Language-in-education policy in Africa is replete with debate regarding the use of standard African languages as part of mother-tongue education. An issue inadequately addressed within this debate is the role and function of urban vernaculars which have become "the" mother tongue of the greater part of Africa's population. Using data from the lyrics of popular music from eastern and southern African songwriters as an instance of ground-level language practices, this article argues that, to the extent that urban vernaculars and standard African languages act as international languages in popular music, there is justification for using urban vernaculars as languages of instruction. The extensive use of urban vernaculars in popular music has led to its popularity, and if these urban vernaculars are used as part of mother tongue education, socio-cultural relations between the school and society may improve. Despite the fact that educational strategies based on language practices in popular songs subvert social hierarchy, the use of urban vernaculars reshapes and blurs linguistic boundaries and, thus, constructs plurilingual identities. Using urban vernaculars not only provides access to education for a large portion of the population but also consolidates "glocal" identities while affirming cultural roots.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics
- Linguistics and Language