Dr. Kwame Nantambu

Why spell Afrika with a K?
Posted: February 17, 2002
An analysis by
Dr. Kwame Nantambu

According to the Afrikan-American poet and writer Haki Madhubuti in his From Plan to Planet (1973), there are basically four reasons to spell Afrika with a K.

They are:
1. Most vernacular or traditional languages on the Continent spell Afrika with a K. K is germane to Afrika.

2. Europeans particularly the Portuguese and British, polutted Afrikan languages by substituting 'C' whenever they saw 'K' or heard the 'K' sound B as in Kongo and Congo, Akkra and Accra, Konakri and Conakry B by substituting Q whenever they saw KW. No European language outside of Dutch and German has the hard 'C' sound. Thus, we see the Dutch in Azania calling and spelling themselves Afrikaaners.

We are not certain of the origin of the name Afrika, but we are sure the name spelled with 'C' came into use when Afrikans were dispersed over the world. There the 'K' symbolizes our coming back together again.

3. The 'K' symbolizes a kind of Lingua Afrikana, coming into use along with such words and phrases as Habari Gani, Osagyfo, Uhuru, Asante, together constituting one political language, although coming from more than one Afrikan language.

4. As long as Afrikan languages are translated (written) into English, etc., the European alphabet will be used. This is the problem. The letter 'K' as with the letter 'C', is part of that alphabet, and at some point must be totally discontinued with the original name of Afrika used. The fact that Boers (peasants) in Azania also use the 'K', as in Afrikan to represent the hard 'C' sound demonstrates one of the confinements of the alphabet. Azania is the original name for South Afrika.

Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").

Dr. Nantambu is an Associate Professor, Dept. of Pan-African Studies, Kent State University, U.S.A.

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