Charlize Theron mum on Afrikaans comments as story makes international headlines

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron
Photo: Frazer Harrison/WireImage/Getty Images
  • Charlize Theron sparked a firestorm in South Africa after saying that Afrikaans was heading for oblivion.
  • One of the 11 official languages in SA, Afrikaans is widely spoken by millions of people across the country and by Thursday, South Africans flooded Twitter to voice outrage or support.
  • Theron's comment went as far as making international headlines; However, the Mad Max actor has remained tight-lipped on the attention her interview has received.

Charlize Theron has sparked a firestorm in South Africa after saying that Afrikaans was heading for oblivion.

News24 was the first to report on the flippant comments the 47-year-old made in a Monday episode of the American podcast, SmartLess.

"There's about 44 people still speaking it," she told hosts Sean Hayes, Jason Bateman and Will Arnett. "It's definitely a dying language; it's not a very helpful language."

One of the 11 official languages in SA, Afrikaans is widely spoken by millions of people across the country and by Thursday, South Africans flooded Twitter to voice outrage or support.

Responses against included those from Afrikaans-speaking TV stars correcting Theron on her statement. 

Suidooster star Dean Smith told News24 in a statement: "Afrikaans is more than just a language. It's history, it's culture, it's my origin. As long as I'm alive, Afrikaans can't possibly be dead. I'm Afrikaans."

READ MORE | Local TV stars respond to Charlize Theron: 'Afrikaans is alive and kicking'

Furthermore, Theron's comment prompted responses from South African political parties, including the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus).

In support of Theron, EFF Commissar Mbuyiseni Ndlozi tweeted a picture of the Atomic Blonde star, writing, "Charlize Theron… that's the tweet."

Meanwhile, the chairperson of the Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus),  Adv Anton Alberts, told Afrinuus, "She is not up to date with what is going on in her country of birth."

Reiterating that a large portion of South Africa's population speaks Afrikaans, The Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) said in a statement to News24 on Friday: "According to Stats SA's Community Survey of 2018, Afrikaans is the 3rd most spoken language in the country, making up 12.2% of the population." 

The board added that it noted Theron's "disparaging comments with concern", adding, "The comments are not only disheartening but are disturbing as they are inaccurate and misleading.

READ MORE | 'Disturbing': Language Board hits back at Charlize Theron's comments about Afrikaans 'dying'

Now a Hollywood star, Theron was born in Benoni, Gauteng, and moved to the United States almost 30 years ago.

After becoming a trending topic this week, Theron's comment went as far as making international headlines. However, the Mad Max actor has remained tight-lipped on the attention her interview has received.

The official social media pages for the podcast, which often responds to their followers' comments, have also remained mum on responses received for the episode.


We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE