Advertisement

International Review of Education

, Volume 64, Issue 6, pp 823–843 | Cite as

Community elders’ narrative accounts of ubuntu translanguaging: Learning and teaching in African education

  • Leketi MakalelaEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

While South Africa has been lauded as a multilingual country that accorded official status to 11 languages, the academic notion of multilingualism has always been conceived from a monolingual perspective. Monolingual ideologies, which inadvertently favoured European languages to the detriment of local languages, were passed on to African countries through the occupation, division and colonisation of African territory by European powers in the early 1880s. Surprisingly, however, to date hardly any research has investigated African multilingualism predating the colonial era, or analysed pre-colonial narratives to offer alternative insights into African sociolinguistic and cultural realities. Aiming to shed some light on indigenous ways of knowing and the nature of translingual practices in local South African communities, the author of this article presents a study which collected and analysed storied narratives of six community elders – a glimpse into the pre-colonial period. The results of this study show that there is still a prevalent cultural competence of ubuntu (humanity towards others), which is highly relevant for teaching and learning indigenous knowledge and for identity formation among speakers of Bantu languages. Using a framework of ubuntu translanguaging to account for complex multilingual encounters, the author contends that a preferred literacy methodology for learners should be porous and value interdependence in tandem with ancient plural value systems and indigenous ways of knowing. Recommendations for future research involving narrative accounts of African community elders and practical applications in classroom encounters are considered at the end of the article.

Keywords

ubuntu translanguaging sub-Saharan multilingualism monolingual bias indigenous ways of knowing literacy narratives 

Résumé

Comptes rendus narratifs de séniors sur le translanguaging (transapprentissage linguistique) ubuntu : apprendre et enseigner dans l’éducation africaine – Si l’Afrique du Sud est applaudie pour son multilinguisme et le statut officiel qu’elle a accordé à 11 langues, la notion scientifique de multilinguisime a toujours été conçue à partir d’une vue monolingue. Les idéologies monolingues, qui favorisèrent inconsciemment les langues européennes au détriment des langues locales, furent diffusées dans les pays d’Afrique à travers l’occupation, la partition et la colonisation au début des années 1880 du continent noir par les puissances européennes. Il est néanmoins étonnant que presque aucune étude n’ait jusqu’à aujourd’hui exploré le multilinguisme antérieur à l’ère coloniale en Afrique, ou analysé les récits pré-coloniaux, pour proposer d’autres réflexions sur les réalités sociolinguistiques et culturelles du continent. Dans le but d’éclairer quelque peu les formes autochtones de savoir et la nature des pratiques translinguales dans les communautés locales d’Afrique du Sud, l’auteur de l’article présente une étude consistant à collecter auprès de six aînés de ces communautés pour les analyser leurs récits chargés d’histoire – donnant un aperçu de la période pré-coloniale. Les résultats de cette étude révèlent qu’il existe toujours une compétence culturelle courante de l’ubuntu (humanisme envers les autres), très importante pour enseigner et apprendre le savoir autochtone ainsi que pour la construction de l’identité chez les locuteurs des langues bantoues. Au moyen d’un cadre de translanguaging ubuntu permettant de représenter les situations multilingues complexes, l’auteur avance qu’une méthodologie d’alphabétisation privilégiée par les apprenants doit être perméable et valoriser une interdépendance en tandem avec les anciens systèmes de valeurs et formes autochtones de savoir. Il émet à la fin de l’article des recommandations pour des études ultérieures intégrant des comptes rendus narratifs d’aînés de communautés africaines ainsi que des applications pratiques lors de rencontres dans les classes.

Notes

Acknowledgements

The data collection discussed in this article was part of my larger project on indigenous literacies which was funded by the National Research Foundation of South Africa.

References

  1. Baker, C. (2011). Foundations of bilingual education and bilingualism (4th ed.). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  2. Bakhtin, M. M. (1981). The dialogic imagination: Four essays. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  3. Brock-Utne, B. (2015). Language, literacy and democracy in Africa. In L. Makalela (Ed.), New directions on language and literacy education for multilingual classrooms in Africa (pp. 15–33). Cape Town: Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society (CASAS).Google Scholar
  4. Brock-Utne, B. (2016). The ubuntu paradigm in curriculum work, language of instruction and assessment. International Review of Education, 62(1), 29–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Candlin, C. N., & Hyland, K. (2014). Writing: Texts, processes and practices. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Carruthers, J. (2006). Mapungubwe: An historical and contemporary analysis of a hybrid heritage cultural landscape. Koedoe – African Protected Area Conservation and Science, 49(1), 1–13.Google Scholar
  7. Cox, G. (1992). African empires and civilization: Ancient and medieval. New York: Pan African Publishing.Google Scholar
  8. Davidson, B. (1992). The black man’s burden: Africa and the curse of the nation-state. Oxford: James Currey.Google Scholar
  9. Dowling, T., & Krause, L. (2018). “Ndifuna imeaning yakhe”: Translingual morphology in English teaching in a South African township classroom. International Journal of Multilingualism, DOI: 10.1080/14790718.2017.1419475.Google Scholar
  10. Foucher, P. (1937). Mapungubwe: Ancient Bantu civilization on the Limpopo. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Freire, P. (1972). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  12. Garcia, O. (2009). Bilingual education in the 21st century: A global perspective. Miden, MA: Wiley/Blackwell.Google Scholar
  13. Garcia, O. (2011). From language garden to sustainable languaging: Bilingual education in a global world. Perspectives, 34(1), 5–9.Google Scholar
  14. Garcia, O., & Wei, L. (2014). Translanguaging: Language, bilingualism and education. London: Palgrave Pivot.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gee, J. P. (2013). The era of anti-education: Creating smarter students through digital learning. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  16. Hornberger, N. H. (Ed.). (2012). Indigenous literacies in the Americas: Language planning from the bottom up. Contributions to the Sociology of Language, (Vol. 75). New York: Walter de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  17. Hyland, K. (2014). Activity and evaluation: Reporting practices in academic writing. In J. Flowerdew (Ed.), Academic discourse (pp. 125–140). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Israel, B. A., Schulz, A. J., Parker, E. A., & Becker, A. B. (2001). Community-based participatory research: Policy recommendations for promoting a partnership approach in health research. Education for Health, 14(2), 182–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Khosa, R. (2013). Let Africa lead: African transformational leadership for 21st century business. Johannesburg: Vezubuntu.Google Scholar
  20. Lane, S. (2010). Valuing all pathways to literacy: An action research project with indigenous early childhood students. Practically Primary, 15(2), 7–10.Google Scholar
  21. Makalela, L. (2005). We speak eleven tongues: Reconstructing multilingualism in South Africa. In B. Brock-Utne & R. Hopson (Eds.), Languages of instruction for African Emancipation: Focus on postcolonial contexts and considerations (pp. 147–174). Cape Town/Dar es Salaam: Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society (CASAS)/Mkuki n Nyota Publishers.Google Scholar
  22. Makalela, L. (2014). Teaching indigenous African languages to speakers of other African languages: The effects of translanguaging for multilingual development. In C. Van der Walt & L. Hibbert (Eds.), Multilingual teaching and learning in Higher Education in South Africa (pp. 88–104). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  23. Makalela, L. (2015). Moving out of linguistic boxes: The effects of translanguaging for multilingual classrooms. Language and education, 29(3), 200–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Makalela, L. (2016). Ubuntu translanguaging: An alternative framework for complex multilingual encounters. Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, 34(3), 187–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Makalela, L. (Ed.). (2018). Shifting lenses: Multilanguaging, decolonization and education in the global South. Cape Town: Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society (CASAS).Google Scholar
  26. Makoni, S. (2003). From misinvention to disinvention of language: Multilingualism and the South African Constitution. In S. Makoni, G. Smithermann, A. Ball, & A. Spears (Eds.), Black linguistics: Language, society and politics in Africa and the Americas (pp. 132–149). London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  27. Makoni, S., & Pennycook, A. (Eds.). (2007). Disinventing and reconstituting languages. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  28. Matolino, B., & Kwindingwi, W. (2013). The end of ubuntu. South African Journal of Philosophy, 32(2), 197–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. May, S. (Ed.). (2014). The multilingual turn: Implications for SLA, TESOL and Bilingual Education. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  30. Mignolo, W. (2000). Local histories/Global designs: Coloniality, subaltern knowledges, and border thinking. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Motlhaka, H., & Makalela, L. (2016). Translanguaging in an academic writing class: Implications for a dialogic pedagogy. Southern African Linguistics and Applied Languages Studies, 34(3), 251–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Olaniyan, T., & Quayson, A. (Eds.). (2007). African literature: An anthology of criticism and theory. London: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  33. Ouane, A., & Glanz, C. (2010). Why and how Africa should invest in African languages and multilingual education: An evidence- and practise-based policy advocacy brief. Hamburg: UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL). Retrieved 25 September 2018 from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001886/188642e.pdf.Google Scholar
  34. Oviave, J. O. (2016). How to rediscover the ubuntu paradigm in education. International Review of Education, 62(1), 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Perry, K. (2012). What is literacy? – A critical overview of sociocultural perspectives. Journal of Language and Literacy Education, 8(1), 50–71.Google Scholar
  36. Probyn, M. (2001). Teachers’ voices: Teachers’ reflections on learning and teaching through the medium of English as an additional language in South Africa. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 4(4), 249–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Raum, O. F. (1993). Chaga childhood: A description of indigenous education in an east African tribe. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  38. Richardson, R. N. (2008). Reflections on reconciliation and ubuntu. In R. Nicholson (Ed.), Persons in community: African ethics in a global culture (pp. 65–83). Pietermaritzburg: University of Kwa-Zulu-Natal Press.Google Scholar
  39. Street, B. V. (2012). Society reschooling. Reading Research Quarterly, 47(2), 216–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Van Binsbergen, W. (2001). Ubuntu and the globalization of Southern African thought and society. Quest, 15(1–2), 53–89.Google Scholar
  41. Webb, V., & Kembo-Sure (2000). African voices: An introduction to the linguistics of Africa. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Williams, L. (2012). The little Big Book Club: Implementing an aboriginal perspective in the classroom. Practically Primary, 17(2), 38–41.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V., and UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hub for Multilingual Education and LiteraciesUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations