English-oriented ICTs and ethnic language survival strategies in Africa

Oladokun Omojola

Abstract


This paper takes a critical look at information and communication technologies (ICTs) and asserts that the advantages and opportunities which they purportedly offer should not be exaggerated within the context of indigenous populations of Africa, most of which use ICT gadgets and applications that are built into languages alien to them. This scenario is reminiscent of technological determinism which assumes that the target users of ICTs should be able to understand the language in which the technologies are crafted. Unfortunately, the inability of indigenous peoples to adequately comprehend these technologies, as a result of language hindrances, has dramatically eroded the professed socio-economic benefits of ICTs and creates a sore point in the globalisation process, which these technologies drive. Attempted resolution of this colossal deficiency, by a few discerning makers of ICTs, has not succeeded and, in fact, has the potential of complicating the problem. This paper concludes that the solution to the challenge is still feasible within the domain of Afrocomplementarism, which promotes the convergence of indigenous contents and Western technologies. The process should start with local initiatives in developing indigenous languages. By imbuing local and global (such as the Internet) media with indigenous language content, the potential exists for raising awareness amongst ICT producers and encouraging them to develop technologies to accommodate these languages.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5789/3-1-18

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