South Africa: Users save languages

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sun Mar 29 22:11:48 UTC 2009

Users save languages
 Published:Mar 29, 2009

The sensational article by Mamphela Ramphele on African languages —
“Here, mother tongue clashes with her mother’s tongue” (March 8) —
generates more heat than light on what the government is doing to
promote and preserve indigenous languages. Sandile Memela, spokesman
for the minister of arts and culture  It’s proper that we set the
record straight. It remains our primary mandate not only to generate
meaningful social intervention strategies, but to ensure that
multilingual ability becomes a practical reality for all South African

We insist that all 11 languages are equal and this is enshrined in the
constitution. But it is for self-loving and proud Africans themselves
to be agents of the change they want to see. As far as the Department
of Arts and Culture is concerned, we have delivered a strategic
National Language Policy Framework for the implementation of the
constitutional mandate on language. Over the last three years, we
channelled R1-billion to refurbish and build libraries and promote a
culture of reading and writing. Our indigenous languages will survive,
especially if people themselves do something to promote and protect
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