Some time ago, I came up with this hashtag on Twitter: #PromoteAfricanLanguages. Following this Afro-centric wave, I have finally found pride in what is supposed to be my native tongue, Bamanankan (or Bamana).
My parents have always spoken to me in Bamana but I have always replied in Italian. Now, with the help of dictionaries, songs and films, I'm trying to speak it myself.
Coming from a multi-linguistic background, it's a shame that I am able to fluently communicate in four European languages and can't even properly speak in my own.
I love languages and I understand their strength and power.
My country, Mali, was colonised by France and she set up 'la Francophonie'. 'La Francophonie' is a system aimed at encouraging, promoting and re-enforcing the use of the French language in French colonies. It is so important to France that she has 17 ministeries in place who exclusively deal with the promotion of their tongue.
Language controls thoughts, and if you speak the coloniser's language, you will ultimately think like them and be their agents. Mental slavery.
The key to de-colonising our minds is to re-discover our beautiful African tongues and exchange them between ourselves.
With time I think we've grown a bit lazy because French and English are so acessible and already established. It'll take a while before we do the same with our languages but we must do it. I certainly am not here to see our tongues disappear.
It starts with school reforms, where children as young as three learn the first and second most-spoken language in their country. Statesmen should refuse to have French, English, Spanish and Portuguese as their official languages and set up linguae francae for each geographical region.
Instead of letting pride divide us and tell us that we won't use other African languages, we should embrace our diversity and stop believing that only European languages are beautiful and worthy of learning and speaking.
When I meet another African anywhere in the world I should be able to communicate with them in one of our tongues.
We should see #PromoteAfricanLanguages as something that glues African people together and let us discover and love each other more.
It starts with us and it will continue with our children and our children's children.
An ka kan ka di, u cɛ ka ŋi. Our languages are beautiful.
Aw yaada. Be proud.
(If you're on Twitter, I strongly encourage you to use the #PromoteAfricanLanguages hashtag and share the beauty of your language).