Discources of Internal Migration and Belonging: The Case of Some Communities in Ghana

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 9:00 AM
Room: Booth 62
Oral Presentation
Lynn KISEMBE , Humanities and Social Sciences, All Nations University, Koforidua, Ghana
Ghana, whose geographical position is along the west coast of Africa, has a population of approximately 20 million people. It is estimated that 45-60 local languages and dialects are spoken in Ghana (Dzameshie 1988). English is the official language in Ghana, and is used as a medium of instruction in educational institutions, commerce and government. A large population of Ghanaians are multilingual but use English as a common language for communication with speakers of other languages in society and for official purposes as a lingua franca.  Each of the nine regions in Ghana has a dominant language that is also taught as a subject to school going children. Of all the languages spoken in Ghana, the Akan language is the most dominant of all. About 44% of Ghanaians understand and speak the Akan language (Osam 2003), though not all of them can speak it so fluently.

This paper examines how highly proficient adults from Southern Ghana construct and negotiate social belonging and exclusion in Northern Ghana. The data comes from interviews of individuals who migrated to Northern Ghana as adults and spent a significant portion of their lives in Northern Ghana. How do such individuals negotiate for belonging within the Northern identity region and successfully learn the dominant language? How do participants position themselves as successful learners a Northern language?  After successful negotiation, how do they see themselves in relation to the local people?

We argue that the study of identity and language use must consider
socio-historical contexts. Success in acquiring the Northern language is based on interaction. We examine the aspects of a good language learner namely: learning process, learner characteristics, and language features from the perspective of identity negotiation.  We also examine the narratives that the individuals tell of the processes of identity negotiation.