In the first of a series of podcasts delving into the big questions of history, Ahmed El Shamsy joins New Lines’ Lydia Wilson to discuss how the printing press became the engine that powered the Arab Renaissance.
For Africans, the use of Arabic presents a dilemma: Without the historical role of Arabic, African writers would have been compelled to write in former colonial languages, but many also view the language as the medium of the slave trade that preceded trans-Atlantic slavery. Still, not everything magnificent on the continent must have originated elsewhere.
Arabs damned their own language through diglossia and denial. They have tried to elevate fus-ha, the only so-called true or pure Arabic, while working to discredit, disable, and even destroy dialects.