Language is the mother tongue

2019-02-28 06:02
Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture Maggie Sotyu encouraging learners to read to understand.PHOTOS: UNATHI OBOSE.

Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture Maggie Sotyu encouraging learners to read to understand.PHOTOS: UNATHI OBOSE.

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Friday last week was International Mother Language Day.

Learners and educators who converged at the Thusong Hall in Khayelitsha to commemorate the day, were encouraged to learn and speak their mother tongues both at school and at home to be able to preserve their culture.

Vernacular languages are gradually fading away because, it is claimed, the very same people who are supposed to hold them in high regard, are the ones looking down on these languages.

Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture Maggie Sotyu, provincial minister for Arts and Culture Anroux Marais and other academics from various South African universities, were in attendance.

Choral music was on the menu. A traditional dance group from Chris Hani Arts and Culture High School entertained the guests.

Former Generations actor Dumisani Mbebe said living in a diverse society needs people to be flexible and be able to speak multiple languages.

He said acting is no longer an extra-mural activity but a career choice.

“Language is your identity together with your attire and the games you play,” said Mbebe.

Dr Eddy Maepa, Executive Director at the National Library of South Africa, encouraged learners to read in order to become good leaders.

“We need to elevate our languages because, in the olden days, our languages were ignored. Even now you’ll find children speaking English, both at school and at home and that doesn’t assist us in the development of our languages,” said Maepa.

He added that the government can initiate the process, but society needs to take responsibility, to ensure (the process) succeeded.

Sotyu said: “It is important for our children to know where they are coming from to be able to know where they are going ... And these problems cannot be overcome if the parents are not involved,” said Sotyu.

She encouraged learners to read for understanding rather than be fluent.

“When we replenish libraries with books, they must cater for the majority of the community in that particular area, We can’t have more Afrikaans books in a library dominated by Xhosa speaking people” said Sotyu.

Sinethemba High School educator Fundiswa Burneli described the event as very educational to the learners.

She said it encouraged them be proud of who they are.

While Yolisa Qangani (15), a Grade 9 learner at Nelson Mandela High School in Crossroads said: “I’ve learned that it is important to learn all the languages to be able to communicate with different people.”

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