SABC News - Apathy towards African language discourages writers:Sunday 24 November 2013

Apathy towards African language discourages writers

Sunday 24 November 2013 12:48

Lucas Mothibedi

Pappie Mashike says families are more interested in their children speaking English rather than speaking their own languages.

Pappie Mashike says families are more interested in their children speaking English rather than speaking their own languages. (SABC)

Renowned African writers say they have ceased writing as a result of lack of interest by society in indigenous languages. Speaking at Sol Plaatjie Literary Festival in Mahikeng, North West, one of the authors Pappie Mashike, a lecture at the North West University, says society has no interest in the use of African Languages. He says this does not only endanger the languages but African heritage and culture.


The matter has become a concern as many believe little is done by government to help preserve African languages. Mashike says African Literature is receiving less prominence in tertiary institutions and other segments of society.

“Families are more interested in their children speaking English rather than speaking their own languages. They are  discouraging them (from) speaking our African languages and by so doing we are also discouraging them from reading anything written in our own languages.”

Teachers say their area of concern is that, the current Setswana books are not written by Setswana speaking authors. They say this makes their job difficult as, at times, they are forced to explain concepts and terms they themselves do not understand.

One teacher says, “Majority of people living in our province are Setswana speaking people. So, if we can get more writers and  translators of Setswana so that our learners who are young should know their language properly.”

North West Provincial Language Committee Deputy Chairperson Nombulelo  Sonaki says they are aware of the problems faced by teachers and other affected stakeholders. She says they will now use renowned writers to restore pride in using the African Languages, in hope to preserve what seem to be becoming extinct indigenous languages.

Sadtu in the North West has since called for the Department of Education to come on board and help preserve the African languages

“We have already started  using the old writers who  were not encouraged before, who felt that there's is no life in writing. We are using them in our workshops to empower the young people in our society.”

Meanwhile Sadtu in the North West has since called for the Department of Education to come on board and help preserve the African languages.

Language Committee in the province has committed itself to work hand in glove with affected stakeholders to find means of preserving African language.

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