African indigenous languages and accommodation in peace-building: The case of Kenya’s Borabu- Sotik Border Local Peace Committees’ PB dialogues
Keywords:Indigenous Languages, Ekegusii, Kipsigis, Communication Accommodation Theory & Strategies, Approximation, Convergence, Divergence, Borabu & Sotik border Local Peace Committees, Peace Building intergroup Dialogues.
A review of Language and PB literature shows that, as carriers of meanings and connotations, indigenous languages are central to effective community-based communication in contexts such as interethnic peace-building which has become indispensible due to the now rampant debilitating ethno-political-conflict. However, mother-languages have not only been relegated in language-policy planning (due to the demand for information technology-advancement related globalizing lingua franca), but their centrality in community-based communications has not been properly showcased in research. Therefore, this study, within the framework of Communication-Accommodation-Theory, tries to examine their role in the Borabu-Sotik Local-Peace-Committees’ peace-building dialogues; whose discourse demands accommodation and the understanding of the communities’ indigenous-knowledge, folklore, history and cultural norms & diversity. It was guided by the research-question: How and why were indigenous-languages used in the Borabu-Sotik Local-Peace-Committees’ interethnic peace-building dialogues, (if at all they were) and what is its effect on peace-building? Due to the nature of this question, the issue addressed and my epistemological-assumption that peace-building-communication is contextually relative; I used the qualitative exploratory case-study design in the interpretivism research-paradigm. I thus utilized various purposive non-probability sampling techniques to collect (through interviews, observations and FGDs) and analyze data inferentially and thematically. The findings showed that the BS PB-dialogues were replete with verbal-approximation strategies to Ekegusii and to the Kipsigis languages from Kiswahili (the peace-building default-language). Convergence to out-group indigenous-languages which showcased multilingualism, optimal speech-patterns, affiliation and good-will created intergroup rapport, co-operation & harmonious-relational outcomes. Over-convergence was however counterproductively perceived as unwarranted-allegiance. Divergence to the in-groups’ indigenous-languages evoked: ethno-linguistic distinctiveness, disassociation and non-accommodation. But it was evaluated less negatively when attributed to clarification, self-disclosure and reference to taboo/ untranslatable-concepts. The study concluded that the Borabu-Sotik inter-ethnic peace-building dialogues were imbued with divergence to indigenous Languages, that served various regulatory, heuristic and instrumental PB cognitive and affective functions, like: expressing cultural-values; creating interethnic-solidarity; mitigating conflict-effects and enemy-images. Research on how these languages can be formalized and strengthened for such communication-contexts in Kenya and in other ethno-political conflict-embroiled regions is necessary.
Indigenous Languages, Ekegusii, Kipsigis, Communication Accommodation Theory & Strategies, Approximation, Convergence, Divergence, Borabu & Sotik border Local Peace Committees, Peace Building intergroup Dialogues.
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