Khaya Dlanga

Twanging ANCYL president in our lifetime

2012-01-31 08:00

It will be some time before we have an African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) leader that has a twang. For one, those who twang believe that being members of such organisations as the ANCYL is somehow beneath them because it is filled with non-twangers. Of course they will not say this openly. They will use all sorts of good English to justify why they do not join the league. At the end of the day, it really is a class issue. In order for the league to represent all sectors of South Africa, all sectors must participate.

People must stop laughing at those who do not twang. The ability to twang does not automatically mean intelligence.

For me, there is no difference between twangers and non-twangers who want to make this country great. Chances are the twanger and the non-twanger are both originally from some township. One just had the opportunity to go to a Model C school, which resulted in the ability to speak a more polished English - and possibly hit on white girls. The ideals that both people have for the country are generally similar. Both want economic freedom – regardless of how they speak. Let us not forget that.

Perhaps I should explain what a twang is for those who don’t know what it is.

For a very long time, black folk (a side note to some of you News24 commentators, you may now commence and comment about how my columns are always about race even though you haven’t finished reading the column). Where was I? Oh yes, black folk.

For a long time, blacks only had access to Bantu Education and didn’t mingle with people from other races because law prohibited it. As a result, the only accents they could have were heavy traditional African accents. We didn’t spend enough time with white people for us to be able to pick their accents. Our parents spoke very correct English. But instead of saying, “I’m looking for parking,” at the shopping mall, they say, “I’m looking for perking.”

Then came the 90s. Nelson Mandela walked out of prison with a clenched fist and with that, we were allowed into white schools. And so, for the first time, little black girls and little black boys could mingle with little white girls and little white boys. As a result, we were able to pick up and develop a new accent. The Model C black accent.

It is not exactly white, but it is much closer to the white accent and further from the traditional black English accent. Does that make sense? If not, I’ll blame it on my black accent. Yes, my fingers have an accent.

As part of the first batch of black township kids who went to white schools, random strangers would ask me on the streets to speak English. Sometimes I’d have grownups from the neighbourhood coming to “visit” my mother when all they really wanted to do was force me to speak English because it was a miracle for them to see such a young black child speak such good English.

The Model C black accent is the newest and youngest in South Africa. It is also widely considered to be the best one to possess. It is the accent of Lindiwe Mazibuko as opposed to that of Julius Malema. You are more likely to give a favourable impression when you speak to people with your Model C accent than with a Julius one, for example. Some will assume you’re smarter simply because of your Model C accent.

It is sad because no one thinks that an Italian or Russian with a poor command of English is less intelligent, yet a black South African with a heavy Xhosa accent is somehow considered to be of questionable intelligence. All South Africans need to fix that mindset. Having said that, we still need an ANCYL president with a Model C accent in our lifetime.

If one looks at friendship circles, one will find that those circles are filled with Model C accented blacks or twangers if you wish. No non-twangers to be seen.

One of two things might happen in the future if twangers continue to shun politics. Non-twangers will control and dominate politics. The economy will be filled with twangers. But that’s a story for another day.

One can’t influence the debate from the outside. If the league is to have a twanging ANCYL president, then the twangers must join. The party is for those who want to make a difference in the future of the country. The future presidents of the ANC are already in the structures of the ANC. They have leadership positions; they are not trying to twang, they are trying to lead. And that is to be commended. On the other hand the twangers sit back and lament about the direction the country is taking. The “well-spoken” people need to join the ANCYL and mould it to what they want it to become. Without you, it will remain what it is.

Those who think that that the ANCYL would be less radical if it had twangers have another think coming. I know people with Model C accent who are more radical than Malema.

I know that some of you are thinking that I must submarine before I parachute. Comrades, I submarine.


Twangers of the world unite! Are-man-dler! Are-where-two!

- Follow Khaya on Twitter.

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