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Akuapem Twi Constitution launched  

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The Akwapem Twi version of Ghana’s Constitution has been launched in Accra with a call on Ghanaians to do away with linguistic imperialism. 

The 1992 Constitution in Akuapem Twi, the first of its kind in the history of Ghana was done by Mr Kwasi Opare, a distinguished lawyer. It took him eight years to translate the national legal document from English to Akuapem Twi.

The translation captures all the preamble and the entire 26 chapters and two schedules. It has also adopted transliterating and use of neologism, using Akan spellings.

Speaking at the Launch, Professor Kofi Agyekum, Acting Dean, School of Performing Arts, University of Ghana (UG), noted that although Ghanaians were proud to have attained independence in the year 1957, the country was still under linguistic bondage because of linguistic imperialism.

The former head of Linguistics, UG, described linguistic imperialism as “phenomenon in which the minds and lives of the speakers of a language are dominated by another language to the point where they believed that they can, and should use only that foreign language.”

He noted that linguistic imperialism had compelled the country to have all its official documents in the colonial master’s language.
“Sadly, our constitution, the pillar of our undertaking as a state, is also in English. Where is our identity and cultural heritage then?” He quizzed.

He therefore urged citizens to safeguard, protect and document Ghana’s languages for future generations.
“We should not allow linguistics imperialism to thrive. It will trample on our linguistic human rights. Let us embark on active language decolonization through translation like this one,” he stressed

Prof. Agyekum lauded Kwasi Opare “who dreamt so big towards language decolonization to translate the 1992 constitution into Akuapem Twi.”

According to him, countries such as Brazil, Bolivia, South Africa, and Tanzania had taken lead by translating their national constitution into some indigenous languages.
He said the translation of the Constitution in Akuapem Twi would not pose any problem for Akan speakers and readers, saying the national legal document was user friendly and it would be useful in various homes.

Prof. Agyekum noted that “our indigenous Ghanaian language can serve us all in diverse ways of life if we are anxious to develop them to the maximum.
Akan was being used in Education, media, Arts and Culture, Religion, Commerce and Trade and ICT, he said.

Prof. Agyekum therefore called on Chiefs and traditional authorities to be very proud of their cultural identity and the work done by Mr Kwasi Opare. “Elsewhere, this huge translation project should have been a national project and same sponsored by state.”

He appealed to traditional authorities to take keen interest in Ghana’s indigenous languages in forms of communication.

“It would be lovely to listen to speeches delivered by our kings, chiefs and queen mothers in our indigenous languages. This will implant the love of our mother tongue into current and future generations.

If we do not start to cherish and use our mother tongue now, and all of us are interested in foreign languages at the expense of our own, it will be chaotic. We will be on the path of language shift, language attrition, language loss and finally language death.”

Prof. Agyekum said: “to avoid such catastrophic situation let us maintain our languages and cultures through translation and publication of essential documents like the 1992 Constitution, a Ghanaian Bible of a sort.”

Nana Ansah Kwaw IV, Chief of Adumasa, who performed the launch, commended Kwasi Opare for his landmark achievement and appealed to the National Commission on Civic Education to coordinate and outdoor the Akuapem Twi Constitution on a large platform.

Mr. Kwasi Opare, the Translator, said the national legal document would enable all citizens to learn and appreciate the law better.

Mr. Opare lauded the immersed role played by the late Appenteng Sackey, a former lecturer of UG, adding his efforts had contributed to the outdooring of the Constitution in Akuapem Twi.

The first copies of the Constitution in Akuapem Twi were sold at GHC2,000.

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