Constitutional Hill

Oh Shucks, there’s a Zulu in my curriculum

The University of KwaZulu-Natal has announced that it will make isiZulu language classes compulsory for all first-year students from next year. This modest step, aimed at promoting multilingualism in South Africa, has been sharply criticised. Some have compared it to the introduction of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in schools in 1976 (a move that that led to the Soweto uprising) while others have argued that the move is unconstitutional. It is nothing of the sort.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal introduced the compulsory isiZulu classes to promote “nation-building” and to bring “diverse languages together”. isiZulu is among the most widely spoken official languages in South Africa and is the mother tongue for about 23% of the population.

Section 6 of the Constitution recognizes 11 official languages in South Africa and requires that “all official languages must enjoy parity of esteem and must be treated equitably”. (The late Kader Asmal was particularly proud of the inclusion of the phrase “parity of esteem” in section 6 as he borrowed this phrase from the Irish Constitution.)

This does not mean that the Constitution requires all languages to be treated in exactly the same manner in South Africa. It only requires that languages must be treated fairly, depending on how widespread the usage of a particular language is in a province and taking into account other considerations of practicality and expense. Just like Afrikaans could be treated less favourably in Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal than in the Western Cape, so isiXhosa could be treated less favourably in Mpumalanga and Free State than in the Eastern Cape.

Despite these constitutional provisions, we all know that in South Africa  – for many elites, at least – English is more equal than other official languages. English is also the only language in which many white South Africans are conversant. Because English is a language spoken by the leaders of economically and military dominant nations like the United States, monolingual English speakers who have never travelled to South America, parts of Europe (like Spain) or China could go through life laboring under the bizarre misconception that all clever and educated people speak English.

Despite the fact that section 6 of the Constitution recognizes the “historically diminished use and status of the indigenous languages” (other than Afrikaans) due to the effects of colonialism and apartheid, and requires the state to “take practical and positive measures to elevate the status and advance the use of these languages”, little has actually been done by the South African state to promote multilingualism in society.

I think it a brilliant idea for a University to require all first year students to study the dominant neglected indigenous language of the region in which the university is situated (in other words, not Afrikaans or English, the two languages officially promoted and advanced during apartheid and the two languages still most economically dominant in South Africa). It is a pity that all other South African Universities won’t follow suit and that, say, the University of Cape Town is not going to require all first year students to study isiXhosa.

By officially requiring first year students to study a neglected indigenous language, a University would signal its willingness to engage in a practical manner with the cultural diversity of its surroundings. The move would help to promote an awareness of multilingualism among those South Africans who go through life only speaking English. It would also promote understanding and respect for diverse cultures, because language and culture is so closely connected.

Of course, there is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits a University from requiring students to take a specific course. Just as a University can force all students to take a course in English, in Media Studies or in Mathematics, so it can force all students to take a course in isiZulu. Students who do not like taking that compulsory course can always choose to study at another University.

For obvious reasons of fairness, I would not support a move by a University to force students to take one of the languages unfairly advantaged by apartheid (in other words, Afrikaans and English), but even if a University did require study of such a language, this would not be unconstitutional. It would just be politically untenable and unfair.

The move by the University of KwaZulu-Natal is not that different from the decision by the University of the Free State that all first year students be required to pass a course that engages critically with both local and global issues. The Free State course – another brilliant idea that is sadly not being followed by other Universities – is aimed at promoting diversity literacy among students and to promote social cohesion amongst students. Students who wish not to take such a course can, of course, choose to register, say, at Walter Sisulu University where taking such a course is not required.

Of course, the situation is slightly different when a University does not only require all students to take a particular language course, but when it decides to make a particular language (not widely spoken by potential students) the medium of instruction. If the University of KwaZulu-Natal required half of all lectures to be taught in isiZulu, interesting legal and moral questions would arise. Such a move would exclude most white students from attending the University and could arguably be seen as unfairly discriminating against those excluded students on the basis of race.

The issue would be complicated by the fact that isiZulu is a language diminished by apartheid and by the fact that white people are generally still reaping the benefits of apartheid, making it more difficult for white people to convince a court that an exclusionary policy unfairly discriminated against them. I am therefore in two minds about whether the compulsory use of isiZulu as a language of instruction at the University of KwaZulu-Natal would be found to be unconstitutional or not. (It would probably be academically unwise, because it would preclude many good students from attending that University.)

The situation is more problematic at an institution like Stellenbosch, where an insistence on the exclusive use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in certain classes would unfairly discriminate against many black South Africans. As Afrikaans was given preferential treatment by the apartheid state and as many black South Africans are not conversant in it, the exclusive use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction would unfairly rob many black South Africans of the opportunity to be taught at one of South Africa’s primary higher education institutions (subsidized by taxpayers money).

That is why the move by the University of Stellenboch away from the exclusive use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction is not only fair but probably also constitutionally required. The move is also good for the University, as it would allow the University to draw from a wider pool of excellent students (including excellent black students), thus increasing the quality of students attending that institution.

Be that as it may, I am surprised that all South African Universities are not promoting previously diminished indigenous languages through their various admissions policies. Why not award extra admissions points to all University applicants who can speak a diminished indigenous language like isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga and isiNdebele as part of the affirmative action admissions policy of a University?

If Universities were to signal to potential students that they would gain easier access to that University if they spoke languages other than Afrikaans and English, many parents would insist that the school their children attend offer a wider range of indigenous South African languages and many pupils will then take such languages. This would promote wider multilingualism (and with it, social cohesion) in society – especially amongst the educated elite.

It seems to me that many of us who grew up white in apartheid South Africa, were deprived of an important tool for navigating our world when we were taught only in Afrikaans and English. We are lesser human beings for being unable to speak other indigenous South African languages or for being able to speak it only very badly. The move by the University of KwaZulu-Natal would ensure that the same damage is not inflicted on a new generation of white students.

  • http://www.ozoneblue.co.za/ Ozoneblue

    “Such a move would exclude most white students from attending the University and could arguably be seen as unfairly discriminating against those excluded students on the basis of race.”

    Nonsense.

    You can learn a new language but you cannot change the color of your skin.

    That is what people like you seem entirely incapable or unwilling to understand. So even when I raise my 11 year old to be a patriotic South African, to embrace African culture and to think of himself as an African the racism perpetuated by [racial] demographic and “identity politics” makes it impossible for him to do this.

  • Deloris Dolittle

    Just a correction Pierre, I am almost certain that the majority of white in SA speaks Afrikaans and not English. Apart from this I agree with you. While this move bythe university will not be like by many, I feel it is high time that non african people learn at learst one african language. It will help with nation building and increased tolarence.

  • Boertjie

    Regardless of diversity/nation building/tolerance/politics/laws/whatever, I would love to learn an African language simply for practical reasons.

    And might I add that, should I master an African language, I would listen WAAY more than speak.

  • Mna-nje

    Ozoneblue, u r either not fully understanding the writer’s arguement in that paragraph, or it is me who is not fully understanding u.
    To me it seems u believe the writer to mean that whites r unfairly discriminated against by UKZN’s move.
    But I believe he supports the move, but just stating that had they taken it a step further and insisted that (all) lectures be conducted in isiZulu, then it could be viewed as discriminative, not only to whites but to all other non-Zulu speakers.
    This therefore means that the writer agrees that everyone is capable of learning isiZulu, but not everyone is at a point of being able to learn in isiZulu (yet).

  • HiStan

    It strikes me as self-defeating. A year’s course in a language as complex as isiZulu is nearly pointless – especially when it’s being taught to 17-18 yo students most of whom have probably lost whatever ability to learn a new language that they might once have had. Non-isiZulu students will do the course, striving for the bare minimum pass mark, and then promptly forget what they’ve learned. It adds the cost of a course with no academic advantage to a already large bill, it gives an unfair advantage to isiZulu speaking people and puts a large academic burden on other students, and it will do nothing to attract excellent students to the university. This is the sort of tampering with education that should be tried in primary school where the stakes for learners aren’t so high and the ability to new learn languages is higher. I myself did BSc (Hons) at Natal U at a time when we were required to learn French or German to scientific reading level; I passed the German course, but I still couldn’t read any real German research.

  • Pierre De Vos

    Mna-nje, I could not have expressed it any better.

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ HiStan

    “A year’s course in a language as complex as isiZulu is nearly pointless”

    With respect, this is a destructive and unhelpful comment. You miss the fact that the point of the compulsory Zulu course (under the wise leadership of the VC Makgoba), is not so much pragmatic, as it is symbolic.

    (Also, I do not want to hear anyone raise juvenile questions as to whether Pierre has elected to channel his enthusiasm for linguistic symbolism into himself learning an indigenous language. That would be, again, beside the point.)

    Thanks.

  • http://www.ozoneblue.co.za/ Ozoneblue

    @Mna-nje
    May 18, 2013 at 10:51 am

    “But I believe he supports the move, but just stating that had they taken it a step further and insisted that (all) lectures be conducted in isiZulu, then it could be viewed as discriminative, not only to whites but to all other non-Zulu speakers.
    This therefore means that the writer agrees that everyone is capable of learning isiZulu, but not everyone is at a point of being able to learn in isiZulu (yet).”

    Well then it is those whites’ own problem and not “racial discrimination” – the terminology is simply wrong. If whites have not at this point in our history thought it necessarily to learn isiZulu since it is spoken by 11 million people – or 23% of our population or at least some other black African language the “discrimination” against them is not because of some physical attribute of their biological make-up like the colour of their skin that they have no control over but because they have neglected their own patriotic duties. And the overwhelming majority of text books and academic literature are ALL written in English, so that it is absolutely nonsense to claim that because the lecture is in Zulu they cannot “learn”. From personal experience it is native Zulu speakers who are more at disadvantage I would say, not the other way around.

  • http://www.ozoneblue.co.za/ Ozoneblue

    The linguist facts of South Africa. (thanks to the wiki)

    Zulu 11,587,374 22.7%
    Xhosa 8,154,258 16.0%
    Afrikaans 6,855,082 13.5%
    English 4,892,623 9.6%
    Northern Sotho 4,618,576 9.1%

    and so on…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_South_Africa

  • HiStan

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder: I agree with you completely. It is symbolic. But should a university indulge in *expensive* symbolic gestures at this time in S Africa’s history? Should universities be allowed to use taxpayers’ money and student fees to make such futile gestures? Does that not amount to a lesser, but still wasteful, abuse of taxpayer/student time and money?

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ HiStan

    “Should universities be allowed to use taxpayers’ money and student fees to make such futile gestures”

    With respect, the fact that a gesture is symbolic does not make it futile. Our black people CRAVE the symbolic affirmation they receive when a WHITISH type takes the trouble to learn their tongues!

    Thanks.

  • http://www.ozoneblue.co.za/ Ozoneblue

    HiStan
    May 18, 2013 at 13:32 pm

    Sorry HStan.

    What is “futile” about nation-building and constructing an inclusive national identity? I always though that was the one crucial strategy in reconstructing South Africa.

  • Stan du Plessis

    There are many special interests in a democracy and language is one of them. When you cut through all the embellishment the UKZN is promoting a special interest. Newton thought it would be good if all Cambridge students took compulsory courses in mathematics. I am an economist and think it would be good for a participatory democracy if all students too Economics. Pierre de Vos might be pleased by a compulsory module in Public Law. But in a liberal democracy we should be a little less confident about promoting our particular interest with the public purse as the UKZN is doing here. If UKZN was a private university, the the argument that students could vote with their feet would be more compelling. As things stand, UKZN has to serve all potential students and that requirement should make academics more cautious about coercing students to follow curricula which are demonstrably irrelevant to their specific programmes. It is appropriate for a faculty of engineering to require mathematics, but no a course in Christian doctrine, even though most South Africans are at least nominally Christian.

    UKZN could have offered an accessible isiZulu course and then used all the arguments we’ve heard this week to persuade students to take the course. That is the appropriate way to use resources in a publicly funded university, it is also how we teach students to behave in a democracy, and if the case is indeed compelling you can expect students to sign up.

  • malcolm

    Lifted from UKZNOnline (page info: modified 25 June 2010) a bit out of date but interesting for it’s demographics.

    Enrolments in the three and four-year undergraduate degrees at UKZN had increased by 47 percent over the last four years with 5 386 students registered in 2007 rising to 7 922 in 2010. Demographically, there has been a decline in the number of Indian and White students who have been admitted to study at UKZN and an increase among the in-take of African students. On average over the 2007 to 2010 period the in-take of new students at UKZN constitutes 55 percent Africans, 32 percent Indians and 9 percent whites. Fifty eight percent of the student population is female with 45 percent stating that isiZulu is their home language and a similar percentage indicating that English is their home language.

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ PdV

    I say it is manifestly absurd to expect UCT law academics to learn isiXhosa so that they can teach at least some courses in an indigenous language!

  • HiStan

    OzoneBlue: “What is “futile” about nation-building and constructing an inclusive national identity?”

    “Nation building” isn’t futile gestures. It’s jobs, homes, clrean water and good sanitation, cheap food, affordable healthcare, a just legal system and the many other benefits of a growing economy.

    My guess is that the isiZulu thing will cost about R8-10m (there are 5 campuses) to set up and about R3-5m (both minimum figures) per year to maintain. And all it’ll do is drive a wedge between the Zulus and the rest of the student community. The common language of all S Africans, indeed of almost all Africans, is English. It’ll stay that way, no matter how many retrograde steps individual organizations take. To promote a common national identity, we need to look to the future, not spend scarce resources on trying to prop up the past. Forcing people to take an elementary course in a local language isn’t the way to go.

    I think we’re all agreed that the introduction of such courses is going to rouse some resentment from non-Zulus. That resentment is bound to show – especially from people who are forced to attend UKZN instead of Wits or UCT for – say – financial reasons. I can’t believe that “…black people CRAVE the symbolic affirmation they receive when a WHITISH type takes the trouble to learn their tongues!” if they know that the speaker resents doing so. If I were a black person, I would find that statement immensely patronizing.

    My own feeling is that the introduction of this course will simply mean a lot of resentment, an increase in students from KZN joining Unisa, 5-6 years of wasted money and resentment before the whole sordid experiment is abandoned.

  • http://www.ozoneblue.co.za/ Ozoneblue

    HiStan
    May 18, 2013 at 17:32 pm

    I’m sorry HiStan, so for you progress means we all have to embrace English and reject our African heritage in order to “move into the future”.

    Sorry boet, I fundamentally disagree.

    “It’s jobs, homes, clrean water and good sanitation, cheap food, affordable healthcare, a just legal system and the many other benefits of a growing economy. ”

    Yes. Once all of us understand each other a bit better and we respect each other as human beings and as fellow South Africans that will be much easier to achieve.

  • Maggs Naidu – Poor people should have joined the struggle! (maggsnaidu@hotmail.com)

    HiStan
    May 18, 2013 at 17:32 pm

    HiStan

    “Nation building”

    Is that like macro-level UBUNTU?

  • Brett Nortje – 19 years of ANC rule! Is South Africa FUBAR?

    Pierrot was going to explain why forcing students to learn Zulu at Dr Cde Blade’s pet University run by his good friend Dr Cde Run Out Of Wits was somehow different from forcing Afrikaans as a medium of instruction down black kids’ throats but somehow he got sidetracked.

    While not wanting to appear tjajerag:

    “Then the new fad became the “Language of Learning and Teaching” without understanding the enormous complexity of “languages in transition” (where the formal language of education differs markedly from the spoken language in urban areas). There was also no recognition of the fact that the vocabulary to teach maths and science in various indigenous languages still needs to be developed. The result has been a further deterioration in learning outcomes, particularly for the poorest learners taught in their “mother tongue” which often differs profoundly from the dialect spoken in the community. These learners were even more disadvantaged when the switch to English came in Grade 4.”

    As you can see I have found the polemic about the bekgeveg between SADTU and my pitbull’s namesake over The NEEDU report highly entertaining.

    I particularly enjoy the wriggling of the progressives who stuffed up education in state schools as the truth graualy comes out about about Bantu Education and its destruction during the 90s to be replaced by er…..Um???

    SFA?

    Can’t wait for Pierre’s next jaunt in the country….

  • Brett Nortje – 19 years of ANC rule! Is South Africa FUBAR?

    P.s. Did I mention that my butcher’s knowledge of Zulu probably saved his life?

    A couple of Zulu-speaking customers came into Frank’s butchery and he overheard them discussing their purchases. One guy was going to buy the contents of the till. One guy was going to talk business with his blockman come brother-in-law and one guy was going to put his gun against Frank’s head and buy whatever he damn well liked.

  • http://www.ozoneblue.co.za/ Ozoneblue

    Brett Nortje – 19 years of ANC rule! Is South Africa FUBAR?
    May 18, 2013 at 22:19 pm

    “Pierrot was going to explain why forcing students to learn Zulu at Dr Cde Blade’s pet University run by his good friend Dr Cde Run Out Of Wits was somehow different from forcing Afrikaans as a medium of instruction down black kids’ throats but somehow he got sidetracked.”

    That is because as he tried to explained in his fuzzy PM way that the language of instruction does not become Zulu, as is the case of Afrikaans as a medium.

    i do not comprehend how anybody can have a problem with that.

  • http://www.ozoneblue.co.za/ Ozoneblue

    In fact I learned more Northern Sotho decades ago under my Apartheid education than my kids are expected to learn any African language in the “new” South Africa.

    Another monumental FAIL from our ANC government.

  • Brett Nortje – 19 years of ANC rule! Is South Africa FUBAR?

    But the principle remains that you try to force your eiegoed down other people’s throats. Using public power for arbitrary reasons.

  • Maggs Naidu – Eish! (maggsnaidu@hotmail.com)

    Oh Shucks! Watchmen on the Wall Exclusive Interview with the Chief Justice

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xawsUyQkzg0

  • kelltrill

    Hi Pierre

    Thank you for the detailed and well thought out article, as per usual.
    These are genuine questions. I would appreciate your feedback on my comments:

    Although I agree that this will promote nation building, my concern is that fewer white students will now attend the university, just as fewer black students attended Stellenbosch when the primary language of instruction was Afrikaans.
    Also, I’m concerned that a compulsory course on a diminished indigenous language has come before a compulsory English course. An English course would assist all students practically post-university. So many graduates struggle with English it’s surprising they’re employable. Focusing on a symbolic language rather than a practical one may serve to isolate South Africa further as a global player and make BEE compliancy more difficult for many companies. Or is this thinking misguided?

    Perhaps rather making a single semester professional communications course in English compulsory, like what’s been done for Bcom degrees at Rhodes, as well as this isiZulu course, would be more realistic.

  • guest

    http://www.timeslive.co.za/

    “POLL  TOTAL VOTES 2425
    Should UKZN students be forced to study isiZulu?

    24.82%
    Yebo

    75.18%
    No”

    NOTHING in this world EVER works when forcefully imposed – against human spirit’s freedom and sacred right of choice. Even the opposite – more likely to backfire.

  • http://www.ozoneblue.co.za/ Ozoneblue

    Brett Nortje – 19 years of ANC rule! Is South Africa FUBAR?
    May 19, 2013 at 0:57 am

    “But the principle remains that you try to force your eiegoed down other people’s throats. Using public power for arbitrary reasons.”

    So let me try and understand your position on this one. Are you arguing that Stellenbosch and PUK must also drop Afrikaans in favour of English?

  • http://www.ozoneblue.co.za/ Ozoneblue

    kelltrill
    May 19, 2013 at 10:27 am

    “Although I agree that this will promote nation building, my concern is that fewer white students will now attend the university, just as fewer black students attended Stellenbosch when the primary language of instruction was Afrikaans.”

    Well then that is matter of choice then. You can easily learn a language, millions of people all over the planet learn new languages almost daily as we speak. Or are you saying our average university students are to DOF to lean isiZulu? I would then argue that they do not belong there in the first place.

  • Dumisani Mkhize

    @HiStan

    I agree with you in toto.

    I teach IsiZulu to a group of White and African-American University students who take the course because they want to able to have a meaningful conversation with other Zulu speakers. While they put a lot of effort to achieve this objective, one semester is just not enough. If this is not sufficient for students with an interest in learning the language, imagine what this means for those who only take it to fulfill a curriculum requirement.

    I wish somebody would listen to you HiStan.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peterjohnjnb Peter

    I think this is a fabulous idea! How could people be so upset at having to learn A NEW LANGUAGE! What a privilege to be able to communicate effectively to a whole new market that you never knew you had access to before! Business sense aside, it’s good citizenship and a great way to bring more people together. I had “bantu” language in High School in the form of Northern Sotho….but our teachers never took it very seriously and we were taught of the “ke batla di borotho” ilk. Years later I took private Zulu lessons and it changed my life!!

  • http://www.ozoneblue.co.za/ Ozoneblue

    Dumisani Mkhize
    May 19, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Correct. Black African languages (one of the top regional ones) should be taught from grade 1 as a compulsory subject. Back in the 70s, in the Afrikaner state school I attended, learners had Northen Sotho at primary level and a choice between German and Northern Sotho at secondary school level. All learners had to know and sing the National anthem by heart.

    When I look at what is happening to me kids in a black dominated model-C school, with an overwhelmingly black SGB today, under a black majority government, I’m saddened by how the ANC has once again abdicated their duty to govern, FAILED in even such basics in nation building. But I’m sure there must be some White man somewhere in the machinations that they will find to blame.

  • http://www.ozoneblue.co.za/ Ozoneblue

    National identity can drive development, says Fukuyama

    “I met Fukuyama the day after his talk and asked specifically about South Africa and where he sees it going. If we’re at a kind of developmental crossroads as a country, he implies, the pointers are to Asian-style rapid development versus the kind of patrimonial, pseudo-monarchic state seen in so many African countries.

    “South Africa’s constitutional democracy is a sort of foreign body that’s sitting on top of a society that’s not modernised in other respects,” says Fukuyama. “The state that was inherited from the apartheid era was a pretty modern, well-functioning state but, of course, access to it was restricted to white people. Naturally, when it opened up, those who had been excluded wanted to control it.”

    Around Africa, he says, “the colonial state was seen as something to be captured” because it offered control of resources. “So, after independence, you get a whole lot of fighting over the state.” Patrimonialism, he says, is humanity’s default option when it comes to elite formation. Even in highly developed democratic states, a kind of political patrimonialism can take hold: “In the 1820s, Andrew Jackson was the first populist [American] president and he said: ‘I won the election so I choose who staffs the American government.’ It wasn’t just ‘I’m going to pick ministers and they’re going to set policy’, it was ‘I’m going to put my people throughout the bureaucracy, because they need jobs and they’ve been denied access to the system’.

    “It’s a perfectly natural tendency to want, in the name of political control, to distribute positions in the state as payoffs for political support. But that weakens the state because it’s not impersonal, it’s not based on merit.”

    Apart from state officials appointed on the basis of merit rather than political affiliation, countries hoping to develop also seem to need a strong sense of national identity. “In the second volume [of The Origins of Political Order], I’ve got a comparison of Kenya and Tanzania. Julius Nyerere, for all his other dumb policies, really invested in a concept of Tanzanian identity, in Swahili as a national language, and so forth, and that I think has allowed that country to avoid the kind of ethnic fighting over spoils that has wrecked Kenya.

    “In Kenya, ethnic identities override any sense of shared national community. It shows up in corruption. A lot of corrupt politicians aren’t stealing on behalf of themselves, they’re stealing to feed a clientelistic patronage machine that’s based on ethnic identity. They’re trying to feed their supporters … But that’s what happens in the absence of a sense of national identity.”

    http://mg.co.za/article/2013-05-17-00-national-identity-can-drive-development-says-fukuyama

  • Brett Nortje – 19 years of ANC rule! Is South Africa FUBAR?

    Ozoneblue says:
    May 19, 2013 at 11:08 am

    You’re certainly not trying very hard to understand my position on this one. I’m arguing that Stellenbosch and PUK are Afrikaner eiegoed, that a lot of the non-Afrikaans ‘applicants’ there are bogus, just trying to further the war of position, and they would be well served by taking Pierre’s hint and applying somewhere else.

  • khosi

    Personally, I am very disappointed at what this university has chosen to do. But I am not surprised since UKZN is run by that spineless populist called Prof. William Makgoba.

    This decision skits around the true issues that lead to the malfunction in our education system and economic life. And that is the medium of instruction. It is the medium of instruction in education and economic life that leads to people believing that, only people who speak English are intelligent.

    Instead of forcing people to learn IsiZulu, that moron posing as a Professor should have an IsiZulu project whose sole aim would be to ensure that IsiZulu is developed well enough to be acceptable as a medium of instruction for all departments.

    I do not see how teaching people how to say ‘Sawubona’, changes the steep fundamental problems that Zulu speakers face at that institution every day.

    But I must submit that I am not a Professor, so my imagination may very well be limited.

  • Lisbeth

    “According to the critical period hypothesis, there’s a certain window in which second language acquisition skills are at their peak. Researchers disagree over just how long that window is — some say that it ends by age 6 or 7, while others say that it extends all the way through puberty — but after that period is over, it becomes much harder for a person to learn a new language. It’s not impossible, but children in that critical period have an almost universal success rate at achieving near fluency and perfect accents, while adults’ results are more hit-and-miss.”

    So, by the time one starts studying a foreign language at university, it’ll be a hard slog.

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ Khosi

    “I do not see how teaching people how to say ‘Sawubona’, changes the steep fundamental problems that Zulu speakers face at that institution every day.”

    But is not just SAWUBONA the tiny fraction of whites who remain at UCT will learn. They will also learn many other handy phrases that will impress blacks that they are at least making an effort! Most of all, our blacks need to be AFFIRMED by whites!

  • guest

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder
    May 19, 2013 at 16:46 pm

    “Most of all, our blacks need to be AFFIRMED by whites!”

    Hahaha. Another excellent dry sarcastic one. Sounds so ridiculous when you put it that way. Most probably because it actually is!

    No one else and nothing else can ever liberate you, empower you or affirm you enough, or propel you towards genuine success. This is something that comes from within. For as long as you look for it elsewhere, and try to get it from someone else – you will remain enslaved, disempowered and oppressed, and no law in the world can ever legislate you out of it!

  • Anonymouse

    “It seems to me that many of us who grew up white in apartheid South Africa, were deprived of an important tool for navigating our world when we were taught only in Afrikaans and English. We are lesser human beings for being unable to speak other indigenous South African languages or for being able to speak it only very badly.”

    This is not a fair comment. I grew up in an environment where I was taught only in Afrikaans, and, … Englishe was spoken only in self defence, … but, today, without the help of the state, I can read, write and speak Zulu as if I am a 100% ‘white’ Zulu boy. And a few other ‘indigenous’ languages (besides Afrikaans that is). It is all a matter of personal choice (out of respect – which has to be earned, by the way), and not a matter of the state ‘forcing’ a certain direction (‘tuition’) onto you. … Look what happened in 1976 when the apartheid regime ‘forced’ black learners (apparently only in Soweto) to take tuition in Afrikaans! Liberation before education, they said. …. And today, most of them can speak Afrikaans only very badly.

    I don’t think compelling students to take Zulu 1 (or Zulu spes) will help any. In fact – most students (or, shall I say, most ‘white’ students) that enroll at a kwaZulu-Natal University by choice, can speak betterZulu than the lecturers would be able to do. So: What’s the point? … I wonder.

  • http://www.ozoneblue.co.za/ Ozoneblue

    It is not about “affirming” anybody. MDF – you are one racist son of a bitch.

    It is about building a common national identity based on mutual respect for each others cultures.

  • guest

    “building a common national identity based on mutual respect for each others cultures”

    This can ONLY happen when there is a genuine FREE WILL and a choice made by the majority of people with good intentions. You can encourage it, promote it, facilitate it or even reward it – but the moment you enforce it and make it compulsory – it is no longer based on free will, nor it is positive, constructive and productive. It can NEVER be achieved, engineered or legislated by FORCE or by various clever or plain dangerous social experiments.

  • http://www.ozoneblue.co.za/ Ozoneblue

    guest
    May 19, 2013 at 18:43 pm

    “This can ONLY happen when there is a genuine FREE WILL and a choice made by the majority of people with good intentions.”

    Bullshit. Then why is English or Afrikaans or any language, subjects like basic literacy and “live orientation” compulsory at schools? Because “the majority of people” chose it via “FREE WILL”?

  • guest

    @ Ozoneblue

    I was referring to the idea of nation building and cohesion. To you FREE WILL may be bullshit. To the rest of the universe it is the most fundamental principle and driving force.

    English is amongst the most spoken and popular languages in the world.

    As for a school subject called ‘LIVE orientation’ – haven’t heard of that one (yet).

  • http://www.ozoneblue.co.za/ Ozoneblue

    guest
    May 19, 2013 at 19:16 pm

    “English is amongst the most spoken and popular languages in the world.”

    But it is not the most spoken and popular language in South Africa or even Africa, by some very long shot. And we are not talking changing the entire medium of education to Zulu, we are saying one compulsory subject at one university for the first year.

    I mean – WTF?

  • guest

    Ozoneblue
    May 19, 2013 at 19:45 pm

    So how many potential future good professionals and specialists is this country prepared to lose – merely because they happened to fail isiZulu in their first year, or because they felt they don’t want it, don’t need it – or simply that they are not that good at languages? Cos we have such abundance of good professionals and specialists, don’t we?

    Ah well, we can always import some more Cubans…

  • Gwebecimele
  • Marijke du Toit

    Indigenous languages in South Africa have somewhat different histories – isiZulu is probably the least marginal of all the African languages, partly because of how it has been part of a militant ethnic project in the fairly recent past. I don’t think this past is playing a large role with regards to this decision. But it may have repercussions for how it is received.

    I am fully and actively in support of multilingual curriculum transformation in South Africa and at UKZN. What is interesting is that the project at UKZN currently is leaning towards bilingualism and not multilingualism. In the context of KZN province, this would be a disappointing choice as intercultural understanding between all South Africans would not be much encouraged in this way. Also, although this new requirement may sound impressive I believe that a bald move towards making people learn, implemented from the top, can easily backfire. In universities such as Rhodes, certain degrees – for example Journalism and Media Studies – also now require a year (note, a year) of isiXhosa as a compulsory part of the degree. But the homework and curriculum development was done before this was implemented and the decision was presented as relevant to the requirements of a particular profession. So that students can understand exactly how this will help them professionally and make them better journalists.

    And Pierre, your idea of ‘points for speaking’ an African language is interesting. But a huge problem for African languages in SA today is that mother tongue speakers are often not getting proper tuition at school, to put it mildly. So in many KZN schools, including township schools that are supposed to be mother tongue medium schools, kids are not learning how to write, spell, and express themselves in their mother tongue. In fact, a large percentage of learners who are first language speakers are taking second language isiZulu for matric.

    To my mind the real challenge is to provide mother tongue speakers with real opportunities to thrive in their first language, at university, and to transform the teaching and knowledge production process so that thinking and analysis and debate and so on also happens in isiZulu, isiXhosa and other African languages. It is very easy to make some students to a module but it may have little effect, if it is not part of a conscious drive as to why learning a language is exciting and how this is part of a larger project of community building.

    Some universities still think that African languages only become relevant as stepping stones towards academic English proficiency. If this is where we slot African languages into the Higher Education Curriculum, I think we have failed to decolonise universities as regards language. The test for UKZN is this – how to design a project that encourages monolinguals (and for example Afrikaans/English bilinguals) out of their comfort zone. Almost more important, how to design a project that convinces mother-tongue speakers of isiZulu and of other African languages of the intellectual importance of these languages, even as they excel in English.

  • Brett Nortje – 19 years of ANC rule! Is South Africa FUBAR?

    Praise the Lord for ‘progressives’ like Marijke Du Toit, who sense whites need to be ass-booted out of their comfort zone.

  • Brett Nortje – 19 years of ANC rule! Is South Africa FUBAR?

    Ozoneblue says:
    May 19, 2013 at 18:14 pm

    You’re not usually so Pollyannaish. How many times do I need to explain to you that an Africanist is a Charterist who has been caught out and where you or I would feel ashamed or feel our honour has been impugned the ersatzAfricanist feels disrespected?

    That is why Cde Blade wants to legislate uHlonipho.

    Are you honestly arguing there is no element of payback in this imposition?

    Just how much homework have you done with regard to the setting?

  • http://www.ozoneblue.co.za/ Ozoneblue

    Gwebecimele
    May 19, 2013 at 20:09 pm

    “Teach them isiZulu.”

    Oh – I see learning isiZulu is some kind of collective racial punishment.

    You think like a fukcing neanderthal, just like those racist Whites you so adore and that you hope drags our nation down to that same level.

  • Elephant in the Room

    The point everyone is missing is that Blade Nzimande belongs to the Jimmy Manyi racist side of the Zuma-ANC and his decision is seen as triumphalist, like renaming streets instead of repairing them.

    I note that Professor, the honourable, Pierre de Vos has not replied as to whether the same principles he enunicated should apply at UCT – that all students should learn the local majority language – Afrikaans. “Silence is consent”? eh Prof.

    In recent news the government of France, one of the more chauvenistic countries when it comes to defending language and culture against Les Anglais has bowed to the inevitable and stopped making lecturing in English a crime. France is far wealthier than SA and does not have our legacy challenges that need financing.

  • Brett Nortje – 19 years of ANC rule! Is South Africa FUBAR?

    Jy’s net die stereotipiese Afrikaner patriarg wat dit nie kan vat om tereggewys te word nie nou haal jy dit op Gwebecimele uit.

  • http://www.ozoneblue.co.za/ Ozoneblue

    Brett Nortje – 19 years of ANC rule! Is South Africa FUBAR?
    May 19, 2013 at 21:55 pm

    Why don’t you and gwebs just move back to Transkei and Oranje and wallow and wail in your hatred and you endless irritating self-pity.

    Because that is really where you two belong.

  • Brett Nortje – 19 years of ANC rule! Is South Africa FUBAR?

    Cde Blade has been slighted. SHort men do not appreciate being laughed at.

    Well, perhaps I should rephrase that because it seems to me someone like Min Mbalula has the knack of getting the whole room laughing with him. AFter every important Mbalula utterance the replays and imitations go on for days on Jacaranda.

    Perhaps it is just Cde Blade. And his BMW. And expensive hotels. And the fact that no-one has ever voted for the SACP. And

  • Brett Nortje – 19 years of ANC rule! Is South Africa FUBAR?

    Why don’t you kiss my ass?

  • http://www.ozoneblue.co.za/ Ozoneblue

    Marijke du Toit
    May 19, 2013 at 20:25 pm

    “I am fully and actively in support of multilingual curriculum transformation in South Africa and at UKZN. What is interesting is that the project at UKZN currently is leaning towards bilingualism and not multilingualism. In the context of KZN province, this would be a disappointing choice as intercultural understanding between all South Africans would not be much encouraged in this way.”

    Full multilingualism at every University is not practical and doesn’t speak to the needs of the cultural and linguistic needs of the various regions. I envisage bilingualism to be the only workable model, you could have Zulu at UKZN, Xhosa at NMMU, Afrikaans at UCT, Tswana at Potchefstroom, Pedi at Limpopo and English only at Tuks, Wits and UJ.

  • Maggs Naidu – Eish! (maggsnaidu@hotmail.com)

    Lisbeth
    May 19, 2013 at 15:46 pm

    Lisbeth

    “So, by the time one starts studying a foreign language at university, it’ll be a hard slog.”

    Learning a foreign language does not take much time.

    If you listened to the cabinet briefing today, it will not come as a surprise that our Ministers learned to speak gobble-de-gook + a lot of kak, very rapidly!

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    I say the fascinating debate we are having about language at UKZN gives us an opportunity again to reflect on the immortal words of Professor Makgoba, VC of that institution:

    “The white male [must] soon learns to speak, write and spell in an African language; that he, like Johnny Clegg, learns to dance and sing like Ladysmith Black Mambazo. He should learn kwaito, dance like Lebo, dress like Madiba, enjoy eating “smiley and walkies” and attend ‘“lekgotla” and socialise at our taverns. He must soon accept, value and imitate the things that matter dearly to Africans. The sooner this white male gets out of his denial mode, the sooner he will receive treatment and proper African rehabilitation. Surely, our white male group can and should do better than the baboon or the bonobo.”

    Thanks.

  • http://www.ozoneblue.co.za/ Ozoneblue

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder
    May 20, 2013 at 0:42 am

    “This would simply be against our primate heritage. When the English were dominant we were anglicised, when the Afrikaners were dominant we were Europeanised, now that Africans are dominant we must Africanise and not apologise for our Africanness.”

    “While Ubuntu will continue to influence our drive for reconciliation, let there be no doubt that sooner or later African dominance and the imitation of most that is African shall permeate all spheres of South African society”

    I think I said earlier to gwebs we cannot allow the racist scum like Makgoba and his fellow racist white baboons whom he loves to imitate (monkey sees, monkey does) to drag all of our society down to their level.

    We need to differentiate between the project of nation building and our future South Africa and the hateful rhetoric of some of the baboons who are trying to sabotage that future. So even when Eugene Terreblance types might support “freedom” their purported support for freedom should not put the rest of us of working for that very same ideal.

    WDYS?

  • Maggs Naidu – Eish! (maggsnaidu@hotmail.com)

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder
    May 20, 2013 at 0:42 am

    Hayibo Dworky,

    “The white male [must] soon learns to speak, write and spell in an African language; that he, like Johnny Clegg, learns to dance and sing like Ladysmith Black Mambazo. He should learn kwaito, dance like Lebo, dress like Madiba, enjoy eating “smiley and walkies” and attend ‘“lekgotla” and socialise at our taverns. He must soon accept, value and imitate the things that matter dearly to Africans. The sooner this white male gets out of his denial mode, the sooner he will receive treatment and proper African rehabilitation. Surely, our white male group can and should do better than the baboon or the bonobo.”

    Will all that be compulsory at UKZN soon?

    So is it also gonna be compulsory in universities in Western Cape to learn to “dance like a monkey”?

  • beetle

    I am fluent in Bonobo.
    I should go into politics.

  • Paul Kearney

    C’mon Prof, I know a good bit of brown nosing is needed in your line of work but to go all Owen Horwood on us is too much. Have you maybe heard of the concept of “academic freedom”? I guess you don’t understand what it means. But let’s put aside principal for a moment as clearly it means nothing to you.

    Look at it practically. Are you going to make a Zulu 1 for all, including those from say Somalia or N Cape that have never heard a word of Zulu and those who have Grade 12 Zulu? Will it achieve anything after even one year of Zulu in total isolation? I doubt it.

    As for all lectures in Zulu; you crazy? Technical subjects would be a useless joke.

    By the way, I speak good Zulu and did a number of Zulu 1 lectures while at UKZN studying in a technical field (by the way they were almost useless in day to day conversation). I have lectured part time at UKZN and have other involvements. Standards are plummeting (maybe it’s my input!!) but that’s an aside. In one lecture I asked if anyone wanted an explanation in Zulu; no one wanted it. Black students were in the majority in the class but Zulu speakers a minority.

    Focus should rather be on academic excellence not political posturing – ah, you too Prof.

  • Gwebecimele

    Peter Bruce

    ” I think we can already write the NDP off. It is something that, in order to stick, requires constant affirmation by the national leader and he just doesn’t, or just can’t, do it. Has he read it, I wonder? It has been shunted aside by ministers determined to pursue nuclear power despite appeals for caution in the NDP itself and, more recently, by people on the National Planning Commission who wrote it.

    More recently, the South African Communist Party and the trade-union umbrella, Cosatu, have trashed the plan. That’s mainly because Manuel ran the process that produced and they despise him. They are also not enamoured of Ramaphosa, deputy to Manuel on the commission, who was made deputy leader of the party in Mangaung.

    One has to ask why. Ramaphosa is, politically, a dead man walking. He has no clout and no political future. He cannot even stand up, it seems, and defend his own work on the NDP. Manuel is the same. He is tired and is at least getting out next year.”

  • Gwebecimele

    OB

    Just for you, I will “sentence” you to two years of Xitsonga and isiZulu lessons.

  • Maggs Naidu – Eish! (maggsnaidu@hotmail.com)

    Breaking news!

    King Goodwill Zwelithini’s “royal outfits” is now a National Key Point!

    “The royal suit is only to be worn by King Goodwill Zwelithini or by someone who has been honoured by the royal house.”

    http://dailysun.mobi/news/read/207/snoop-lion-in-trouble-with-zulu-royal-family

  • Brett Nortje – 19 years of ANC rule! Is South Africa FUBAR?

    This blog is a perfect illustration why there has been so little positive movement since 1994.

    The ‘progressives’ are a bunch of zany wankers and the reds fukk up everything they touch.

    Meanwhile:

    http://www.timeslive.co.za/local/2013/05/14/sa-population-grows-by-a-million-since-2011

    SA population grows by a million since 2011
    Sapa | 14 May, 2013 14:13

    South Africa’s population has increased by more than one million people since the 2011 census, Statistic SA said on Tuesday.
    According to its mid-year estimate, the country now had a population of 52.98 million people.
    “This is StatsSA’s most downloaded release, and is used by various government departments as a denominator upon which they base their planning. It is used by insurance companies,” statistician general Pali Lehohla said in a statement.

    According to the estimates, the HIV prevalence rate was approximately 10 percent.

    “The total number of people living with HIV is estimated at approximately 5.26m in 2013. For adults aged 15 to 49 years, an estimated 15.9% of the population is HIV positive,” Lehohla said.

    The infant mortality rate for 2013 was estimated at 41.7 per 1 000 live births. The life expectancy of South Africans had increased by almost a year from the previous reporting period to 59.6 years.

    Life expectancy at birth for 2013 was estimated at 57.7 years for males and at 61.4 years for females.

    For the period 2006 to 2011, it was estimated that about 264 449 people would migrate from the Eastern Cape. Limpopo was estimated to experience a net out-migration of 227,919 people.

    During the same period, it was estimated Gauteng would have a net inflow of 1,046,641 migrants, and the Western Cape of 307 411.

  • StevenI

    @PdV – “Why not award extra admissions points to all University applicants who can speak a diminished indigenous language like isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga and isiNdebele as part of the affirmative action admissions policy of a University?”

    I don’t believe that extra points for whiteys are required? A bit of backwashing is more in order.

    Perhaps former disadvantaged persons should have to prove non-tribalism as well :-)

  • Brett Nortje – 19 years of ANC rule! Is South Africa FUBAR?

    The zeitgeist in the ANC circa 2013 makes me want to cry like Zille:

    http://afrikaans.news24.com/Suid-Afrika/Nuus/Dogters-dagvaar-Mandela-20130520

  • Maggs Naidu – Go tell your granny! (maggsnaidu@hotmail.com)

    Brett Nortje – 19 years of ANC rule! Is South Africa FUBAR?
    May 20, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Hey Brett,

    “The zeitgeist in the ANC circa 2013 makes me want to cry like Zille:”

    I don’t understand Finnish.

    Is that another ANC matter?

    Are the GUPTAs involved?

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ Paul

    “Standards are plummeting [at UKZN”

    Prof Makgoba, despite the fierce resistance of those with BONOBO tendencies like yourself, has made giant strides in TRANSFORMING it into a African university, in the tradition of the great libraries in Alexandra and Timbuktu. It is typical of those steeped in the archaic traditions of Oxford etc. to describe any move away from therefrom as a decline in so-called “standards.” With respect, Paul, we no longer need your CHIMP pedagogy in this country!

    Thanks.

  • Maggs Naidu – Go tell your granny! (maggsnaidu@hotmail.com)

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder
    May 20, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Dworky,

    “Paul, we no longer need your CHIMP pedagogy in this country!”

    Does that mean that Paul has taught you-know-who to dance like a monkey?

  • Justin

    They are not “isiZulu” classes! They are Zulu classes. When writing in English it is customary to use English words!

  • Brett Nortje – The ANC are backward! Completely out of place in the 21st Century….

    Maggs, did I mention how entertained I was by the saga of the ‘esoteric enquiry’ at Wits?

    It was the first time ‘progressives’ tried to go head-to-head with the new elite over values, and the first (of thousands to follow) well-publicised furore over academic records, and it was they who were left standing saying ‘Hawu!’ at the end of it.

    It was quite an eye-opener, this peek at the moral divide. And the first intimation that the ‘progressives’ were quite out of their depth.

    And now we are reminded that revenge is a dish best served cold.

  • Brett Nortje – Help! Help! The ANC has turned my country into a Bantustan!

    Strange how we allowed ourselves to be deflected from a more important issue. We all know how De Vos battles to be objective about the Cdes in the ConCourt (except if they’re Christian. We could all see Swartbooi was setting the tone for the kleptocratic state. Yacoob couldn’t. We could!)

    Didn’t Paul Hoffman alert us to a humungous – almost unbelievable – faux pas by the ConCourt?

    Why is Pierrot silent about it?

  • http://www.ozoneblue.co.za ozoneblue

    As said earlier I think we have to divorce the obnoxious imagery of baboon Makgoba scratching his balls and that racist-communist poison dwarf pretending to be minister of education from the merit of preserving and developing our African heritage. Otherwise we allow ourserves much like the ANC attacks on “white males” to be drawn into restling with racist pigs in the mud.

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ OZ

    “drawn into restling with racist pigs in the mud.”

    You mean “resting”, surely.

    Thanks.

  • http://www.ozoneblue.co.za ozoneblue

    O fok.. Oxford says: wrestling.

    I stand corrected mfd.

  • Mike

    @Pdv – The mistake in your reasoning is in the first line and that is Zulu is not the most widely spoken language in the country, it is afrikaans.
    Whilst the Zulus represent the biggest population group the langauge is mostly confined to KZN with a fair representation in Gauteng.
    My experience of having lived in Kzn for 45 years is that here in Gauteng the majority of blacks simply refuse to converse with you in Zulu.
    When one considers the 400 changes to street names in Durban the issue of Zulu being compulsary at University takes on a different tone and that is the complete eradication of other cultures in that province.

  • Joy

    Wow…Wow. I know for a fact that most non-zulu speaking students struggle to get jobs, especially in a province like KZN. Especially in social science studies or those that deal with the community. One should look at this oppurtunity as enhancing one’s competitive edge for the job market. Instead of complaining…….I’ve never heared such an uproar against getting educated….illiteracy has never been fashionable….come on people.

    China, is looking at teaching isiZulu in its university….and many other international universities offer IsiZulu. Exchange students learn indegenous South African languages when in the country……noma ungathini kunjalo nje

  • Brett Nortje – Help! Help! The ANC has turned my country into a Bantustan!

    Exactly, Mike. The keyword here is ‘displacement’.

    Followed closely by choice (no, ‘progressives’, wrong, sit down, shut up, we’re not talking about you now! We know to you ‘choice’ means either killing the innocent unborn/same-sex partners. FFS – does everything HAVE to be about you?)

  • Lisbeth

    @Mike

    “When one considers the 400 changes to street names in Durban the issue of Zulu being compulsary at University takes on a different tone and that is the complete eradication of other cultures in that province.”

    Having stuck it out in KZN for nine years, my take on “the eradication of other cultures” is that the Zulu will have to eradicate the KZN Indians before they get rid of Indian culture.

    Now that I find myself in Xhosa country, I’ve discovered that the Zulu pleasantries I acquired in KZN don’t seem to go down too well with the Xhosa, although they understand them (I can tell by the looks on their faces). Guess I still have a lot to learn …

  • Maggs Naidu – Go tell your granny! (maggsnaidu@hotmail.com)

    Brett Nortje – Help! Help! The ANC has turned Brett into a monkey!
    May 20, 2013 at 14:13 pm

    Hey Brett,

    “(except if they’re Christian. We could all see Swartbooi was setting the tone for the kleptocratic state. Yacoob couldn’t.)”

    It comes as a surprise to learn that Yacoob is CHRISTIAN.

    I thought he was blind!

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ Lisbeth

    “Zulu pleasantries I acquired in KZN don’t seem to go down too well”

    My pleasantries (mainly respect and gratitude), seldom go down well — irrespective of language. How do you explain that?

    Thanks.

  • Maggs Naidu – Go tell your granny! (maggsnaidu@hotmail.com)

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder
    May 20, 2013 at 18:40 pm

    Dworky,

    Lisbeth pleasantries we misunderestimated!

    See for yourself.

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_ailfnEmKTWc/TJxmcHkubSI/AAAAAAAAAAc/PGEuCn5qKsg/s1600/funny-church-sign.jpg

  • Herman Lategan

    Ozoneblue, you’re such a comedian. Love it. One with dollops of irony as well. Refreshing …

  • James in Germany

    “…many of us who grew up white in apartheid South Africa, were deprived of an important tool for navigating our world when we were taught only in Afrikaans and English. We are lesser human beings for being unable to speak other indigenous South African languages.”

    Pierre, sadly this is the truth. We could all have made a better job of it if we had learned an indigenous language 20 years ago. I wish I had :-(

  • http://lasart.es/ Curt T. Obrien

    I think it a brilliant idea for a University to require all first year students to study the dominant neglected indigenous language of the region in which the university is situated (in other words, not Afrikaans or English, the two languages officially promoted and advanced during apartheid and the two languages still most economically dominant in South Africa). It is a pity that all other South African Universities won’t follow suit and that, say, the University of Cape Town is not going to require all first year students to study isiXhosa.