African writers urge for protection of languages

By Nthambeleni Gabara

Cape Town - Aspiring African writers, authors and
academics in the Western Cape have urged government to
enforce policies that will protect indigenous
languages.

They told Arts and Culture Minister Dr Pallo Jordaan
during an Imbizo held at Stellenbosch University on
Wednesday that they were concerned about the lack of
legislation regarding indigenous languages and
writings.

According to a statement released by the MEC for
Cultural Affairs and Sport in the Western Cape, Whitey
Jacobs, the writers felt African languages in South
Africa were constantly under threat because there is
no legislation that enforces their protection and
usage.

The imbizo noted that the erosion of indigenous
languages was further perpetuated by the critical
shortage of new written material in African languages
as a result of the publishing company's resistance.

Writers voiced their concern about the continued
marginalisation of IsiXhosa at public schools as well
as in Model C schools.

Current education policy stipulates that Grade 10
learners must take only two languages as subjects at
the imbizo, they writers said, adding that government
should introduce legislation that would enforce the
usage of all official languages.

"This places IsiXhosa and other indigenous languages
at a disadvantage because of the perceived inferiority
of these languages," read the statement.

The authors urged the Department of Education to
ensure learners at the foundation stage are taught in
the respective mother tongue to ensure good prospects
for the development of these marginalised languages.

Publishing companies were blamed for failing to
provide adequate support to African writers which are
resulting in the scarcity of written material of
indigenous languages.

Accessing funding and resourcing of structures was
also discussed at the imbizo, which forms part of
government's imbizo week.

Mr Jordaan said he would ask the National Arts Council
to embark on a road show in all the nine provinces to
brief organisations about the processes and procedures
for a successful application. - BuaNews

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