Learning Chinese is a direct ticket for one to easily read and understand world’s oldest literature
By Ssemanda Allawi
In International Relations and Diplomacy, communication is key aspect when it comes to strengthening trust and relationship. Speaking with another directly and understanding without help of interpreters naturally builds confidence be in negotiations, business or in our daily life. Joseph Gafaranga a senior researcher in Bilingualism and Conversation at The University of Edinburg argues that, learning more languages than one's native language is important in daily life and provides opportunities in employment market.
As a scholar of International Relations, I am convinced that learning Chinese language is an opportunity that many should be embraced in this Global village. From business perspective, the language offers opportunity one to easily do business in or with China which is one of world's leading International business hubs.
In Uganda and Africa in general, China is the leading trading partner on with several businesses and investments. Globally, in many ways Chinese language will be needed became. The country is now Germany's leading trading ally with several other European powerful economies. All this provide employment opportunities to those who can speak more international languages.
On top of this, Chinese is one of the six United Nations official languages. Globally, over 1.2 billion people speaks Chinese. The language is also widely used in business communities and several countries such Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore Thailand and South Korea among others. Considering the fact that Chinese is expected to be Asia's future lingua franca or bridge language, and that Ugandan business men/women frequent these countries for goods, learning Chinese is an added advantage for one to easily do business or work there.
In Uganda, the ministry of Education has already named 35 secondary schools to teach Chinese language. Considering Uganda-China and China-Africa Relations in general which is at its best peak in our history, in my view this move by ministry of education gives Ugandans opportunity to learn this important language which many analysts' view will in the nearest future be one of lingua franca.
Though Sino-Africa Scepticists claim otherwise, there is no doubt that learning Chinese language comes with added advantages in this competitive world.
Indeed, responding to BBC's this week's article; "Confucius Institutes: The growth of China's controversial cultural branch", Makerere University Vice Chancellor professor Barnabas Nawangwe in a tweet described BBC's claim as blackmail explaining importance of Chinese language Tweeting that: "This BBC article ‘blackmailing' the Confucius Institute is an attempt to discourage people from learning the Chinese language and the Chinese culture, the oldest surviving culture. The Chinese culture is a heritage belonging to all humanity."
Considering the importance of language in this global village, professor Nawangwe was spot on! As Flora Lewis - a top-notch reporter and renown International Affairs reporter once observed: "Learning another language is not only learning words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things."
Put differently, learning Chinese is a direct ticket for one to easily read and understand world's oldest literature. Chinese is the world's oldest written language with staggering six thousand years of history! Therefore, Confucius institutes and learning the language itself opens a window for us to learn the world's oldest and continuous culture.
From Global and Strategic studies perspectives, Chinese language is an open window to understanding history in its completeness. In addition to the fact that each Chinese characters offers intriguing story behind every word, knowing the language itself is an open gate to understanding China's social, cultural and economic history.
The writer is a PhD candidate in international relations & diplomacy