According to Ghana's Foreign Minister, Shirley Botchway, government has intentions of making French a second official language, and although this has faced some backlash, there are good reasons to support this move.
The minister, in the report carried by YEN.com.gh, believes making French a second language in Ghana would go a long way to improve regional integration.
“We believe that the extensive teaching and learning of French will inure to the benefit of Ghana as we are bordered by three Francophone countries; namely, Togo, Burkina Faso and La Cote d’Ivoire,” she said.
On Twitter and on Facebook, Ghanaians have offered either criticisms or support on government's intentions. The anti-government rhetoric is led by no other person than musician Okyeame Kwame.
But YEN.com.gh offers some points to the effect that it might not be a bad idea.
1. Creating a class of international language speakers can boost the economy
Imagine a 10-year plan that is able to groom about 500,000 who can speak and write French. That is 500,000 people whose horizons have been broadened and are ready to work with multinational bodies.
Languages are more than a case of identity. Languages are opportunities in a world that is becoming rapidly small through globalisation.
2. Making French an official language will not end support for local languages
One of the biggest cases made by those who say they cannot have French in Ghana is that there are local languages that could be lifted to that status.
Government is already disseminating public service and information through local languages. Government is still the chief supporter of the Bureau of Languages' researches into local languages.
Government would then be looking to add French to the languages used for these purposes. To say you do not want French because it would undermine local languages is a poor argument.
3. Making French an official language is also about African unity
There are 26 French-speaking countries in Africa as compared to the few who speak Arabic, Swahili and Portuguese. Any future discussions of how Africa needs to unite cannot forget that common features need to be established.
Ghanaians keep telling the whole world that we were the first black African nation to be independent from colonial rule. Somehow, we feel we need to lead the Pan-African charge.
Yet, our people cannot speak the language spoken by hundreds of millions of other Africans. How can we then lead?
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