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Languages at War: External Language Spread Policies in Lusophone Africa

Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau at the Turn of the 21 st Century


Carla Figueira

This study explores the argument that postcolonial Africa has been the setting for competing external language spread policies (LSPs) by ex-colonial European countries at the turn of the 21 st Century. It focuses on the external LSPs developed by the governments of Portugal, Brazil, United Kingdom, France and Germany towards Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau from the 1990s to the present. The study offers a perspective on the web of relationships involving European ex-colonial powers and the African postcolonial countries of Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique. The author seeks to examine the development of external (European) LSPs and the construction of politico-linguistic blocs in a complex context whilst taking into account the colonial heritage and its lingering dependencies, the construction and maintenance of nationhood and the increasing globalisation of the world.


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Chapter 4 Country Case Studies: Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau


This chapter presents the two country case studies that form the basis of my re- search. Each case study includes an introduction to the countries, an examina- tion of the role of language in the polities, including the linguistic legacies of colonialism and their impact on the present language policies of the country, a discussion of the external language spread policies deployed in the country, and finally an analysis of perceptions and discourses about policies and language(s) relevant to this study. The aim is to provide a contextualised analysis of external language spread policies that takes into account the complex environment in which they are deployed. For the purpose of this study the latter includes the construction and maintenance of national identity, the hegemonic construction nationally and internationally of political and cultural power as well as the need to account for the linguistic human rights of individuals and thus the mainte- nance and fostering of linguistic and cultural diversity. 4.1 Mozambique: A Country Case Study 4.1.1 Country Profile Mozambique stretches 2,500km along the Indian Ocean in the east coast of southern Africa, opposite Madagascar. For five centuries a Portuguese colony, the country was mainly use as a transit country involved in the development of its landlocked neighbours. Mozambique acquired independence in 1975, following a guerrilla war (1962- 1974). Independence led to the departure of most settlers to Portugal (98% ac- cording to AJ Lopes 2002 interview) this caused serious problems in the organi- sation of Mozambique as an...

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