Since it keeps getting harder for the South Africa’s malfunctioning ANC government to blame their incompetency in uplifting all its citizens, especially those “whose land was stolen and enslaved by the apartheids regime”, they have shifted their target to the Afrikaans language. This all after 21 years in a failed effort to eradicate poverty and create an equal opportunity for all citizens.
The reason for this swing to Afrikaans can easily be found. All the settlers from Europe since the mid 1600’s, that was the time Jan van Riebeeck landed his ships in Table Bay – later being known as the Cape of Good Hope, eventually developed a new language, now known as Afrikaans, in order to overcome the language barrier between mainly Dutch, Malaysian, German, French and English speaking people in this new part of the world.
Excluding Afrikaans as official languages, where is the evidence of the rest of the rest of the eleven languages (English – now an official black language by the way it is spoken by locals, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu) in coming together to create one language spoken by all these tribes? Not one of the black tribes even tried to create a written version of their language before they came in contact with the settlers in the Cape.
The reason for this can only be found in the fact that these tribes, since they started their colonising move into Southern Africa, never got to the level of compromising and forming one nation. In fact, virtually all the tribes found in Southern Africa, excluding the Koi / San tribes, are mostly splinter groups of the Zulu tribes that moved down South from their traditional heritage homeland in Central Africa. This, maybe the reason why our honourable President thinks that Africa is the biggest continent on earth and that all the other continents, put together, wil fit into one continent the size of Africa. This may be true if he referred to the number of different languages spoken in Africa, with each tribe speaking its own language. Due to this, the ANC’s Rainbow nation has up to now, only exists as different shades of black.
Kitchen Dutch, as it was first known, was first spoken by the Malaysian slaves brought to Africa by the Dutch settlers. They even tried to start a written language using the Arabic written basis as starting point. The settlers adapted this new language, then known as Cape Dutch as new words were formed and still is formed as technology grows (ie Computor vs Rekenaar – to name one simple example) with no influence from the English language, although they share the same group of languages as Germanic language. Through this communication between slaves and settlers Afrikaans was born. Afrikaans became the home language of most settlers, excluding most of the British settlers, whether their roots were from Dutch, Belgium, France, Italian or German origin. Afrikaans roots were planted before the colonizing of the Cape by Britain, introducing English as the only official language. However, the Afrikaans language grew fast in becoming a world recognised language with its own dictionaries, vocabulary and raised to the level that it can be used in any study-field offered at university degree level. To ban the language from witch an university grew, only shows that language is not the barrier. The real barrier is the incompetence of supporters of the British colonial language to succeed in obtaining a degree worth nothing in order to enter the professional levels in the economy of South Africa. More than 50% of these supporters drop out after the first year, mainly because their own level of mastering English is far beyond the required university level. Any student who passed al his subjects in the first year and cannot carry on with second year studies because of finance, should get financial assistance, not those first year students with poor university entrance marks and those who failed to pass their year exams.
This is the reason behind the ANC government finding a new target (they cannot get away with apartheid anymore), the schools catering for Afrikaans speaking pupils. Many of these schools switched to dual medium schools (Afrikaans and English), with the promise from government that they will subsidies these schools by subsidising English-speaking teachers. A promise which never materialized. In fact, most of these schools had to appoint additional teachers, even for their Afrikaans section because of the cut in subsidies by the Education ministry.
The situation is worsening, especially under the guidance of a great Zuma supporter, Ms Angie Motshekga, who does not have a clue what primary and higher education entails.
Her answer for a higher pass rate include upgrading pupils to the next level after they failed to pass the second time the same grade. Thereby uploading the annual unemployment rate (now standing at 27%-plus) by a few percentage points.
The whole language-issue started with a struggle that started even before the ANC was formed. Here I refer to the struggle between the Afrikaans speaking inhabitants of South Africa and the British, colonizing the established Cape province and Natal. This was followed up by the Anglo Boer war, after the Republics of Transvaal and Free state also had to bow to Queen Victoria and her world wide colonizing dreams.
The Afrikaans language evolved from its humble beginnings, as it was for a period in South Africa’s history being banned from schools under British Rule, to a language with its own dictionary (in Std 3, dictionary was not even part of a kid’s vocabulary – can President Zuma spell dictionary?) to the highest of education levels at universities, competing on the same level as student from all over the world. Afrikaans was born in Africa and was never a colonial language.
Following the Groot Trek, many British settlers also emigrated north to the newly formed republics. Because they were not Afrikaans literate, they started their own schools like the Girls / Boys High Schools and colleges found all over South Africa. There were few primary schools who taught English, and they enrolled their kids in the local Afrikaans Medium Primary schools, transferring them to the English Medium High school once the passed their std 5 level.
Can any other language group, other than Afrikaans, exceed or just match this achievement?
In stead of attacking the schools who are primarily Afrikaans or dual medium who succeeded in obtaining high pass rates for Gr 12 pupils, start schools for each of the ethnic groups where they can be taught in their own language. A school where teachers can teach them, in their home tongue, the basics in reading, writing and basic education. No one of the other language can achieve this on its own.
Afrikaans showed the way to achieve world wide recognition as a language that rose to the highest of education levels through diversity and joining forces.
Comment by Pieter Coetzee – Editor: Kwêvoël