SABC News - Former judge challenges non-Africans to learn African languages :Saturday 6 February 2016

Former judge challenges non-Africans to learn African languages

Saturday 6 February 2016 19:22

Lukhanyo Calata

Former Constitutional Court Judge Albie Sachs says there is a need for every white person in this country to be taught African languages.

Former Constitutional Court Judge Albie Sachs says there is a need for every white person in this country to be taught African languages.(SABC)

Former Constitutional Court Judge Albie Sachs has challenged white and non-African communities in South Africa to learn to speak African languages.  

The challenge came after former president FW de Klerk called on South Africans to re-ignite the spirit of reconciliation and nation building which swept across the country in 1994.    

"Let us revive the spirit and intent of 1994. Let us work together to make the vision in our constitution of human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms a tangible reality for all South Africans," said FW de Klerk earlier this month.

However, Justice Albie Sachs says it is up to white and other non-African communities learning at least one indigenous language.
"I think there is a crying need, a crying need for every white person in this country to be taught African languages. I say this because it is one of my weaknesses. It is a source of real shame," says Sachs.

This notion is supported by the Institute of Justice and Reconciliation as well as University of Cape Town's language and cultural expert Dr Tessa Dowling.

"Learning another language gives you an insight into culture, it gives you respect, shows respect and just takes you on a journey to meeting the other person halfway. African language speakers have had to learn English and Afrikaans we do need to meet them halfway."

Ordinary South Africans agree that it is a gesture that could accelerate nation building and reconciliation efforts among the different
races.

“I believe language is the most powerful tool that you can use to bring people together."  

The issue of language is a thorny one with different groups calling for recognition of various languages.

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