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African languages in the Diaspora

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While the African continent is known to have over 1500 indigenous languages used and spoken, one wonders how many of those African languages are still used while in the Diaspora. It should be noted that thousands of Africans cross to other continents for various reasons and these include; recreational purposes like tourism or holidays, educational purposes, marriage purposes, work related purposes and Medical purposes to mention the major ones.

According to CNN, estimates by the World Bank say that; there are 39 million Africans, 113 million in the Latin America, 13.6 million in the Caribbean and 3.5 million in Europe alone.

When are the African languages not spoken in the Diaspora?

It is true some generally adapt to the languages of their new habitat and this maybe because of various reasons. There are people who travel solo and do not get to live with relatives or people from their country of origin and therefore meet new people probably belonging to their host country or from foreign countries different from their own. In case the host country has languages different from their own then they either have to learn the new language or rely on the mercies of translators and interpreters. That is why for one to work or study in some countries, they are required to take up a course in the new country’s language before embarking on the journey. For example the Alliance France or Goethe Zentrum centers in various countries teaching the French and German languages respectively.

African languages
African Diaspora

Then there are those ones who travel to new countries at a very young age or are born in foreign countries and when not pressured to learn their language of origin or are not spoken to in their language of origin by their parents then they fully adapt to the language or languages used in the foreign country. An example here is David Kaluuya, a British actor in the Black Panther block Buster who although his parents originate from Uganda in East Africa he doesn’t speak any of the country’s 50 languages.

African langauges
David Kaluuya, British born actor in the Black Panther whose parents originate from Uganda.

Some of the reasons why African languages are spoken in the Diaspora

As for those who speak their mother tongues while in the diaspora, a lot is to be credited and at times it is the parent’s intentional or non-intended actions. There are parents in the diaspora who intentionally speak to their children in their mother tongues right form infancy thus bringing up multi lingual children, then there are parents or older generations in families who do not speak the languages of the foreign country where they live and can only communicate in their mother tongues thus indirectly teaching the children.

There is a tendency of foreigners to forge closely knit communities in the countries where they settle basing on the common fact that they come from the same country and at times have languages in common. This means that every time they meet there are high chances of the indigenous languages being spoken.

Does the African Diaspora love its own Languages?

Of late there are so many Africans living in the diaspora and many of them are known for a particular country or countries and it is here where their local dialects are used. In fact this maybe one of the reasons BBC Africa is enlarging its African Languages broadcasted and their latest addition to Social media are languages form Ethiopia and Eritrea;

Common African languages in the Diaspora include;

Nigerians are known to be almost everywhere on planet earth and can majorly be found in the UK, China with languages like Igbo and Yoruba spoken and Swahili used by many from different African countries like Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Mozambique.

Somalis are dominating Canada and Israel with languages like Somali, Arabic and Oromo

Preserving the positive aspects of culture is crucial for future generations and language is part of it therefore, encouraging and teaching the younger generations is the way to go. It should also be noted that professional translation services are vital when it comes to serious issues.

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