IsiZulu still most spoken language in SA

2012-10-30 10:03

Cape Town - More than a fifth of the population speak isiZulu at home, according to the Census 2011 results released on Tuesday.

Just over 11.5 million people use isiZulu as their first language, followed by isiXhosa spoken by 8 million South Africans, according to the Census conducted on October 9 last year.

Compared to 2001, the number of people speaking the two languages showed a slight downward trend.

Afrikaans remains the third most popular language in SA households.

Over 13.5% of the national population speak Afrikaans, just slightly up from the 2001 figure of 13.3%.

Afrikaans first language speakers in the Northern Cape have, however, dropped significantly from 68% in 2001 to 53.8% last year.

In the Western Cape, the number of people speaking Afrikaans as their home language also decreased from 55.3% (2001) to 49.7% in 2011.

"Just under half of the population of the Western Cape speak Afrikaans as their first language and almost a quarter speak IsiXhosa," the document says.

The number of South Africans who speak English as a first language increased by more than a million, from 3.7 million to approximately 4.9 million.

  • sanele.mqadi.9 - 2012-10-30 10:16

    Zulu ka Mageba,uMalandela ngiyaziqhenya ngolwimi lwakithi IsiZulu.

      msendi - 2012-10-30 10:24

      The most beautiful language… ever!!!

      sanda.mnyazi - 2012-10-30 10:30

      The medium of instructions in all universities should be made isiZulu

      lownabester - 2012-10-30 10:31

      gift are you stupid or what??? missing a few braincells or no brain at all.

      johann.enslin.9 - 2012-10-30 10:40

      @sanda, can just see us prospering internationally, but we can always claim it's our culture and make the world feel guilty. I can see it now, millions and millions of Chinese storming universities to study Zulu.

      gift.mushi.9 - 2012-10-30 10:58

      Average household of Zulu has 10 children, e.g Zuma has 21, King goodwill more than 20. Remember that is one man only, while other nations average is 2 children per household. Amazulu bathanda inquza.

      eddy.deepfield - 2012-10-30 11:06

      English is the main language in South Africa. Every body speaks it to each other. When their local tribal language is not understood. Same with Africa. Same with Asia. Same with the whole world. Just speak English and dump all other ten languages. They are not needed in a modern world.

      mshiniboys - 2012-10-30 12:02

      gift.mushi.9 -You mean to say most of them are business people.

      zimbobwe.mugabe - 2012-10-30 12:19

      Gift I've been saying this for a long time. Zulus are the pits look at Kwazulu Natal. All warmongers, fighting and killings in the name of ifp,nfp or anc going on and on and on. Shaka Zilu mentallity still ruling this people. Shaya, knobkerrie, sjambok,ntelezi!!!

      mondli.khumalo.16 - 2012-10-30 12:50

      Small things amuse small minds.. GIFT.MUSHI how about u buy a life... Ooh I forgot ur a shangaan ur unemployed so just bewitch some1 an sell their body parts to ur grand PA.

      gift.mushi.9 - 2012-10-30 13:04

      @mshiniboys Most of the are taxi drivers and taxi marshalls, go to every taxi rank and conduct your own census, silima.

      mshiniboys - 2012-10-30 15:24

      gift.mushi.9 that is because it is a family business you moron.At a later stage those people become taxi owners themselves.And how many is "most"? do not be overcome by teachings in your family that will make you lose logic.You need to start thinking like a man and break away from the childish stereotypes that you are brought up under.It exposes your educational level as very low.I have heard people making tribal statements everywhere but my education has made me transcend that rubbish.Go to school my brother is is never too late. Im a Zulu and nothing will change me.But I am not clever than someone from another tribe just because I work on a computer and he is herding cattle somewhere.and it does not help my ego to create a stereotype around someone who never got a good job and say that all people from his or her tribe are like that.Gees!

      mshiniboys - 2012-10-30 15:44

      zimbobwe.mugabe im not gona entertain you foreigner..You are such an ungrateful crap we gave you a comfortable place to stay now that you have an id and gave our woman one ugly child you think you have arrived.

  • Rodney - 2012-10-30 10:18

    that not true..!!

      msendi - 2012-10-30 10:24

      What is true…?

      sanele.mqadi.9 - 2012-10-30 10:28

      Rodney it is true you freak.... If u find it hard to believe go to the nearest hell.

      irene.buthelezi.1 - 2012-10-30 11:07

      Sanele just confirmed Gift's comment above.

      moriri.mosweu - 2012-10-30 16:53

      Hey masende, pull up you zip, moron.

  • nghamula.mdunwazi - 2012-10-30 10:18

    What about other languages?give us all please

  • thunder.clap.587 - 2012-10-30 10:20

    So what!

  • JuliusYouPrick - 2012-10-30 10:24

    What about about all the politicians who speak bullsh*t? Should be the most spoken language in the country if you ask me.

  • peter.ndamase - 2012-10-30 10:24

    Please give us real information!!!

  • Thandeka2Luv - 2012-10-30 10:24

    Misleading article, why show Zulu and Xhosa in numbers and subsequently show Afrikaans in percentage... Concerned South African

      sanda.mnyazi - 2012-10-30 10:31

      You do the math

      john.retief.37 - 2012-10-30 10:33

      Since they gave the %, you can work out for yourself that 6.7 million people speak Afrikaans as first language. What's misleading?

      andrez.kolesky - 2012-10-30 11:29

      @Thadeka. : Hheyi wena, akusiyo i Drum lena. (Hey you, go and comment/ read Drum (magazine))

      mpumelelo.nzimande.7 - 2012-10-30 13:07

      John "Klabus" Retief it actually 6.993 millions, it seems like you also not the sharpest pencil neh? Yaxi I hate all the racist comments, both from whites and black people, why cant we argue but stating facts and not by implying 1 race is dumber than the other? niyacika shame

      karlu.unos - 2012-10-30 14:13

      Our census shows that our national population has reached 51.8million ..Then take a calculator..-15% of that.. go back to your school and ask for ur refund

      andrez.kolesky - 2012-10-30 14:26

      @mpumelelo.nzimande.7 Ngempela!.....(Really!) Zithini ezintsha?......(What's new?)

  • bathandwa.ngoma - 2012-10-30 10:25

    It took them 365 days to release the Census 2011 reports. This is the craziest report ever; even a stupid individual can see that these findings are pure lies. Its just Mangaug made easy reports. How dare you claim that “About 60 percent of homes have a flush toilet connected to the sewerage system; about five percent have no toilets at all”. Let me not bother about their recommendations as they will justify their recommendations to suit their disgusting findings. Why taking so long to release them????

      shaylene.stenger - 2012-10-30 11:01

      I agree! I don't know if I trust these stats. You telling me only 4.9 mil speak English as there first language?

  • ivy.malema.3 - 2012-10-30 10:34

    The township where i'm staying everyone classify himself/herself as Zulu. Ndebeles,Pedi etc. They think being Zulu is a status

      maredi.mello.75 - 2012-10-30 17:00

      Those who think that claiming to be Zulu is some status symbol need to have their heads examined. I would personally feel vey insulted to be called Zulu. i am quite happy to be waht I am, Pedi!

  • - 2012-10-30 10:39

    Surely afrikaans should be replaced with Zulu

      Gaby - 2012-10-30 11:15

      I hope you are talking about at schools. My kids have to learn Afrikaans as a second language. Would it not be better to learn Zulu?

      npretorius2 - 2012-10-30 12:22

      No language should be replaced with any language. @gaby, your kids are not forced to learn Afrikaans, they might attend a school that only offers two languages and Afrikaans being one of them. That being said, I wish I could have learned Zulu or Xhosa in high school.

  • malose.kgosana.5 - 2012-10-30 10:39


      maredi.mello.75 - 2012-10-30 17:01

      Moshate Tama Kgoshi, why are they not mentioned?

  • morpheus.mafa - 2012-10-30 10:39

    So what's the point? Why single out language as a headline? Is it convenient, just about a month and half before Mangaung? I hope my friend (he is an intelligent man by the way) who is nominally Zulu but raised as a Setswana-speaking individual made the correct choice on the census forms (i.e Setswana as his home language). I am Mosotho by birth, but I can hardly speak the language( i'd love to of course), but Setswana is my home language. See this claim, in the hands of an idiot, can be catastrophic, if you know what I mean...

      DuToitCoetzee - 2012-10-30 11:33

      It can also be News24 that is playing with IsiZulu, isiXhosa and Afrikaans to get clicks and comments.

  • tsatsi.golden - 2012-10-30 11:01

    Zulu more violent

      Xulu.Thulany.Xaba - 2012-10-30 13:14

      tsatsi.golden more stupid

  • shaylene.stenger - 2012-10-30 11:02

    I don't know if I trust thes stats...especially with our corrupt goverment....

      irene.buthelezi.1 - 2012-10-30 11:08

      I don't trust them either. I'm still waiting to be counted :-)

  • eddy.deepfield - 2012-10-30 11:06

    English is the main language in South Africa. Every body speaks it to each other. When their local tribal language is not understood. Same with Africa. Same with Asia. Same with the whole world. Just speak English and dump all other ten languages. They are not needed in a modern world.

  • philani.zincume - 2012-10-30 11:08

    Mxm. Why must everything be about Mangaung? Cant we just debate about languages nje and end it at that for a change?

  • khayelihle.gumede.3 - 2012-10-30 11:12

    stupid people criticize Zulus for being proud of their language.We are proud of the Zulus they make this country known all over the world.

  • maropola.nkitsing - 2012-10-30 11:16

    Dont forget that all Zimbabwens speak Isizulu.

      dalai.rama.9 - 2012-10-30 11:45

      Some Zimbos speak Ndebele others shona; you might be surprised that they also have people who speak Tswana and Sotho.

      punungwe - 2012-10-30 11:59

      Actually 82% Zimbabweans speak Shona, 14% speak IsiNdebele. The other languages spoken are Venda, Shangaani, Kalanga, Tonga (not Tsonga), Nambya and Tswana.

  • Khayoh Mfiswah - 2012-10-30 11:29

    Am a proud Zulu man.

      maredi.mello.75 - 2012-10-30 17:03

      So What?

  • punungwe - 2012-10-30 11:51

    Zulu is the second biggest Bantu language. I have also been, several times, accused that the number of Zulus is padded by us Zimbabweans pretending to be Zulus.

  • happysangweni.khuzwayo - 2012-10-30 11:53

    IsiZulu is my Language!!! Students from overseas are in South Africa to learn it... let it not be associated with the President of this country please.

      mncwangozama - 2012-10-30 12:01

      Tue Mrs Khuzwayo , we love our mother toung ,so plz let it be!

  • Nganeziyafunana - 2012-10-30 12:02

    If we lose our languages we lose our identity.

  • Msika - 2012-10-30 12:06

    So that explains why the so called Zulu king is given R12 million a year then.

  • mshiniboys - 2012-10-30 12:17

    Afrikaans is the former forcefully spoken language.But I wish I could speak it now you know.

      gert.swart.393 - 2012-10-30 13:35

      And I wish I could speak isiZulu, but it is too complicated for me.

      mshiniboys - 2012-10-30 15:51

      you know there is a book on bidobuy that I want to buy but I doupt it will teach me to praat.I saw a Zulu one too.Try it out.

      barnie.huysamer - 2012-11-01 07:03

      I'm with you Gert. In the WC it's mostly Xhosa. I'm learning one word at a time when I meet a Xhosa speaking person. At 60 it's quite a challenge :-)

  • zonke.bonke.35 - 2012-10-30 12:43

    That's the only language that Zulus can speak or understand and there's only one reason for that,THEY ARE DUMB.

  • wackidmaledu - 2012-10-30 12:44

    is Zulu the only language in this country??

      maredi.mello.75 - 2012-10-30 17:05

      No, but is for the stubborn lot!

  • gumedemc - 2012-10-30 13:00


  • ako.gutshwa.7 - 2012-10-30 13:02

    I think it's because Zulus are not ashamed of who they are,they speak their language wherever they are. We need to applaud this because it means one of our South African language will not just disappear,and we need to stop to send negative remarks. In South Africa we are so negative that even where we suppose to give credit we criticize. shame on us

  • zakazarurwa.vuma - 2012-10-30 14:17

    @sanele thats your language baba this census people where counting 7.5 million zimbabean ndebele

  • Peter - 2012-10-30 14:35

    Zimbabwe Ndebeles are of Zulu origin Actually Mzilikazi Khumalo grand are alive visit Hope Fountain at Umthombo Themba , Enkayi, Emfelabuso or Emzinyathini.It is Mugabe who has been systematically eliminating the Zulu/Ndebeles of Zimbabwe .The Nguni languagea dialect of Zulu is widley spoken in Zwaziland, Zimbabwe it is the most dominant language is SADC region

      maredi.mello.75 - 2012-10-30 17:07

      They are still Zimbabweans and not South African. They probably have fake ID's too.

      punungwe - 2012-10-30 21:52

      Get your facts right. Zulu is a dialect of Nguni, not the other way round. The dialects of Nguni are Xhosa, Swati, Zulu and Ndebele. Of the individually recognised languages Shona is the most widely spoken Bantu Language (East, Central and Southern Africa). Shona is the seventh most widely spoken native language the whole of Africa. Native languages more widely spoken than Shona are found in Nigeria (Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa/Fulani, Ijaw) and Ethiopia (Amharic, Oromo). Nguni per se is not classified as a language. Why I don't know?. If we were to group related languages then the Shona group would include Venda, Kalanga, Nambya, Tawara (Mozambique), Bemba (Zambia) and Sena (Mozambique). Ndebele spoken in Zimbabwe has been heavily influenced by Shona and English.

  • Peter - 2012-10-30 14:51

    Its true Zulus arein plenty in Zimbabwe seconadry schools offer zulu/ndebele as an examinable subject e.g Uhlelo lwesizulu , inkisela yase mgugundlovu, They are plently zulu chiefs in Matebeleland i.e Chief Mabikwa Khumalo in Lupane, Chief Ngangezwe Khumalo in Nkayi, Chief Gumede in Lupane, Chief Mathuphula Khumalo in Tsholothsoand many more

      maredi.mello.75 - 2012-10-30 17:08

      We do not need to know about Zimbabweans in Zimbabwe. This census was about South Africans and not fence jumpers.

      suidlander.vanwyk - 2012-10-30 17:31

      maredi you are killing me man, lol

  • mshiniboys - 2012-10-30 15:09

    zimbobwe.mugabe you somalians come here from your dead country and get a nice place to stay.You start talking rubbish when your butts are comfortable in the sand.That is why you talk rubish now.

  • mosotho.stone - 2012-10-30 15:55

    I believe here are some of the reasons: 1. Limited exposure to the country and its people as a whole...An average High Grade Zulu speaker knows only Joburg (eGoli) and 30km radius of their rural home surroundings (ask anyone directions to Melmoth when you in Ladysmith as proof) 2. Political Favouritism of Ngunis in leadership (Zulu & Xhosa) 3. Lack of tolerance and regard for other tribes' values and existence. 4. Historical Prejudice and undermining tendencies based on battles of the past. 5. Literal, educational and socio-economic challenges (mostly self inflicted). 6. Cultural/Traditional practice by English-speaking media (mostly not even accurate due to their own limited knowledge of African languages) 8. Inability to explore and comprehend other languages. It is very rare to find a Nguni or English speaking person who is interested in any other language or know more than just their original language. They practice monolingualism religiously. 9. Tribal languages closer to the language in dialect (Nguni group)complement Zulu & Xhosa respectively. 10. Over-reproduction, infidelity and lack of birth control.

      maredi.mello.75 - 2012-10-30 17:10


  • Andrea - 2012-10-30 15:55

    Just remember, the isiZulu stops at the airport, as soon as you leave you unfortunately will HAVE to be able to speak at least English.

      punungwe - 2012-10-30 21:55

      Even at ORT you are better off speaking Tswana and Sotho. It's in Gauteng remember.

  • mlungisi.phakathi - 2012-10-30 15:58

    This is not surprising as Zulus we take pride in our language and we are not compromised to follow other peoples languages (even though we learn them as second or third), now this statistics should be used to lobby for afrikans to be replaced as a second language in court documents and in acts of parliament. Language is a powerful tool and it should be used to properly represent the demographics. Reallyy it makes no sense that Afrikans is a second language (in legislation) whereas more than 80% of the country doesn't speak and sometimes understand it. 100 South African

  • mosotho.stone - 2012-10-30 16:06

    Rectifying point number 6 & 8 6. Outdated Cultural/Traditional practices and Shaka Zulu stories heavily endorsed and covered by self-centred English-speaking media (mostly not even accurate due to their own limited knowledge of African languages and people) 8. Inability to explore and comprehend other languages. It is very rare to find a Nguni or English speaking person who is multilingual and interested in any other language or know more than just their original language and English. They practice bilingualism religiously. They Speak English only to fulfil the book.

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