NATIONAL NEWS - President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for the land in South African to be returned to the indigenous people as part of the restoration of their heritage and identity, because by being stripped of their land by colonisers, they were stripped of their identity.
“Land must be returned. Our people were stripped of our land,” said Ramaphosa.
The president announced that all the 23,000 public schools in the country would be offering African languages by the end of next year and sign language would in future be declared as the 12th official language.
“Our parliament has also been asked to elevate sign language to the status of an official language,” he said.
Addressing the Heritage Day celebrations at Mxolisi Jacobs Stadium in Upington in Northern Cape yesterday, Ramaphosa said: “Every single language spoken in this country has equal value and equal worth.
“Under colonialism and apartheid, African languages were degraded and denigrated, and the languages of the Khoi and San people were marginalised.
“This was part of a deliberate attempt to alienate our communities from their history, culture and traditions.
“Government is doing everything to promote and preserve all our languages, but most especially the languages of the people of the Northern Cape that are dying out such as N|uu, Nama, !Xun and Khwe.
To loud applause, Ramaphosa said the Khoi and San languages were the oldest languages spoken in the world.
He said because of this it was government’s national collective and national duty to preserve them.
The Nama language was being taught at Northern Cape primary schools for the first time and it would also be taught at the University of Northern Cape.
Ramaphosa said his government was working with institutions of higher learning to develop lexicography and terminology development units, and offer bursary schemes to students wanting to major in African languages.
“We are going to move step by step going forward.
“We are going to help to spread the N|uu language in the Northern Cape.
“We are going to make sure that all African languages are taught at all our schools so that our children are able to go to school to learn in their home languages,” Ramaphosa said.
He said there was no language in the country that was superior to another, nor a language that belonged in the past.
“We are now on the move to protect our languages and extend the use of our languages,” he said.
The president earlier opened the Sandile Present Community Library, where he was impressed by children who read books in their indigenous Xu and Nama languages.
The session, which was meant to encourage reading in an indigenous language, was led by Katrina Esau, a recipient of the 2014 National Order of the Baobab in Silver for her work in heritage preservation. She taught the endangered N|uu language to the people of the Rosedale community using a local school near her house.
The Northern Cape has 226 libraries and the Sandile library is the biggest in the province.
Ramaphosa announced that the government’s indigenous language publishing programme was going to up its game.
Government would also support national literacy events, book fairs and book festivals, and the annual Writers Festival hosted at Sol Plaatje University, he said.
“Soon we will be reading more novels and textbooks in the indigenous languages of the Northern Cape.
“We will be seeing TV shows and listening to radio dramas in Nama, in Xu and in many other such languages,” he said.
Ramaphosa challenged Northern Cape artists to produce more music in local languages to emulate world-renowned Xitsonga singer Sho Madjozi and King Monada.