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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Language, heritage, development and identity in South Africa
Author:Callinicos, LuliISNI
Periodical:African Research and Documentation
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:cultural heritage
indigenous languages
Abstract:The simultaneous neglect and manipulation of the mother tongue under colonial and apartheid regimes raises the challenge in a democratic South Africa of restoring the indigenous languages and linking them to cultural, intellectual and economic development. Despite South Africa's eleven official languages, the struggle for prioritising the mother tongue continues. While national education policy aims to encourage the use of the mother tongue as a preferred teaching medium, English is seen by many parents as a global language and a passport to success which they do not want their children denied. Given South Africa's painful past, it is not surprising that tension surrounds key elements of heritage and identity. The general feeling is that the soul, culture and languages of the formerly oppressed majority need to be affirmed for reconciliation to succeed. In this context of diversity and power and the contestation of heritage, publishers can play a crucial role in helping to develop the new, democratic South Africa, by contributing towards making the intangible more tangible, by engaging with individual and community memory, in concert with traditional, indigenous heritage. Inexpensive story books in all languages for the young should be easily accessible, to enourage the culture of reading and being read to. Attractive school textbooks in all subjects need to be available in all schools in the languages of their province. In tertiary education, scholars should be expressing their knowledge in indigenous languages. The author is chairperson of the National Heritage Council of South Africa and the paper is based on a talk given at the British Library in October 2005. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]