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A word from Mister Adama SAMASSEKOU
President/Interim Executive Secretary of the African Academy of Languages

Was 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.

Word of Mr A. Samassekou

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 from colonisation.

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 hand.

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.

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