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15.08.2005 General News

Intensify teaching of French - Prof Bening

GNA

Accra, Aug. 15, GNA - Professor Raymond Bagulo Bening of the University of Ghana, Legon at the weekend called for the re-introduction of both English and French languages as compulsory subjects for studies in West African schools to enhance regional integration. The linguistic barrier created through the segregation of the region based on foreign languages - anglophone and francophone - had continued to hinder regional leaders' effort for integration, trade liberalisation and social cohesion.

"There is, therefore, the urgent need to make citizens of the region bilingual," Prof. Bening stated at the launch of a 359-page book "The Ewe of Togo and Benin," in Accra.

The book written by 26 scholars from West Africa, Europe and North America provide the first English language survey of the cultures, traditions, histories and lives of Ewes in Togo and Benin. It explores the legal; artistic; religious and creative traditions; rural and urban migrations and settlements; minorities living among modern Ewe communities; literary and linguistic practices and speculations about the future of the international Ewe Diaspora. Prof Bening urged the African Union to draw a continental blueprint focusing in linguistic integration.

Commenting on the book, the Professor of Geography and Former Vice Chancellor of University of Development Studies, described as delicate the balance between Anglophone and Francophone cultures with a formidable array of historical persuasions.

Edited by Dr Benjamin Lawrance, an Assistant Professor of African History at the University of California, the 20-chapter book is divided into five parts.

Part one deals with the land and people of Togo-Benin Eweland and focuses on the archaeology, settlement and history of the region from the pre-colonial and colonial period, including the neglected autochthonous communities surrounded by Ewe groups. Part two explores the regional variations within Togo-Benin Ewe Communities including important new information of Watchi, Notsie and Guin-Mina groups as well as integrating the relatively recent foundation of Lome into wider Ewe sociology and history.

Part three is a collection of ethnographies, focusing on childhood, chieftaincy, music and religion. Part four turns attention toward language and literature among the Togo-Benin Ewe, including a history of the written Ewe language and the literature of the Francophone Ewe people.

Part five, a loose collection of essays subtitled Contemporary Trends, explores textiles, urban history and museums, recent rural economic developments and very importantly, the place of the ever increasing Ewe Diaspora in the shaping and reshaping of Ewe cultures. According to Dr Lawrance, the book sought to balance the competing demands and needs for information in English about Ewe of Togo and Benin with the difficulties accompanying a truly international editorial process.

He said it drew together new sociological, cultural, historical and linguistic data, and reflected both the breadth on interest in Ewe cultures as well as the location of the expensive Ewe Diaspora. He noted; "one of the more frustrating legacies of European colonialism in the Volta-mono region is the creation of two almost autonomous Ewe-speaking communities of scholars - Francophone in Togo and Anglophone in Ghana.

"The pitfalls of having two isolated camps are compounded by the geography of the region and the vastly different economic and political climate in Ghana and Togo."

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