Presentation of the
"Declaration of Asmara" for readers of the
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The Asmara Declaration on African Languages and Literatures *
We writers and scholars from all regions of Africa gathered in Asmara, Eritrea, from January 11 to 17, 2000, at the conference titled Against All Odds: African Languages and Literatures into the 21st Century. This is the first conference on African languages and literatures ever to be held on African soil, with participants from east, west, north, Southern Africa and from the diaspora and by writers and scholars from around the world. We examined the state of African languages in literature, scholarship, publishing, education, and administration in Africa and throughout the world. We celebrated the vitality of African languages and literatures and affirmed their potential. We noted with pride that despite all the odds against them, African languages as vehicles of communication and knowledge survive and have a written continuity of thousands of years. Colonialism created some of the most serious obstacles against African languages and literatures. We noted with concern the fact that these colonial obstacles still haunt independent Africa and continue to block the mind of the continent. We identified a profound incongruity in colonial languages speaking for the continent. At the start of a new century and millennium, Africa must firmly reject this incongruity and affirm a new beginning by returning to its languages and heritage.
At this historic conference, we writers and scholars from all regions of Africa gathered in Asmara, Eritrea, declare that:
The initiative which has materialized in the Against All Odds conference must be continued through biennial conferences in different parts of Africa. In order to organize future conferences in different parts of Africa, create a forum of dialogue and cooperation, and advance the principles of this declaration, a permanent Secretariat will be established, which will be initially based in Asmara, Eritrea.
Translated into as many African languages as possible and based on these principles, the Asmara Declaration is affirmed by all participants in Against All Odds. We call upon all African states, the OAU, the UN, and all international organizations that serve Africa to join this effort of recognition and support for African languages, with this declaration as a basis for new policies.
While we acknowledge with pride the retention of African languages in some parts of Africa and the diaspora and the role of African languages in the formation of new languages, we urge all people in Africa and the diaspora to join in the spirit of this declaration and become part of the efforts to realize its goals.
Asmara, 17th of January 2000
* Source: www.outreach.psu.edu:80/C&I/AllOdds/declaration.html (page now available only via Archive.org).