Latin music and football spread spanish-language culture in Africa

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By LatAm Reports Editor

The growing interest in Spanish language and culture across Africa, fueled largely by Latin music and football, was a key focus at the Third Meeting of Hispanists Africa-Spain held in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain. This gathering brought together Spanish language educators from 18 nations in West and Central Africa, highlighting a trend where over two million young Africans are now learning Spanish.

José Segura, the director of Africa House, noted the rising popularity of Spanish among the youth, distinguishing it from traditional colonial languages. Carmen Pastor, director of the Cervantes Institute, underscored this growth, pointing out that Spanish is the second most widely spoken mother tongue globally. The Cervantes Institute, dedicated to promoting Spanish worldwide, reports that Spanish speakers make up 6.2% of the global population.

In many African countries, formerly under French rule, Spanish is now taught as a second foreign language alongside English. Cuba’s role in this trend is notable, with the country providing scholarships to African students who then return home to teach Spanish.

Seydou Koné, Head of Teacher Training at Ecole Normale Supérieure in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, emphasized the country’s focus on the Spanish language over its culture. He remarked on the influence of phrases like “adiós, hasta la vista” from Western films and soap operas. In educational settings, works of Hispanic authors such as José María Arguedas, Gabriel García Márquez, Miguel Ángel Asturias, Camilo José Cela, and Carmen Laforet are studied.

Jane Nzisa, from the United States International University-Africa in Nairobi, highlighted the eagerness of many Kenyans to learn Spanish, though she pointed out the challenge of a shortage of qualified teachers. This trend across Africa reflects a broader engagement with Spanish culture through various mediums, including entertainment and sports, shaping a new linguistic landscape on the continent.