Noted Kenyan scholar, author, and educator Ali A. Mazrui, creator of the groundbreaking PBS series The Africans, teams up with his son Alamin to examine the complexities and contradictions of language and cultural identity on the African continent.
The Mazruis explore the challenges of native African languages surviving in countries where the political, economic, and technological discourses are conducted in Eurocentric languages such as English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. "This linguistic state of affairs," they argue, has resulted from "the failure of African people to be nationalistic enough in linguistic terms." The Power of Babel recounts the history and impact of oral traditions, as well as the influence of Arabic, Christian, and Semitic-based growths in literacy and the imposition of the European concept of the nation-state.
The authors also detail the role African American and Afro-Saxon English speakers could play in "African counter-penetration," using English to better educate the West about Africa. This timely and important treatise also finds room to incorporate discussion of such wide-ranging subject matters as James Baldwin, Frantz Fanon, and the rise of Ebonics. --Eugene Holley Jr.