Talk to Text Safaliba Literacy Activism
Grassroots Ghanaian Educational Language Policy
Keywords:Safaliba literacy, Indigenous Languages, Educational Linguistics, Linguistic Ethnography
Safaliba is an understudied indigenous language. Approximately 7–9,000 Ghanaians speak it in a country with a population of about 26.3 million. It is one of an estimated 73 indigenous Ghanaian languages, none of which have a majority of first language speakers. Safaliba speakers are for the most part subsistence farmers, while a minority are teachers, shopkeepers, tradespeople, and craftspeople who often farm too. The purpose of this essay is to share an encapsulated history of literacy of this proud and strong people, as well as document a Safaliba activist’s resistance to hegemonic discourses in Ghanaian language policy. It is a captivating story because of its intergenerational activism, quiet resistance to government materials, and Safaliba materials development from talk to text. The paper frames Safaliba activism as an indigenous people’s late modern resistance to global pressures that are causing languages to disappear at an unprecedented rate. Data are from a larger linguistic ethnography.
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