[lg policy] Botswana: Promote and safeguard local languages - Van der Westhuisen

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Sat Feb 28 14:43:15 UTC 2015

Promote and safeguard local languages - Van der Westhuisen

Batswana should promote and safeguard local languages to avoid the risk of
them disappearing, says Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural
Development, Frans Van der Westhuisen.   By Nnasaretha Kgamanyane
<http://www.mmegi.bw/index.php?aid=2172> Wed 25 Feb 2015, 11:03 am (GMT +2)

   - * :* Van der Westhuisen
   - <http://www.mmegi.bw/2015/february/25/phpE6E9.tmp.jpg>

    He said this during the commemoration of the National Languages Day
commemoration held in Middlepits last week. “Experts have advised that
languages face the risk of disappearing should nothing be done to promote
and safeguard them. The commemoration of the National Languages Day
therefore is indicative of Government commitment to ensure that local
languages do not disappear from our cultural heritage,” said Van der

He also said the National Policy on Culture identified the preservation and
promotion of languages as a vehicle for cultural expression, adding that
Vision 2016 also encouraged Batswana to uphold the spirit of unity,
tolerance and respect through the appreciation of each other’s languages
and culture. He added that this was in line with UNESCO’s goal of adopting
sustainable national language policies to achieve linguistic diversity and

Van der Westhuisen also said it was that spirit the Government recognised
that local or community languages needed to be developed to enhance
cultural identity and social cohesion. He further said the theme for the
National Languages Day 2015, ‘My language, My pride’, inculcated a sense of
pride in everybody, regardless of which language they spoke.  “I am
informed that there are about six major languages spoken in this area being
Sengologa, Setlharo, Seherero, Sesarwa, Sekgothu and Afrikaans. I believe
that these languages may also be spoken in other parts of Botswana
particularly across the Kgalagadi and the Ghanzi districts enabling us to
interact with other Batswana from those areas,” he said.

Van der Westhuisen further said language research and development was
critical for young nations such as Botswana. He urged educationists,
publishing houses and researchers, to help in the promotion and use of
local languages. He said through research and documentation a lot could be
achieved in terms of growth and sustenance of our various community and
national languages.  He also said it was imperative to write and produce
dictionaries, orthographies, music and other types of formats that would
promote, and share local languages with the rest of the world.

Van der Westhuisen noted that his ministry supported various activities of
cultural organisations aimed at promoting local languages. He encouraged
communities to form cultural organisations aimed at promoting their culture
and language. The United Nations General Assembly launched the
International Year of Languages, under the auspices of UNESCO, in 2008.

On February 21, 2009, Botswana adopted it as National Languages Day. The
first commemoration was held in Molepolole in 2010.
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