"Four Reasons for Using 'K' in Afrika"


"Four Reasons for Using 'K' in Afrika"


The Nubian Message, North Carolina State University's African American student newspaper, was first published on November 30, 1992. This short article, appearing in multiple issues of the paper throughout the 1990s, was adapted from African American poet and educator Haki Madhubuti's 1979 work, From Plan to Planet: Life Studies--The Need for Afrikan Minds and Institutions. The article, as its title suggests, provided four reasons for using the letter "K" in "Afrika," "Afrikan," and "Afrikan American." The main reason was that Africans themselves use the letter "K" in these words; Europeans "polluted" the spelling by switching the "K" to a "C" during the attempted colonization of the African continent. The article argued that the spelling change represents cultural subordination that Africans and African Americans should reject. Reverting to the "K" spelling empowered people of African descent and created the foundation for a common identity between them.

The paper's choice to use "K" in "Afrika" and related words reveals the influences of Black nationalism on student editors. Although it varies in its specifics within different nations, Black nationalism as a whole emphasizes unity and self-determination for African people and their descendants. A key tenet of Black nationalism is independence from Anglo-American society and culture, and a shift towards (or back to) African society and culture.


Haki R. Madhubuti


Haki R. Madhubuti, From Plan to Planet: Life Studies--The Need for Afrikan Minds and Institutions, in "Four Reasons for Using 'K' in Afrika," The Nubian Message 2, no. 9 (January 27, 1994): 3. Digitized by the Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.




Rose Buchanan




Four Reasons for Using "K" in Afrika
  • Most vernacular or traditional languages on the continent spell Afrika with a K; therefore the use of K is germane to us.

  • Europeans, particularly the Portuguese and British, polluted our languages by substituting C whenever they saw K or heard the K sound - as in Kongo and Congo, Akkra and Accra, Konakri and Conakry - and by substituting Q wherever they saw KW. No European language outside of Dutch and German have 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 the C came into use when Afrikans were dispersed over the world. Therefore the K symbolizes our coming back together again.
  • The K symbolizes us to [sic] 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.
  • 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 and the original name of Afrika be 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.

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Haki R. Madhubuti, “"Four Reasons for Using 'K' in Afrika",” The State of History, accessed May 20, 2024, https://soh.omeka.chass.ncsu.edu/items/show/692.