Professor Domwini Dabire Kuupole, Former Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast has said to reposition the literature of Africans after the colonial era was critical in the socio-economic advancement of the continent.
He said language played key role in development and was critical in shifting paradigms and facets of human development.
Literature, according to the professor, had been used as a tool to mimic society’s perspective of human dignity or indignity, security or insecurity and socio-cultural development across Africa.
Prof. Kuupole was speaking at the opening of the second West African Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (WAACLALS) conference at Takoradi under the theme: “Re-Thinking Human In/dignity, Human In/Security and Social Development in Africa”.
This year’s theme, builds on the previous theme: “Slavery and Post-Colonial Dis/engagements” to raise the consciousness of Africans on the issues of human dignity, security and social-political development.
Prof. Kuupole said the attitude and character of literature and language academics must promote a common platform of ideas, research, artistic and creative discourse.
He paid tributes to great African writers such as Ayikwei Armah, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Ngugu wa Thiong’o and Ahmadou Kourouma, among others, whose works of literature exposed as well as denounced ills and corruption, which must be eliminated from society to foster equity in society.
He was, however, worried that some creative works of literature and expression of ingenuity landed many great African writers in trouble with their governments or opinion leaders with some becoming hate figures or even on exile.
The former VC said such hostile attitude to literary creativity had no doubt, attenuated writers and affected raison d’etre of the genre.
Going back to the renaissance era, where literature played key role to enlighten society, the professor urged the conference to be akin to the period of rebirth and enlightenment of literature and language in the elimination of human indignity, insecurity and further sustain human dignity, security and social development of Africa.
“The role of literature and language must be kept in the fringes of functional society and play integral part of the post-colonial development paradigm”.
Professor Kuupole reminded that whether Anglophones, Luxophones or Francophones the challenges that confronted the continent had rippling effect on others.
“We must therefore, be concerned with the happenings and developments in our various African countries…this is where I find it very innovative that WAACLALS 2019, has focused on changing the dominant status quo by disengaging language as literary subject and apply it as a tool for addressing pertinent and emerging challenges of our time”.
The professor spoke about cross border crime, political and socio-economic factors as contributors to the intolerant nature of the African to his brother, adding, indiscipline had also resulted in the abuse and pollution of the environment, selfishness and other ill behaviours.
“As Africans, we need to wake up from our slumber, change our attitudes, perceptions, values and particularly our mind-set, if really we are to develop as a people…Our period of enlightenment and rebirth of learning should be now”.
Professor Mpoche Kizitus, Vice Dean for Admissions and Statistics, University of Cameroun said local language usage in the formative stages of children were critical for their development and entreated societies to endeavour to expose and teach children in their local language.
He said the African Continent could boost of hundreds of local languages that must be effectively utilised to harness growth and development.
Prof. Kizitus pointed out that language development must be taken seriously as the basis for identification and development.
Professor Marcel Okhakhu of the University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria and the Chairman for WAACLALS said there was the need for a conscious attempt to revisit and revise some relevant Literature and Language for sustainable development.
He stressed the need for a growth and development plan for the African continent to ensure that the future of the continent could be properly guaranteed.
Professor John Frank Eshun, the VC of the Takoradi Technical University said “Africa must come to the full realisation that it would take its own efforts to develop and not their colonisers”.
“With the birth of independent Africa, we cannot deny the fact that literature has remained an original tool for capturing history, culture and traditional ideas for social interventions”, he added.
He said literature must therefore be utilised as an academic tool to fully promote a new thinking in the African context from interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary perspectives.
Prof. Eshun therefore encouraged the WAACLALS members to engage on variety of themes in language and literature to address African issues.