The Vice Chancellor of Takoradi Technical University (TTU), Reverend Professor John Frank Eshun, has called on academia to use their positions and influence in their various communities to help address challenges of human indignity and human insecurity on the continent.
He made the call at the opening ceremony of the 2nd international conference of the West African Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (WAACLALS 2019) hosted by the Takoradi Technical University in the Western Region.
The conference, which was held under the theme: “Re-thinking Human (in)dignity, Human (in)Security and Social Development in Africa”, brought together more than fifty international conference participants, predominantly from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Nigeria.
The Ghanaian participants came from universities including Takoradi Technical University, University of Cape Coast, University of Education, Winneba, University of Mines and Technology (Tarkwa), University of Energy and Natural Resources (Sunyani).
Rev. Prof. Eshun said, “Decades after abolition of the distasteful trade in slaves, we are still confronted with variants of indignity which pose challenges to the world’s human security. One of them, very simple but overwhelmingly is the problem of sanitation”.
He said, “Across Africa, the problem of sanitation remains a huge challenge which is critical and detrimental to our human dignity. At the same time, it comes as a threat to our human security, and also perpetually frustrates our social development.
Prof. D.D. Kuupole, former Vice Chancellor of Cape Coast University, said there is the need for all deliberations and literature should be appropriately repositioned to advance socio-economic development.
He paid glowing tribute to great African literary scholars including Ayikwei Armah, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Ahmadou Kouroma whose literary works continue to inspire the denunciation of corruption and numerous social ills.
Prof. D.D. Kuupole was saddened that authors of some creative works of literature and expressions of ingenuity have landed such brains in trouble with their respective governments or opinion leaders.
“Some authors, artists and publishers have been declared wanted and hate figures in their own homeland” he said adding: “An environment of insecurity clouds and submerges literary ingenuity and creativity.
He said this hostile reception to literary creativity, without doubt, attenuates writers, and affects the raison d’etre of the genre (literature).
Prof Kuupole called on the conference participants to adopt a perspective that is akin to the period of rebirth and enlightenment of literature and language in the role of eliminating human indignity, insecurity; and further sustain human dignity, security and social development in Africa.
Prof Kizitus Mpoche, Vice Dean for Admissions and Statistics, University of Douala, Cameroon, said Africa could boast of hundreds of local languages which should be effectively harnessed as a basis for social development.
On his part, the Chairman of WAACLALS, Prof. Marcelo Okhakhu of the University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria, called for a conscious effort to revisit and revise some relevant aspects of Literature and Language for sustainable development.
Dr. Prize McApreko, the Convener of WAACLALS 2019 conference, expressed the hope that, the wealth of knowledge that would emerge during the intellectual engagement would neither be left to gather dust, nor be made only to serve for purposes of academic promotion.
He said they should be published for the benefit of the public and thanked participants for braving the odds in order participate in the event.
Dr Prize McApreko, who is also Dean of the Centre for Languages and Liberal Studies, Takoradi Technical University, said it is unfair that sixty years after Africa’s independence, political demarcations that were inscribed by the colonizers during the scramble for Africa, remain a source of perpetrating forms of indignity by some Africans to fellow Africans in a 21st century post-colonial era.
He called for a more holistic African architecture that is capable of upholding human dignity in its cross border dealings without sacrificing immigration formalities.
University of Douala-Cameroon would host WAACLALS 2020.