Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

In defense of mandatory Zulu classes

18 May 2013

isiZulu, or Zulu (zul), is the most widely spoken native language in South Africa and is spoken by about half of the population.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal has announced it will make Zulu classes mandatory for incoming students, a move that has drawn criticism.

As Pierre De Vos explains in “KZN University: A storm in a (Zulu) teacup,” this policy is not unconstitutional and should not be compared to linguistic policies in the era of apartheid.

Literature and vocabulary development in Zulu

8 May 2012

Zulu (zul), or isiZulu as the language is known in Zulu, is by no means endangered. With more than 10 million speakers and status as an official language of South Africa, Zulu is a vibrant, thriving language. Indeed, in November 2010, a Zulu edition of South Africa’s Daily Times was launched (“Sunday Times to print Zulu edition“).

But to Oxford graduate and contributors to the Zulu edition, Phiwayinkosi Mbuyazi, Zulu lacks an adequate literature. He has launched Mbuyazi Publishing to rectify that and has three books so far (either published in the publishing process).

In addition to writing those three books, Phiwayinkosi Mbuyazi has also developed an alternative numbering system for Zulu and introduced some 450 words to the language.

Khoe-Khoegowab film to premiere on July 15

12 July 2011

Known for her award winning film “Hip Hop Revolution” and other productions, filmmaker Weaam Williams has turned her skills to Khoe-Khoegowab or Khoekhoe (family), a language continuum once commonly referred to as “Hottentot” but now considered derogatory.

Although South Africa has 11 official languages, Khoekhoe is not one of them and it is in danger of dying.

On July 15, the first of Williams’s three-part series, “A Khoe Story Part 1: Reclaiming the Mother Tongue” will be screened at the Labia in Cape Town, South Africa.

Read the article “New SA doc explores dying indigenous language” on the ScreenAfrica website for more information.


A call to value all languages of South Africa

16 June 2011

On June 16, 1976, students led by Tsietsi Mashinini protested the compulsory use of Afrikaans (afr) in South African schools. The event is known as the Soweto Uprising and is remembered as Youth Day, a national holiday.

The era of apartheid ended in 1994, and today South Africa has eleven official languages. In addition to Afrikaans and English, they are:

In commemoration of this holiday, Chris Swepu, acting chief executive officer of the Pan South African Language Board, exhorts South Africans to celebrate their linguistic heritage with pride, allowing all to speak their native tongues so they might live to their full potential. Read his essay “Restoring our national pride” in the Star.

See also “Task Force to Study African Language Requirement” on this blog.

Task Force to Study African Language Requirement

7 April 2011

South Africa has 11 official languages. Only Afrikaans (a descendant of Dutch) and English were official until 1994, when nine other Bantu languages were added. Today, English is the primary language of government, and both English and Afrikaans are used prominently in commerce.

Despite such usage, in terms of speaker population in South Africa, Zulu has 10 million and Xhosa has 7.8 million, greatly outnumbering Afrikaans at 4.7 million speakers and English at 3.6 million. Additionally, Northern and Souther Sotho have 4.1 and 4.2 million speakers, respectively. The other five languages have about 8 million speakers.

Therefore people speaking Afrikaans or English are unable to communicate with vast numbers of their fellow South Africans, a fact that has caught the attention of Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande. He has proposed that all university students be required to learn at least one African language as a condition for graduation.

According to “PanSALB seconds call to revive African languages” on the BuaNews site, the Pan South African Language Board welcomes this announcement. The article cites acting CEO Chris Swepu of PanSALB as saying, “…most university graduates who work in government can’t speak to the public because they don’t know an African language.”

As demonstrated by the article “Students differ over African languages plan” on the Sowetan website, Nzimande’s call is controversial.

According to “Students could need an African language to graduate – Nzimande” on the City Press site, an advisory panel has been asked to look into the issue.

While this announcement does not directly relate to any endangered language, the potential decision to add this sort of language to graduation requirements has application to many endangered language situations.

The PanSALB strives for equal status among the official languages as well as Kxoe (xuu), Khoekhoe (naq), San (unclear) and South African Sign Language (sfs).