I have mentioned my Senegalese origins in almost every other post this year, so to speak. What can I say? I am a proud Senegalese, which means I will use every opportunity to mention Senegal. Moreover, I always remind my readers that in Senegal we speak french. I had intended this blog to be a bilingual space when language would’t be a barrier, when we discuss african literature. Practically, I had envisioned that even if a book was written in french, spanish or Wolof , I still would be able to discuss it in english. I even did it for a couple of months. What I end up creating was a blog who caters only to the english-speaking Africans. I know they are the majority of Africa’s 1 billion. But, I end up alienating french-speaking people, especially those from Senegal. They would love to participate in the various discussions happening here, however, since they are not that fluent in English, they are effectively excluded from the conversation.
After several discussions with people around me, I have decided to launch UNDER THE NEEM TREE SENEGAL. Essentially, the new blog will be in the same format as in the old one, the only difference being that I will be strictly discussing books by Senegalese authors on that platform. Senegal have a very vibrant and rich community of writers – who only writes, reads and speaks in french – it would be very unfair to feature their work only in english. Since they wouldn’t be able to thoroughly read it or share it with their readership.
For every book, by a Senegalese author, I read, I will now include a link to a second post and, possibly, interview with the same author in French on UNDER THE NEEM TREE SENEGAL blog.
I will still discuss books in english as usual here . However, for an exhaustive discussion of the work in French, people will have to visit the Senegal version of the blog. Meanwhile, UNDER THE NEEM TREE will continue to discuss books about Africa or by African authors in english.
Now on another register, I wonder how we will achieve unity in Africa. There is obviously a barrier language! And we are not even talking about local languages. I have already decided to learn another one or two african languages, however I know plenty of Africans and Senegalese who resist that notion. They refuse to learn the language of another ethnic group in their own country, let alone a language from another country.
It is clear that before you learn another language , you should master your own native language. However, I have and will always advocated for incorporating local languages in the curriculum in primary or secondary school. I attend a private christian school run by sisters. And in my school, we study french in elementary school; then in secondary school, we started english and, optionally, Latin. Towards the end of secondary school, we study a third language of our choice. You could choose between spanish, dutch, russian, portugese…you name it.
Clearly, we do have the capacity to learn new languages. Why not start with one or two local languages ( different from yours of course) in secondary school instead of latin. Later on, one or two african languages could be incorporated in the curriculum.
It would be a much more effective tool of integration that anything that has ever been tried before.
Just a quick reminder of the Senegalese books I have discussed in this blog so far:
- The death row by Saer Cissé
- Zeyna by Aissatou Cissé
- L’Afrique dans la politique étrangère Indienne (The New ambitions of New- Delhi towards Africa by Alioune Ndiaye)
- Du Baobab au Saguro (From the Baobab to the Saguro) by Rahmatou Seck Samb
- So long a letter Mariama Ba
- La nuit de L’imoko ( The Imoko Night) by Boubacar Boris Diop
Just for fun, if you ever go to Senegal here are 5 things you have to do!
- Visit Goree Island
- Visit the Pink lake
- Visit South of the country – Casamance
- Visit the little coast and the Islands of Sine-Saloum
- Visit the snake Island or The birds park
The launch date for UNDER THE NEEM TREE will be announced in early 2014 on Facebook.