportunity for generations to learn Zambian local languages.
7) Will provide chance for foreigners and tourists to learn and interact with Zambians freely as they will be using languages of the majority.
8) Promotion of local languages will allow Zambians to elect responsible and caring leaders in the country.
9) Local languages will break the linguistic classes among Zambians and promote unity. All language problems will end in Zambia.
10) Promoting local languages will promote more employment for Zambians because more books will need to be written in local languages and media stations will need more people to translate various informations.
All these can be effective if they are reflected in a language policy and citizens can effectively take part in democratic and developmental process of the country only if they are linguistically empowered in indigenous local languages.