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DR Congo's 'lost' languages

DR Congo's 'lost' languages

Democratic Republic Of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo is home to a tenth of the world’s languages.

In the capital Kinshasa, Cocolette Collo was born a Luba, a people who come the central part of the country mainly in the troubled Kasai region.

But, she cannot speak Tshiluba. She she is fluent in Swahili, Kinyarwanda Lingala and French.

Today our children do not learn the Tshiluba, Lingala ,the Lomongo the Kingwaka, the Kingwandi, the Kimbala, the Kisuku at school. There are almost 450 languages. We are told that it prevents development, no, it is knowingly done by those who colonized us

She is worried that some of the local languages will become extinct in a few years to come.

“I do not believe that my mother tongue will still exist in 10 or 15 years to come it will disappear because we the parents are not speaking Tshiluba and how can we teach it to our children? it is difficult.”

Kambayi Bwatshia, who lectures in history at Kinshasa’s UPN university, said “old people speak in the language of the village to survive” while young people, “especially in big urban centres, adapt to their environment.”

“Today our children do not learn the Tshiluba, Lingala ,the Lomongo the Kingwaka, the Kingwandi, the Kimbala, the Kisuku at school. There are almost 450 languages. We are told that it prevents development, no, it is knowingly done by those who colonized us, Belgium first and all the others.”

When the former Belgian colony became independent in 1960, authorities chose French as the official language, though even today not all of the population understands it.

While some in the country of over 70 million people may speak several local languages, the upwardly mobile will often teach their children only French or French and English.

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