Ensuring that African languages are offered in all schools is a critical step toward actively promoting it, the ANC said on Heritage Day.
“Apartheid and colonialism degraded and marginalised African languages. In this regard, we support President Cyril Ramaphosa when he says, ‘There is no language in this country that is superior to another ... There is no language we can say belongs to the past and must stay there ... Every single language spoken in this country has equal value and equal worth’,” party spokesperson Pule Mabe said in a statement.
“All South Africans must be encouraged by President Ramaphosa's commitment that by the end of next year, we are aiming to ensure that all of South Africa’s 23 000 public schools offer an African language. This is a very progressive and revolutionary intervention.”
Heritage Day 2019 was observed under the theme “Celebrating South Africa’s literacy classics in the year of indigenous languages”, Mabe said.
“The United Nations General Assembly declared 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages. South Africa’s Constitution guarantees freedom of linguistic, cultural and religious association. The ANC believes that this is critical for nation-building and social cohesion.”
Mabe said the party agreed with Ramaphosa that preserving SA’s heritage involved the “restoration of land to the landless”.
“As part of affirming our heritage and identity, we have a responsibility to urgently address the land question. The culture and history of South Africans remain rooted in the land. Stripping our people of their land was tantamount to stripping them of their identity and heritage. The ANC believes that people without land are people without identity and culture,” he said.
“Let us make a solemn commitment to promote and defend the rights of all South Africans as part of our struggle heritage. We must never rest nor tire until the rights of women, children, people with disabilities and every South African are protected and respected. Then and only then can we truly say that we are true to the democratic and human rights ideals that constitute part of our collective heritage.”
Cultural tolerance is critical to building a nation that is united in its diversity, Mabe said.
“All of us, despite our different cultures and traditions, remain one nation and have a duty to live together in peace and harmony in pursuit of a shared identity.
“The ANC calls on all South Africans to dig deep their collective heritage of struggle in order to defeat poverty, unemployment and inequality. Rising up everyday to conquer adversity and divisions is part of our proud heritage.”
- Compiled by Tammy Petersen