People who criticise the current minimum pass rate are deliberately ignorant of the dangerous conditions the apartheid and colonial education systems have created and the need for radical change in order to achieve a true rainbow nation. Their arguments are indicative of people who still hold the view that a master’s language will always be non-African. Amazingly, they hold on to such a notion despite the evidence that it impedes the participation of non-African language speakers in crucial roles such those in local government.
We come from an era in which Africans had to learn the master’s language in order to access opportunities in the service of whites. In that era, which is not long ago by the way, it was common to hear Africans criticising each other for not having excellent command of the master’s language.
Today many Africans encourage their kids to speak their mother tongue and in most cases, they do so to discourage fluency in English. This attitude is common even among those who send their kids to English only schools. This therefore, created people who are seen as a lost generation of twangs by their fellows and mistaken by some who call them “born frees”. Lucky enough, Mandela’s passing brought them up to date with regard to our history and have saved them from becoming a generation that would lived with a burden of blame for selling our hard won liberty.
The truth is that South Africa, being a democratic country, demands one to learn the language of majority in order to access opportunities in the service of that majority. We have seen throughout history that skill alone is not enough. The skill of Africans, for an example, was not recognised until they were able to speak the language of the master. It is for this reason that we need to wake up to the fact that South Africa is an African country and thus will always have Africans as majority. Therefore, we must adjust ourselves accordingly because there may no longer be a coy smile response to the mispronunciation, the changing of “difficult” African names and speaking of African languages the wrong way as it used to be in the past.
I say we, not because I am white, but because, like many of my contemporaries, I have learned almost all my school subjects in English save for the one “mother tongue” subject and Afrikaans. I put the mother tongue in quotation marks because it is not the language we spoke at home. Had I not recognised my condition, I'd have been like all those I criticise so badly. Lucky enough, I did and made required amends.
Because the education system has not yet adequately transformed, we still have many ‘intelligent’ people in rural areas who cannot find a space in their community platforms due to the language factor. Many of the ‘intelligent’ and ‘educated’ people resort to psychological migration despite physically residing in rural areas.
There are many people like that, just look around. If you are not one of them, you have a relative. A typical educated person of apartheid and colonial era is socially reclusive and may not even have anything that denote progress such as marriage, but boasts in his/her command of English and adherence to western imperialism despite the fact that it no longer have material advantage. The current education system is devised to ensure that the National Democratic Revolution must not catch us napping and dreaming of the ‘blissful’ past and wake up to start seeking little crevices to hide or for preservation of past legacies. It provides a platform for building our aspired unity in diversity and brings us up to speed to the reality of a free and prosperous South Africa