Salawu (2006a) notes that the story of indigenous language newspapers rising and dying is the same across most parts of Africa. In 1930, there were 19 registered African language newspapers in South Africa. They included the isiXhosa Imvo Zabantsundu and Inkundla ya Bantu. Today, most of those newspapers are non-existent. As recently as 1990s, there used to be newspapers in fifteen Ghanaian languages; today, there is none (Salawu 2006b). In the colonial Democratic Republic of Congo, there were more than 150 periodicals in indigenous languages. Today, the story is quite different (Vinck 2006). In Cameroon, there is hardly a remarkable indigenous language newspaper (Tanjong and Muluh 2006). Of all the newspapers in the first to the fourth ‘waves’ of indigenous language press in Nigeria (Folarin and Mohammed 1996), only Gaskiya Tafi Kwabo (established in 1937) still exists till today. Iroyin Yoruba, established in 1945, existed till 1996 when it was finally laid to rest. Meanwhile, many other newspapers that had come after Gaskiya and Iroyin Yoruba had ceased to exist.
There are however some relative success (relative when compared to the success of the colonial language press) stories in African language newspaper publishing but in most of these cases, the newspapers go tabloid publishing sensational stories and using the adulterated form of the particular African language to appeal to a mass readership (Mpofu and Salawu, 2018; Salawu, 2015; Ndlovu, 2011).
Not without its own challenges though, in comparative terms, the situation is still much better with the broadcast media. This therefore indicates that African culture is still largely oral.
The proposed volume which is planned to be published by Routledge in its Routledge Contemporary Africa series will focus on why businesses in African language press are unstable and what can be done to develop African language journalism into quality journalism while also ensuring their profitability.
The following are some of the issues the volume will like to touch:
- Factors that are responsible for the underdevelopment of African language journalism and unsustainability of African language newspapers
- How African language journalism can be developed into quality journalism
- How African language newspaper business can be sustained
- Impact of digitisation on the sustainability of African language newspaper business
- Political Economy of African Language Media
- African Language Media Economics
- Management and Organisation of African Language Media
- Advertisements/Commercials in African Language Media
- Business Models for African Language Media in the era of Digitisation
- Globalisation and African Language Media Economics
- Language Politics, Development and Sustainability of African Language Media
- Comparative analyses of economies of African language broadcast, digital and print media
This list is by no means exhaustive.
Interested contributors are invited to submit a 500-word proposal and a short biography to Abiodun Salawu (North-West University, South Africa) at firstname.lastname@example.org October 15, 2018. Final chapters of approximately 5000-7000 words will be due by 28 February, 2019. Please note that all submissions will be peer-reviewed.
Folarin, B. and JB Mohammed. 1996. The Indigenous Language Press in Nigeria. In O. Dare and A. Uyo (Ed.). Journalism in Nigeria. Lagos: NUJ, Lagos Council. Pp. 99 – 112.
Mpofu, P. and A. Salawu. 2018. Culture of sensationalism and indigenous language press in Zimbabwe: implications on language development. African Identities, DOI: 10.1080/14725843.2018.1473147. Pp. 1 – 17. ISSN: 1472-5843 (Print) 1472-5851 (Online).
Ndlovu, M. 2011. “The meaning of post-apartheid Zulu media”. Communicatio 37(2): 268 – 290.
Salawu, A. 2015. A political economy of sub-Saharan African language press: the case of Nigeria and South Africa. Review of African Political Economy, 42:144, 299-313.
Salawu, A. 2006a. “Paradox of a milieu: Communicating in African Indigenous Languages in the age of Globalisation.” In Indigenous Language Media in Africa, edited by A. Salawu, 1 – 20. Lagos: CBAAC.
Salawu, A. 2006b. “Rich history, uncertain future.” Rhodes Journalism Review 26: 55 – 56.
Tanjong, E. and H. Muluh. 2006. “Barriers to Indigenous Language Press in Cameroon”. In Indigenous Language Media in Africa, 206 – 229, edited by A. Salawu, 206 – 229. Lagos: CBAAC.
Vinck, H. 2006. “Het belang van de periodieke koloniale pers in Afrikaanse talen.” In Indigenous Language Media in Africa, 206 – 229, edited by A. Salawu, 347 – 376. Lagos: CBAAC.
Professor Abiodun Salawu
Director of Research Entity: Indigenous Language Media in Africa
Faculty of Humanities
Private Bag X2046
Telephone: +27 18 389 2238