it not Amadou Hampaté BA who said that of all the elements
which best characterise an individual, from physical appearance
to clothing, language is the most obvious?
It is through language that we convey our ideas, and that
we communicate with others. Thus, it enables us to share our
cultural experience. Our linguistic repertory and our choice
of the phrases determine not only who we are, but also the place
and the circumstances of the moment.
Because language transcends the individual in favour of
his community, it consequently becomes our property and that
of our culture. It is through language that we acquire and transmit
our knowledge and our know-how which facilitate a certain domination
over our environment. It stands, indeed, as the key component
and the barometer of our development.
Four decades after the political 'independences' however,
the situation of African languages keeps on widening inequalities
in the fields of science, technique, and technology. This imbalance
between official languages, inherited from colonisation, and
African languages, far from facilitating a better sharing of
modern knowledge and practices, jeopardises any significant
involvement of our populations in the process of decision making
on the one hand, and in the improvement of their living conditions
on the other. Therefore, our commitment to the ideals of the
O.A.U., the pressing call of our people for a quick and more
involving access to writing and true democracy, the requirements
of an ever lasting sub-regional and regional stability, have
imposed upon us the creation of an instrument for the development
of our languages, likely to facilitate and reinforce linguistic
co-operation between African states and, moreover, to promote
the harmonisation and the actual implementation of language
policies conform to the aspirations of our working populations
Now more than ever, it is our responsibility, through
the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN), to create the appropriate
conditions for African languages, especially cross border languages,
to develop into truly operational working languages. In other
words, women and men who speak those languages must be able
to write them and use them on any occasion, and this will certainly
be the best guarantee for capacity building and democracy.
Africans have always lived out their lives and their cultures.
The African Academy shall be the decisive instrument for the
total liberation of the continent, and the revival of initiatives
by the populations. It shall contribute to the dissemination
of a dynamic vision of languages, vehicles of cultures and moral
values, the basis of African societies, and unavoidable factors
of integration, peace and an everlasting endogenous development
within a balanced and a dynamic partnership with languages inherited
It is now time that Africa stopped being the only continent
where a school child can have access to knowledge and science
only through a language other than the one spoken in his family!
It is time that those to be tried were given, wherever
that is not yet the case, the chance to have access to justice
in their languages, thereby avoiding the notorious practice
of interpretation inherited from colonisation!
At last, the time has come for Africa to speak first to
Africans, and behaved African! Thus, an important part of the
dreams of the Pan Africans and the fathers of the African 'independences'
would be realised.
The stakes are clear, and the challenges well identified:
we must find appropriate solutions for the promotion of African
languages, a safe, rapid, economic and direct way to improve
the living conditions of our populations. This is what the African
Academy is all about.
An initiative of the President of the Republic of Mali,
welcomed by his peers, the African Academy of Languages is at
the crossroad of the fight for the rebirth of the African continent
as regards its unity on the one hand, and of the trust and the
capacity of Africans to ensure their total fulfilment in peace
and co-operation with all the people of the world on the other
More than a mere tool of information and sensitisation,
this web site, we hope, will help make yours the objectives
and the missions of the Academy, and to use this opportunity
to help value African languages and culture.