English A Weapon of Mass Destruction

His Excellency President Yoweri Kagutta Museveni, the President of the Republic of Uganda, while speaking at the function at the residence of the British High Commissioner in Kampala, for the 2017 Official Birthday celebrations of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and also the 65th anniversary of her reign said:

I am now speaking English. I refer to the British language as a captured weapon we are now employing.

 Yes, English is recognised as the official language of Uganda, meaning de facto that official policies for Uganda are written and debated in English.

The fact, however, that English is the official language of Uganda provides an analytical framework for power dynamics between British culture and by extension global-western culture, on the one hand; and ‘African-Ugandan culture’, on the one hand.

  • Who in Uganda knows English and who doesn’t?
  • How does knowing English impact on one’s enjoyment or not of their right to be heard and to be provided for?
  • Does the English contained in policy documents for Uganda inspire confidence or not in those documents?
  • Does the English contained in policy documents for Uganda inspire confidence or not in the competence of the authors of those documents?
  • Who are the authors of Uganda’s policy documents?
  • Are the authors of Uganda’s policy documents sufficiently knowledgeable about Uganda or not?

Answers to questions such as these will undoubtedly reveal, Mr. President, that NO, English is far from being a weapon that Ugandans have captured and are employing for the good of the majority; but rather it is a weapon through which neo-colonialism sustains and through which rights abuses against the majority of Ugandans are perpetuated. Read a more detailed analysis here.

Photo credit: @KagutaMuseveni on Twitter

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One comment

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