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SoConDi meeting: Roland Kouassi on Urban Talk in Post-Colonial Africa

Friday, February 15, 2013
12:00 AM
403 Lorch Hall

Identity and Ideology in Urban Talks in Post-colonial Africa: the Case of Nouchi

Roland Kouassi, professor at the University of Cocody in Côte d'Ivoire and currently a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the University of Michigan, will present in SoConDi this week. The title and abstract of his presentation are given below.

Identity and Ideology in Urban Talks in Post-colonial Africa: the Case of Nouchi

French colonial policy incorporated two major concepts of assimilation and association. Assimilation presupposed the inherent superiority of French culture over all others, so that in practice the assimilation policy in the colonies meant extension of the French language, institutions, laws, and customs. The policy of association also affirmed the superiority of the French in the colonies, but it entailed different institutions and systems of laws for the colonizer and the colonized. Under this policy, the Africans in Cote d’Ivoire were allowed to preserve their own customs insofar as they were compatible with French interests. At the same time, the real practice was oriented toward making French be the language and getting rid of “indigenous” languages. Most Ivorians who entered formal education were therefore “encouraged” to speak only French or strongly discouraged to speak their mother tongues.

Since Independence, however, the situation has not really changed. The Constitution does consecrate French as the official language, the unique language of formal education and public administration. In these dynamics, young people who were early dropouts or unschooled, living in the streets of cities (especially in Abidjan) found it difficult to communicate when they belonged to different linguistic backgrounds. They needed a lingua franca. They created Nouchi. This presentation gives a  description of Nouchi and tries to discuss the politics of identity and ideology involved.

Speaker:
Roland Kouassi