Freedom Front Plus
Freedom Front Plus

Important admission by Nzimande regarding Afrikaans and Nama, but do not expect too much

The FF Plus welcomes the admission by the Minister of Higher Education, Dr Blade Nzimande – albeit reluctant – that Afrikaans and Nama are indigenous languages.

This admission follows after the ANC's own legal advisor reportedly informed him that his opinion is untenable.

Controversy was sparked by the fact that the policy document for Higher Education, which came into effect in 2021, did not list Afrikaans and Nama as indigenous languages.

It was a significant amendment seeing as all consecutive policy documents dating back to 2001 listed these languages as such.

Too much should not be expected from this turnaround, though. Afrikaans has been deteriorating as a medium of instruction for higher education even while its status as indigenous language was recognised.

Since the first White Paper on Higher Education was published at the end of the nineties, the government has held the opinion that Afrikaans and English were privileged in the previous dispensation.

As an international academic language, English remains untouched, but Afrikaans must first stand back and allow other indigenous languages to catch up.

Since then, the FF Plus's view has been that Afrikaans is being disadvantaged in favour of English, while no real progress is made for other indigenous languages.

The Anglicisation of higher education in South Africa is going ahead at full steam, while lip service is periodically paid to multilingualism.

The central dilemma is that there is a great demand for higher education in Afrikaans, while mother-tongue speakers of other indigenous languages prefer English.

But Afrikaans is expected to wait for all the other languages, for which there is basically no demand on the higher-education level, to catch up.

Recognising Afrikaans as an indigenous language again one year on is symbolically significant, but will not save the language. The only solution is for Afrikaans speakers to fill the gaps for Afrikaans Higher Education, which do indeed exist.

Ultimately, Afrikaans is not in the hands of the ANC, but in the hands of Afrikaans speakers themselves.



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