afrikaans language of the oppressor

A good number of Damaras and Namas also use Afrikaans as their second home language. If it is truly about expanding access, then surely the more quality dual-medium universities we have, the better. The language of Afrikaans remains a contested issue in South Africa. The expedient way to deal with these wedge issues would be to either withdraw from the debate altogether and let it blow over, or to weigh up the pros and cons and then side with the least damaging view. The institution has to find ways to continue to advance Afrikaans without the perceptions and experiences of racist behaviour associated with early and ruling Afrikaner nationalist practices. Black South Africans widely criticized the decree because they viewed Afrikaans, as Desmond Tutu, Bishop of Johannesburg, put it, as the "language of the oppressor." However, being ‘nearly’ equal is a point of contention for the Afrikaner people and Afrikaans speakers. The slogan was rightly an emotive, visceral response to Afrikaner ethnic, nationalist hegemony and its concomitant coercive state power. It’s essential to consider the current status of Afrikaans, as well as its history. The debate over Afrikaans rises from South Africa’s deep racial divisions. However, it also obscured the experiences, lives and histories of black and non-nationalist Afrikaans speakers. This is an edited, updated version of an article Prof Willemse wrote for Mistra in 2015. It would be to his advantage to know both languages". In the Western Cape, more people speak Afrikaans as a first language than any other language, and the majority of these people are not white. Portsmouth, Hampshire, Online talk: Prof Sir Andy Haines and Prof Chris Dye in Conversation: "Building back healthier: climate change, health and the recovery from Covid-19" We have never said this. The film reclaims and liberates Afrikaans from its reputation as the language of the oppressor, taking it back to the people who own it. To know the strength and weakness of your opponent is one of the elementary rules in a fight.” Whither the Black Consciousness Movement? The 1994 Consensus, and the vision that Nelson Mandela had for South Africa, was about embracing diversity and building diverse institutions. Author: Michael Le Cordeur. If you do not support the simplified majoritarian and politically correct view, then you are vilified as anti-transformation, pro-privilege, and even racist. But this must always happen alongside, and not at the expense of English. The slogan was rightly an emotive, visceral response to Afrikaner ethnic, nationalist hegemony and its concomitant coercive state power. It was the language of the rulers of this period, the Afrikaners, and became known during the years of struggle against this system as "the language of the oppressor". Birmingham, Warwickshire, Online talk: Net zero – why and how? This is not something you discard simply to appease those who happen to shout the loudest. The slogan was rightly an emotive, visceral response to Afrikaner ethnic, nationalist hegemony and its concomitant coercive state power. The slogan was rightly an emotive, visceral response to Afrikaner ethnic, nationalist hegemony and its concomitant coercive state power. Because the DA is such a diverse party that brings people from all walks of life together around ideas and values, rather than constructs like race or language, we have to deal with far more wedge issues than any other party. Four years ago a student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Zinhle Nkosi, was awarded her PhD in Education. The Conversation UK receives funding from these organisations. It is perhaps useful to ask this: If we were dealing here with a university that had a fifty year-old tradition of academic excellence in another African language – say isiXhosa – would we be having this debate? An African might find that ‘the big boss’ spoke only Afrikaans or English. The policy was deeply unpopular since Afrikaans was regarded by some as the language of the oppressor. University of Pretoria provides funding as a partner of The Conversation AFRICA. Over the better part of a century, Afrikaans has developed into a highly capable academic language in fields that range from arts and the humanities, to complex science and medicine. Afrikaans was labelled “the language of the oppressor”. On June 16, 1976 students took to the streets to protest a government decree that they be taught only in Afrikaans, which they derisively called “the language of the oppressor.” Soweto, 1976 Many South Africans of every hue have contributed to the language’s formation and development. And in Stellenbosch it would be Afrikaans or English. Removing Afrikaans as a primary language of instruction at a university with such a rich Afrikaans academic history, and which services a predominately Afrikaans community, will do the exact opposite. One gets the sense that, for many, this is not just about removing Afrikaans from Stellenbosch, but from wider society. Along with this diversity comes a geographic concentration of languages. Would the same critics be vocal in their opposition of this language as a primary medium of instruction? The Eastern Cape has a majority of isiXhosa speakers, in KZN it is isiZulu, in the Free State it is Sesotho and so on. — They also minimised the role and place of black Afrikaans speakers in the broader speech community. This is but one example of a well-known tradition of a'jami scripts produced in the Cape Muslim community in the latter half of the 19th century and well into the 1950s. South Africa is a diverse society. However, it also obscured the experiences, lives and histories of black and non-nationalist Afrikaans speakers. Professor Links said young nonwhites had not rejected Afrikaans as the so-called language of the oppressor. To give some historical perspective: this was as early as the second British occupation of the Cape Colony. In 1860 one of the students in a Cape Town madrasah (an Islamic school), a descendant of slaves, copied a prayer in his exercise book. Apart from the fact that some formerly oppressed groups use Afrikaans as their mother tongue; Afrikaans is also employed by the working class when they communicate across ethnic lines – especially those who were born before independence. The language of the oppressor. Not only was the language labelled the “language of the oppressor”, introducing multigenerational antagonism against it, but these policies also caused deep levels of alienation among generations of first language speakers. A school board there was dismissed in early February for resisting the imposition of Afrikaans. This is the inscription on the pathway that leads up to the Afrikaans Taalmonument (‘Afrikaans Language Monument’) in Paarl, South Africa. It is important that we have this conversation, but at the end of the day we must respect the autonomy of the University of Stellenbosch. This is meant to be about expanding access to opportunities through higher education. Before we dismiss the rights of Afrikaans students to continue receiving mother tongue instruction, we should ask ourselves what effect this would have on diversity, as well as access to education at the institution. Professor of Afrikaans, University of Pretoria. Online talk: Net zero – why and how? Afrikaans is called the language of the oppressor. Also, that their worldview was the only significant expression of being Afrikaans speaking. One thing that makes South Africa’s situation interesting is Afrikaans. They sought to write a nationalist history of oppressors and victims (also Giliomee). In a disastrous policy decision, Afrikaans was imposed as a language of instruction on black, non-Afrikaans speakers in 1974. Moreover, lacking fluency in Afrikaans, African teachers and pupils experienced first-hand the negative impact of the new policy in the classroom. Today, more than two decades into a democratic South Africa, Afrikaner nationalism has been severely diminished and along with it the standing of Afrikaans in the public sector. Under apartheid, language was deployed as a tool of tribalism, in the service of this divide-and-rule policy. Today, more than a dozen students at the university are conducting their master’s degrees in isiZulu. I think we all know the answer to that. Like so many debates these days, Twitter hashtags and protest slogans have reduced the issue to a binary “for” and “against” choice. Arabic-Afrikaans was also used in daily communication, the making of shopping lists and political pamphlets. The Stellenbosch language debate has proven to be a hugely polarising issue. — For them Afrikaans was “a pure Germanic language” of “purity, simplicity, brevity and vigour” (quoted in Giliomee). In these circumstances it is both practicable and beneficial to run the university as a completely dual-medium institution. This a very slippery slope. This way, no one would be denied the opportunity to study at any given university because of their language. Afrikaans was labelled “the language of the oppressor”. The impact was the point of ignition for the Soweto uprising in 1976 and along with it, suspicion of its speakers. Given the demographics of the Western Cape and the history of Stellenbosch, it is “reasonably practicable” to receive instruction in Afrikaans there. Images of the 1976 Soweto uprising are invoked. The Genootskap van Regte Afrikaanders (GRA, the Society of True Afrikaners), established in 1875, actively sought to foster a nationalism among white Cape Dutch speakers. language, Afrikaans has suffered historically because of its association with the 40-odd years of apartheid. Hein Willemse does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. Last year, he said, more than … The opinion of Chief Justice Lord JH de Villiers quoted in Herman Giliomee’s The Afrikaners: Biography of a People, was that this language was. Would they call it exclusionary and discriminatory and call for it to be demoted? They are the group that first introduced Islam to South Africa, and were the first to use written Afrikaans. Afrikaans (UK: / ˌ æ f r ɪ ˈ k ɑː n s /, US: / ˌ ɑː f-/) is a West Germanic language spoken in South Africa, Namibia and, to a lesser extent, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.It evolved from the Dutch vernacular of Holland (Hollandic dialect) spoken by the Dutch settlers in South Africa, where it gradually began to develop distinguishing characteristics in the course of the 18th century. Afrikaans was labelled “the language of the oppressor”. These are the words of Punt Janson who was the Deputy Minister of the Bantu Education at the time. It was derided by the upper classes of the Cape Colony, be they Dutch or English-speaking. Nonetheless, in the private spheres of culture, private education, the media and subscription television Afrikaans has seen an exponential growth. Afrikaans, the official language during South Africa’s Apartheid era, often occupies a politicised space as the ‘ colonial ’ language of the White Afrikaner oppressor. Around 1870 the first steps towards the battle between various views on the nature of Cape Dutch, or what would become known as Afrikaans, were taken. The controversy over the medium of instruction at traditionally Afrikaans universities such as Stellenbosch has brought this to the fore again. The language has a rich academic vocabulary, it has journals and libraries of published literature, and Afrikaans academics are respected across the world. In denying the commonality of their fellow Afrikaans speakers who were descendants of slaves, indigenous people or simply poor, they were elevating the language to a narrow ethnic nationalist cause. Afrikaans was labelled “the language of the oppressor”. It’s a figure that will by all indications increase significantly in the next decade. Afrikaans was labelled 'the language of the oppressor'. — We do not advocate for the status quo, where certain courses are exclusively offered in Afrikaans, and we also do not agree with reducing Afrikaans to a mere support language at the university. Rather than viewing Afrikaans through a single lens it is today acknowledged as an amalgam consisting of a variety of expressions, speakers and histories. This a very slippery slope. poor in the number of its words, weak in its inflections, wanting in accuracy of meaning. It features musical greats Jitsvinger, Kyle Shepard, Emile (black noise), Moenier Adamas, Shane Cooper, Blaq Pearl, the powerhouse b-boy, Bliksemstraal, and the poetic genius of Jethro Louw. Ringo Madlingozi, one of the party’s newly-elected members, raised the point that Afrikaans is “the language of the oppressor”. It may not roll off the tongue like “Afrikaans Must Fall”, but it is a carefully considered solution for a complex and highly nuanced issue. In a classic straw-man fallacy, it is usually claimed that the DA wants Afrikaans to remain the dominant medium of instruction at the university, and then we are attacked on this basis. Some of the leading figures of what would become known as the “first language movement” (1874–1890) strenuously denied the creole nature of the language. It’s therefore not surprising that socio-political history often casts Afrikaans as the language of racists, oppressors and unreconstructed nationalists. But I will not get drawn into this type of populism contest. A South African Muslim man in Cape Town, South Africa. It is critical that we guard against this, particularly given the recent tendency towards extreme populism from certain political players. The slogan was rightly an emotive, visceral response to Afrikaner ethnic, nationalist hegemony and … OK, only kidding... well, mostly kidding. The exercises in that book, also called a “koplesboek” (head lesson book), are written in “Cape Malay dialect”, the colloquial language of the time. Today six in 10 of the almost seven million Afrikaans speakers in South Africa are estimated to be black. We cannot adopt the approach that one language has to be selected at the expense of another. Offshoots of this language community self-identified as “Oorlams”. This could not be further from the truth, but it is low-hanging fruit for those who want to exploit what is known as a “wedge issue” in politics. But pioneering students like Zinhle are proof that all our languages have the potential to develop into fully-fledged academic languages. There are several good reasons why Afrikaans should remain one of two primary languages at the institution. But it also bears the imprint of a fierce tradition of anti-imperialism, anti-colonialism, of an all-embracing humanism and anti-apartheid activism. We would do well to reflect on this as we debate the use of Afrikaans as language of instruction at the University of Stellenbosch. They disseminated what was called Cape Dutch during the late 1780s and early 1800s to the northwestern Cape Colony, today’s west coast of the Northern Cape and southern Namibia. But it is hardly surprising that the DA’s position in the University of Stellenbosch language debate has been construed by our opponents – and by certain voices in the media – as an attempt to protect privilege. It’s in this spirit that the debate on the medium of instruction at universities such as Stellenbosch has to be conducted. For the Cape Muslims, a literate community, this language was the bearer of their most intimate thoughts and their religion. — This policy was deeply unpopular since Afrikaans was regarded as the language of the oppressor by the black people. Along with this diversity comes a geographic concentration of languages. This will involve hard work over a long time, but our energy will be far better spent supporting the development and use of, for example, Sesotho at the University of the Free State, Setswana at the University of the North West and isiZulu at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, than destroying Afrikaans at Stellenbosch. the Afrikaans population it was consistently received with hostility as an oppressor, and, from the time the National Party came to power in 1948, Afrikaans became the openly-favoured language. However, not everyone thought that Cape Dutch could express learning, writing or upper middle class culture. Our Constitution promotes a spirit of diversity and inclusion. Inclusion in South Africa cannot be a zero-sum gain. “Afrikaans” became their linguistic vehicle and “Afrikaners” their label. One gets the sense that, for many, this is not just about removing Afrikaans from Stellenbosch, but from wider society. Achmat Davids in his path-breaking The Afrikaans of the Cape Muslims (2011) found a similar “koplesboek” dating back to 1806. I understand very well that Afrikaans was used in the past to oppress black people. N/A, Oxfordshire, Copyright © 2010–2021, The Conversation Trust (UK) Limited. In South Africa and Namibia it’s spoken across all social indices, by the poor and the rich, by rural and urban people, by the under-educated and the educated. This way, a student in Potchefstroom would have a choice of her likely mother tongue, Setswana, and English. Angela Saini - Race, Gender and Power Should it be in Afrikaans, English, a combination, or a hybrid which will include other South African languages? I understand very well that Afrikaans was used in the past to oppress black people. Today the surviving fragments of that book reveals a history that somehow remains hidden to the vast majority of South Africans. Apart from the phonetic spelling, any contemporary Afrikaans speaker would recognise it as near-modern Afrikaans. The racial prejudice and middle class bias underlying many of their choices had far-reaching implications. We live in a plural society that brings with it incredible social complexities, but this plurality is also what makes us such a rich and diverse people. Doggedly, these early Afrikaner language nationalists and their successors modified, standardised and modernised a spoken language. Afrikaans was labelled “the language of the oppressor”. Afrikaans is a southern African language. This is what we should be embracing and encouraging, as far as it is practicable. It is currently also nearly impossible to find a journal willing to publish academic work in isiZulu, which makes her achievement all the more remarkable. We live in a global society and it is crucial that our universities become globally competent and produce graduates who are globally competitive. If increasing this diversity results in more graduates, more PhDs and more research papers, then it is surely a good thing. It is more important to side with (and protect) the Constitution than to bow to the will of those who make the most noise. Afrikaans was constructed as a “white language”, with a “white history” and “white faces”. Myles Allen, Kaya Axelsson, Sam Fankhauser & Steve Smith in conversation, Aston Talks: Assistive technologies for people with impaired mobility - online public lecture by Professor William Holderbaum, The Large Hadron Collider and the Hidden Universe, Online talk: Prof Sir Andy Haines and Prof Chris Dye in Conversation: "Building back healthier: climate change, health and the recovery from Covid-19". As to Afrikaans as the language of the oppressor, it is certainly true that Afrikaans has been forced down the throats of the majority of South Africans. We also must be careful not to speak of achieving diversity when what we really mean is grey uniformity. But perhaps we should ask ourselves what is really being debated at Stellenbosch. However, it also obscured the experiences, lives and histories of black and non-nationalist Afrikaans speakers. The GRA sought to actively demarcate “their language” to the point of diminishing and stigmatising other speakers’ claim to it. It goes as far as to say that every person has the right to be taught in the language of their choice, where reasonably practicable. The DA supports the use of both English and Afrikaans as primary and equal languages of instruction at Stellenbosch; in other words, completely dual-medium. It was when Shaka was only a young man of 19 on the verge of his evolution to a notable military leader, great Zulu king and conqueror. Afrikaans is called the language of the oppressor. Type: Chapter Pages: 45–61 Login via Institution Purchase instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access): €29.95 $34.95. — Precisely because of our plurality, our Constitution protects the languages and cultures of minorities to prevent them from simply being swept away by a wave of majoritarianism. These nationalist culture brokers suppressed oppositional and alternative thought within the Afrikaner community. “Precisely because Afrikaans is the language of the oppressor we should encourage our people to learn it, its literature and history and to watch new trends among Afrikaner writers. I was forced to study Afrikaans at school. Teacher organisations, such as the African Teachers Association of South Africa, objected to the decree. It is based on a simplified form of Dutch called Kitchen Dutch and is useful mainly for swearing and elaborate insults. Only 18% of students said they wanted classes in Afrikaans at the last count in 2016. Desmond Tutu, bishop of Lesotho and later Dean of Johannesburg, stated that Afrikaans was "the language of the oppressor". Despite the fact that English was the other official language, the business of government and Afrikaans lectures at Stellenbosch are likened to forced Afrikaans instruction in schools during Apartheid. Having nearly equal status with English, Afrikaans has the dubious honor of being a second white oppressor language. They played a major role in its establishment as the language of trade, culture and education. Add … In this case, written in Arabic script. Afrikaans is called the language of the oppressor. It was against this background that on 30 April 1976, students from the Orlando West Junior School in Soweto went on strike and boycotted classes. It was spoken by peasants, the urban proletariat whatever their ethnic background and even the middle class of civil servants, traders and teachers. 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