African Languages and Community Participation in Environmental Management

  • Peter Mayeso Jiyajiya Bingu School of Culture and Heritage, Malawi University of Science and Technology
Keywords: African languages, environmental management, local communities, language appropriateness


Environmental management debates have focused much on finding solutions to the ecological challenges facing the planet without regard for the language that can be used in fostering the dialogue. The use of African languages has often been ignored under the guise that they do not adequately represent the environmental phenomenon. This paper argues that the appropriate use of an African language such as Chichewa in environmental management discourse can enhance participation of local communities in the conservation exercise. Therefore, the paper reports that the appropriateness of the Chichewa language used in environmental messages is not considered as literally translated technical terms are used which are not in sync with the everyday language use of local communities. The paper therefore concludes that much as the African language is used in the information dissemination, the appropriate form is crucial if local communities are to actively participate in the environmental management.