NEWS FOR MID AUGUST 2007
This is having to be a quick greeting and report due to my having internet problems at this end.
In the last two weeks we have been moving between classes and students of Yala and Siaya Theological Centres, first closing classes, then visiting homes of students. It has been an encouraging and 'successful' time. It has been a privilege to have been a part of a team of about six moving from place to place with this assignment. Other good news - is that we now have three new people at various stages of preparation for taking up teaching positions.
The next two or three weeks should be more relaxed, until in September we are into opening new teaching terms. One particular assignment that I have before September - is to prepare to teach New Testament Greek!
Below are some thoughts that came to me in the course of moving between villages and spending time with local people over the last 2 weeks ...
Best wishes, Jim
Languages that people know are extremely complex entities. The experiences that a community goes through constantly adds to their complexity. Languages reflect the people that use them - physically, socially, spiritually and so on. It is through this complexity, amazingly, that people learn and know how to communicate intimately and organise and enjoy their lives.
A foreign language is not a substitution of different sounds for existing words, but an introduction of a system of communication that is logically very different and rooted in an unknown culture and way of life. Communication in a foreign language at depth is possible - unless or until that language is appropriated by a people to make it their own. Until this happens, imposition of a foreign language amounts to mandatory incompetence as meanings hang in the air.
Such substitution of foreign for indigenous sound systems (languages) has become the norm for 'formal' activities in much of Africa. European languages cannot be 'owned' by African people as long as they remain rooted elsewhere. Their use leaves vast gaps in the communication process. Hence their spread adds to incompetence over the continent. Pray that such forced imposition of incompetence cease, and people be allowed and enabled to communicate freely. Ironically it is international and supposedly compassionate bodies such as the UN and aid agencies that are using their financial might to so force incompetence onto African peoples. (The MDP (Millennium Development Project) is a recent example. It is attempting to force people into universal primary education. The MDP does not insist that primary education should be via a language that children understand. Instead international funds are being used to wrench children away from their own people's and customs, to be left hanging in a meaningless ether, knowing that from thereon they are increasingly dependent for their very lives on the whim of the distant foreigners who are imposing this foreign system.)
Attacking a people's language by imposing a foreign alternative that mandatorises incompetence is a serious strike at the very essence of what it is to be a human community. Animal-like features can substitute for human ones in the course of such degradation. Surely there needs to be a cease to the (effectivelly because of foreign subsidy) forced imposition of incompetising tongues onto Africa?