The African face of Afrikaans speakers is what really matters!

2016-06-06 16:05

The Afrikaans community is anything but homogeneous.

It is characterised by diverse ethnic identities, historical experiences, education levels, ideological viewpoints, cultural backgrounds and economic interests. With regard to the latter, many have extensive economic interests, while many others struggle to make a living. And since their worlds are so far apart, it is not surprising that their outlook on life and their political loyalties differ so dramatically with regard to content, interpretation and the practical realisation thereof.

Some struggle or refuse to adapt to the new democratic order. They experience it as excluding and alienating them. Symptomatic of this alienation are the "new" sub-identities which Afrikaans-speaking individuals and these groups have carved out for themselves in many areas to make their voices heard.

But then there are many who regard themselves foremost as Africans and South Africans and who are embracing our new democratic dispensation. They use their talents and networks for the greater good!

With regard to the Afrikaans language, many members of the Afrikaans community see its continued use as an integral part of many areas of their lives, and as a means to help guarantee their economic existence and survival as a unique ethno-cultural community.

However, many Afrikaans-speaking people see opportunities in an open ecosystem where Afrikaans plays a limited role. Hence, loyalties toward, for and through Afrikaans differ from one home to the next, within families and also within the broader social order.

Very interesting is the creative use of Afrikaans within the economic sphere. Not only are various language products and services created through Afrikaans, but speakers of the language also play a leading role in many other sectors to grow the South African economy and ensuring a steady flow of taxes to the state coffers.

Afrikaans speakers and the Afrikaans language are sources of creativity, vitality and productivity contributing in a phenomenal way to our country, our continent and all its people.

It is therefore in nobody's interest to destroy this source of very humble creole origins. Besides Dutch, Khoi-Khoi had the biggest influence on Afrikaans, followed by Portuguese, Malay, our local languages, French and German. Its therefore in everybody's interest that it is maintained and strengthened as a language of learning for the purpose of creating greater prosperity and more employment opportunities for all of its speakers.

In addition many Afrikaans people are actively serving the broader population in various areas. Many non-government organisations, churches, cultural organisations, individuals and the social arm of business organisations empower people through Afrikaans, English as well as our other indigenous languages.

In doing so, Afrikaans-speaking people create mutual understanding and form new partnerships to unite South Africans in the struggle against various social ills.

These actions are driven by means of active citizenry to fight issues such as corruption, racism, discrimination, poor service delivery, unemployment, crime and injustice. Afrikaans-speaking people, in collaboration with fellow citizens, therefore actively help to strengthen South Africa's status as a liberal democracy.

However, the role of Afrikaans in this regard is extremely ambivalent. In circles where there is a sharp focus on community building with strong parochial and racist underpinnings, Afrikaans is often used to exclude and to perpetuate the racial myths of the past. This creates conflict and is divisive. Given the baggage that Afrikaans is saddled with, the question arises whether such an approach is beneficial to the broader Afrikaans and South African community in any way.

The media and the broader Afrikaans community however have a critical role to play in this regard.

That is to present those who continue to live in the past as representative of the sum total of the Afrikaans community and of Afrikaans. Or to present the true African face! That is the broader and diverse picture of the economic, social and nation-building role of Afrikaans community. Its contribution to the greater good of all South Africans and Africa.

Presenting Afrikaans speakers as true Africans is in fact all that really matters!

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