When Europeans speak, rather disparagingly, of ‘tribal‘ Africa, they either do so with dishonesty or out of inexcusable ignorance of the concept of a tribe and, particularly, Europe’s own tribal formation based on the concept of “nation”. Europe’s nation building was based on a tribal concept. It was a tribal formation through and through. European nations are tribal nations and therefore each European nation represents a European tribe, each with its own tribal, a.k.a national language and customs.
When Africans speak European languages; it never occurs to them – hardly do they realise or few do – that they’re speaking European tribal languages the same way they would speak their own ‘tribal‘ languages, for instance, Igbo, Yoruba, Wolof, Dinka, Nuer, Bari, et cetera. The European, through colonialism and the colonial indoctrination and the process of African mind falsification the European called – and subsequently, the African calls – ‘education’, got (in many ways coerced) Africans to speak his tribal languages by undermining African tribal languages, reducing them to abominable ‘dialects’. The African has, ever since, felt overly proud and prefers (in most instances) to speak European tribal languages to speaking his/her African tribal language(s).
This is mainly because the African, by and through the process of indoctrination and African mind falsification called ‘education’, has been thoroughly ‘educated’ (indoctrinated) to believe and confuse speaking European tribal languages for ‘education’, ‘civilisation’ and ‘modernity’. Consequently, the African, to demonstrate his/her ‘educated’ (indoctrinated) status, will feel no shame speaking European tribal languages at home – in Africa – while speaking to his/her tribe.
While, on the other hand, the European still largely reviles speaking African tribal languages and treats with utter revulsion the sound of African tribal languages whether at home – in Europe – or indeed, when spoken to (and/or addressed) in African tribal languages, even more strangely, whilst in Africa. European superiority, developed out of colonialism, hence, ‘colonial‘ superiority, makes the European, while in Africa, expect to be spoken and/or addressed to by Africans in his/her European tribal languages.
However, the African is proud to have prime time news at home broadcast in European tribal languages; mainly treating this as a mark of ‘modernity’, ‘progress’, ‘development’ – not to mention ‘education’; while relegating his/her (African) tribal language programmes to fringe programmes. While the European, in a few European countries where this is applicable, has introduced news programmes broadcast in African tribal languages; but as fringe programmes on low budget. Terribly under funded, which demonstrates their place in the pecking order of news programme importance and value and, unsurprisingly, almost exclusively run by Africans; not Europeans. But strangely, the African still speaks – and will want to convince himself/herself, and others – of his/her ‘independence’ from European colonialism be it in thought, governance and economic management and/or independence.
The day European national TV and radio channels will allocate prime time news programmes broadcast in African tribal languages, have their nationals sit back comfortably and listen without inundating them with angry complaints; should be the day the African, rather than celebrate ‘independence‘ and/or European normative modernity, reflects deeply on the importance of language: as not merely a medium of (mass) communication but also an essential instrument of power and influence.