Original Research

African literacies: Which of them matter, and why?

Kate Parry
Reading & Writing | Vol 1, No 1 | a2 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v1i1.2 | © 2010 Kate Parry | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 May 2010 | Published: 22 May 2010

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Kate Parry, Hunter College, City University of New York

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This paper draws on data collected at the Kitengesa Community Library in Masaka District of Uganda to discuss some of the different literacies that are important in African environments. First, the literacies associated with different languages are analysed, these being classified assupralanguages (English in Uganda), lingua francas (such as Kiswahili), and local languages (Luganda in Kitengesa). Literacies also vary with social context, and the paper considers the cases of school, family, peer group, and private literacies. Work at Kitengesa has shown that although literacy is generally thought of as part of school life, other literacies are developing in response to the opportunities provided by the library. Supralanguage and school literacies remain dominant, but it is argued that they will become much more productive if supported by other literacies and that it is a major function of a community library to help such other literacies to develop


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