Language, the Sustainable Development Goals, and Vulnerable Populations
Gulere, Cornelius Wambi
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Cultures that use indirect language today face the challenge of being misunderstood. Indirection is often associated with lack of self-esteem, zeal, truthfulness and sincerity. Yet, it is for some, a style of language communication intended to save face and keep peace. As such, people who use indirection may be misunderstood to the extent of being excluded, undermined, and dismissed as unsophisticated and disregarded by those who “speak straight to the point.” A case in point is the Basoga in the Eastern part of Uganda, whose language of communication is dominated by riddling and proverbiage. Defined by colonialists and neighbours as “abempwitu” meaning belligerent, their educational and economic performance is comparably dismal and deteriorating by the year largely because of language. Although many Basoga have served in high positions of power, authority and influence since 1910, their power of negotiation and influence has been low because their language of articulation of the matters of Busoga is engrossed in imagery. An understanding of such a people’s language and what it seeks to communicate calls for specific attention to language diversity. The Basoga, like many indigenous and African people, continue to lose out on many opportunities, because they are misunderstood by their partners in development also because they have a low self-concept. I have found out that the economic stagnation and social frustration of the people in Busoga is largely due to low levels of Lusoga language appreciation. Hence, their detached duty to and use of their direct resources both material and human.