Why is Afrikaans still so prominent?

2016-07-13 06:00

I WAS two years old during the Soweto uprising and grew up not knowing the significance of the sacrifices made by the youth of that time. As a child I did not understand apartheid, neither did I question why I had to learn Afrikaans.

Now that I have my own children and we live in a democratic South Africa, I ask why this big representation of apartheid is still a part of my life and that of my children.

I have not had the need to use Afrikaans in all my life, English being the language most people communicate in. By all means, teach Afrikaans to children whose parents prefer it, but do not impose it on others. Certainly do not make it compulsory, nor a factor that affects passing the year.

We call ourselves a rainbow nation, but our languages are limited to two.

English is the most commonly spoken language and can be used almost everywhere to communicate. Afrikaans and any other official language should be an optional extra. Furthermore, calling Afrikaans a “first additional home language” is a complete misnomer, because it is not the home language in most cases. We find ourselves still learning a language “forced” on us 40 years later, and so the deaths on Soweto Day go unrewarded. We remember the dead but we haven’t won their fight.



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