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Luister, you can keep your Oxford scholarship

By Mark John Burke

Three years ago, I sat around a dinner table as one of 10 national finalists for five very prestigious scholarships to Oxford. Across from me sat a professor who insisted: “We need to do away with Afrikaans completely. It is the language of the oppressor. We need to start with universities.” I remember all this vividly. One of the 11 judges of our highest court, Justice Edwin Cameron, was sitting next to me. Him and I, in spite of our English names, share Afrikaans as our mother tongue. We spoke English throughout the evening as a courtesy to others in attendance. We were able to. I’ve replayed the moment over in my head a million times. Should I just have kept quiet in response to the professor’s outburst? Should I have bit my tongue in order to land a lifelong achievement?

More recently, a documentary entitled Luister exposing racial abuse and discrimination in the town of Stellenbosch went viral. Professor Jonathan Jansen weighed in on the discussion: “Afrikaans students in this part of the world have not yet been confronted with their crude, unvarnished racism.” A few years ago he wrote of Afrikaans institutions of learning as dangerous, finishing his article on an ominous note describing an Afrikaans radical who tried to blow up the country’s leaders as a result of graduating from such an institution. When pressed on the subject, he could not provide an example of such an extreme act or, for that matter, any link whatsoever between first language education and extremism.

The ongoing “decolonisation” of South African universities has been largely focused on former white universities. The problem with all the vitriol surrounding the debate on higher education transformation is that most arguments, similar to Jansen’s hypotheticals, work under deeply flawed assumptions about the individuals, ideas and systems which influence the severely strained higher education space.

The first assumption is the laughably simple one that we have enough institutions of higher learning, we just need to rebalance the scales to provide access to the marginalised. This is fundamentally flawed. While three new universities are currently being developed, South Africa could quadruple its current capacity and it still would not be sufficient.

The second of these assumptions is that there is a model of successful transformation and university leaders just seem to lack the will or, worse even, the desire to implement the necessary changes. This could not be further from the truth. Whatever outcome would constitute sufficient redress and allow universal access to education is still the topic of intense debate – the University of KwaZulu-Natal is an example of the colossal failure associated with ill-conceived attempts at simply making a university more representative of the national demographic. The University of Johannesburg (formerly the Rand Afrikaans University) is still considered a work in progress and the outcome is anything but guaranteed.

On the other hand, liberal English institutions, like the University of Cape Town (UCT), have long suffered under the illusion that they were on the right track. Recent events have illustrated this not to be the case. A student movement campaigning for the removal of a statue of Cecil John Rhodes recently succeeded. This did not stop angry students who still felt marginalised from vandalising the continent’s top-rated campus. Over the same time period, white students from the same institution have been involved in a series of events that are generally considered to be racially motivated, including urinating on and beating up black individuals without provocation. I myself faced intense prejudice as one of only two Afrikaners joining the rowing team while studying at UCT.

While internal discussions at these English institutions have been ongoing, the debate on Afrikaans in higher education rages and is far too often flamed by the minister of higher education and the leader of the South African Communist Party, Bonginkosi Emmanuel “Blade” Nzimande. Nzimande, when not abroad in Western countries enjoying western luxuries, tends to make the third common assumption. This fatal assumption rests on the idea that doing away with Afrikaans in universities will automatically rid tertiary institutions of the scourge of racism, which is so heart-wrenchingly laid bare by the students who told their stories in the now viral documentary. This is of course not only an unfair and discriminatory assumption, but also a completely ungrounded one.

Apart from the fact that there is ample evidence indicating that black and white (both English and Afrikaans) race relations in South Africa are deteriorating rapidly, Afrikaans has for too long been made to carry the brunt for a number of social ills. These ills are a symptom of a larger disease of racism and bigotry not limited to the Afrikaner population. Recent events, such as the actions by white English students at UCT, indicate that white feelings of tribal exceptionality still reign supreme. This is not tied to language or cultural identity, but derives from an oppressive way of thinking supported by the practice of entrenching Eurocentric notions in almost all whites from childhood.

To be sure, English South Africans were complicit in perpetuating a system of political and economic injustice known to the world as apartheid. While white English liberals scolded the Afrikaner national government in public, they thanked God for it in private. Rhodes and Leander Starr Jameson rode out in the streets in Cape Town and were disgusted that blacks were allowed to walk on the pavement with “civilised company”. Ian Smith’s racially segregated Rhodesia waged a bush war instead of submitting to a multi-racial election. These were not Afrikaners.

Even if one could put the moral implications of scapegoating Afrikaans aside, it is so extremely unfair to ignore all the efforts at inclusivity made by leading Afrikaans universities such as Potchefstroom and Stellenbosch. These include, amongst others, scholarships, residence integration schemes and international award-winning lecture translation services put in place to open doors of opportunity to the previously disadvantaged.

Perhaps crucially though is what the current discourse and its outcome will mean for the average student, lecturer and researcher at former Afrikaans universities. I did not bite my tongue on that fateful December evening in 2012. I told the professor that I would not want to steal the joy of teaching from anyone. I told her that certain experts only know how to transfer their knowledge in the language in which they learnt it. I told her I would not want to miss out on a first-class education for the communist ideal of one abysmally sub-par standard for all. I told the table about the real struggles I had seen of friends with subject matter jargon, paging through dictionaries and supplemental guides on end to make sense of a topic that could have been so simply conveyed in their mother tongue. Eventually, exasperated by her relentless grilling, I said that I would not enrol at a university in Berlin and expect to speak Mandarin. I did not go to Oxford.

Of course the crude, unvarnished response to all this would have been to assume that she did what she did because she was a black African. That would deny all the beautiful things I see happening within the community I am living in on a daily basis (Hillbrow, if you must know). That would be to offend the people who have taken me in and who have treated me as if I was their family.

I extended the professor the courtesy of trying to understand her pain, her anger and her defensiveness. If only all those who would equate Afrikaans to racism would have the same integrity in their analysis of the things tearing our society apart.

Mark John Burke was a 2012 Mandela Rhodes Scholar and holds a master of philosophy from the University of Cambridge.

Author

  • Mandela Rhodes Scholars who feature on this page are all recipients of The Mandela Rhodes Scholarship, awarded by The Mandela Rhodes Foundation, and are members of The Mandela Rhodes Community. The Mandela Rhodes Community was started by recipients of the scholarship, and is a growing network of young African leaders in different sectors. The Mandela Rhodes Community is comprised of students and professionals from various backgrounds, fields of study and areas of interest. Their commonality is the set of guiding principles instilled through The Mandela Rhodes Scholarship program: education, leadership, reconciliation, and social entrepreneurship. All members of The Mandela Rhodes Community have displayed some form of involvement in each of these domains. The Community has the purpose of mobilising its members and partners to collaborate in establishing a growing network of engaged and active leaders through dialogue and project support [The Mandela Rhodes Scholarship is open to all African students and allows for postgraduate studies at any institution in South Africa. See The Mandela Rhodes Foundation for further details.]

46 Comments

  1. Jon Quirk Jon Quirk 2 September 2015

    South Africa needs the Afrikaner community arguably more now than ever. In fact it needs all skills badly.

    All of our institutions of learning, in fact all institutions full-stop, are battling with the conundrum of balancing the desperate need for ever higher levels of skills in a very competitive and globalised world, and the need for inclusivity.

    Inclusivity that means the erosion of standards is a path to mutual destruction; SA needs higher skilled peoples and, generalising, the Afrikaans community has worked hard, contributed much to make our country better equipped to compete in this technological age. We need them as much as they need us, and for them to remain as powerful a force for knowledge and progress, we collectively need their institutions to be strong and to retain their cultural values.

    In seeking a grey, monotone equal society we must be very careful not to destroy our very few centres of, if not excellence, at least higher standards.

  2. DavyH DavyH 2 September 2015

    English-speaking South Africans were made to feel very much second class citizens under the Nationalist government. Of course, they had most of the economic power within the middle class, but there was never anything quite as superior as a government functionary.
    Mark John Burke has a strange memory of the time.

  3. nicholas nicholas 2 September 2015

    Broadly the only part of this emotion driven ‘rant’ with which i find myself in unconditional agreement is paragraph 4. According to most reference sources we have 23 Universities in 2015. One can’t say that we had the same number in 1994 because there has been a careful marriage amongst unequal’s that has fudged what was into what is. It is possible that we had more though.

    However what is certain, is that no new ones have been created… [Sol Plaatjies’ plus minus 200 ‘learners’ excluded ] other than via smoke and mirror strategies, such as the UJ for instance, to which you refer.

    Note that ‘then’ [Pre-Liberation] there were as much as 400% less humans to attend these institutions, even were they able to do so [given the context of the times.]. Way back then [’60’s] i routinely attended economics lectures [for instance] at Wits, in lecture ‘Hall’s’ that contained three to four hundred crammed persons. [Other subject lectures were as bad.]. On a recent visit to the place, i noticed the rooms to be the same size as then. The Sixties were when the world rebelled against such crammed facilities, remember, in Paris and elsewhere.

    Since then though, our country’s population has quadrupled…. [notwithstanding that the [so-called] ‘White’ part has remained relatively unchanged: with the recent census recording average ages of 36 and 21 for Light and Dark textured humans respectively.].

    These “out with Rhodes” and “down with Stellenbosch” style campaigns are standard political misdirections; essentially distractions from the evident fact that in the same 21 year period that our new “Best Friend” China went from 0 to 100 we managed to go from 30 to 45, while the liberators paused: and feasted on the ‘People’s’ winnings … We all remember the person who famously said he didn’t join the struggle to remain poor… well plenty have done. We’ve built Stadia that stand empty while existing ones collapse with neglect and we’ve built palaces and fabulous mansions but not a single new place of higher learning.

    It is this failure to prepare our country for the 21st century that was immanent, that is the true catastrophe, which is proving to be our undoing.

    As for ‘your’ University… Well sorry for you; the part of me that has Welsh and Scots ancestry feels your pain: but frankly If [so-called] ‘White’ Afrikaner’s didn’t see this coming then …. ‘You’ were presumably no longer living in the ‘real’ new South Afrika.

  4. Rory Short Rory Short 2 September 2015

    Each language is a gem in its own right. Politically minded people try to use language as a means to their ends which are NOT necessarily in the language’s best interest. That is what has been happening at Stellenbosch it seems to me.

  5. exafrica exafrica 2 September 2015

    But then you seem to have forgotten the humiliation of the Boer War. The English have absolutely no memory of past wrongs. You will not find a museum or monument in England dedicated to English atrocities. (nor, for that matter, in the USA).

  6. exafrica exafrica 2 September 2015

    oh dear, you must be one of those monlingual imperialists lurking behind the fish and chips curtain in Cape Town, staggering in shock when anyone suggestst that English actually is the minority language in the Western Cape by a large margin.

  7. exafrica exafrica 2 September 2015

    Rant? I read a carefully reasoned setting out of valid views. But then, in my experience, the monolinguals of this country are ill equipped to accommodate anything other than their very narrow little world.

  8. Barry Saayman Barry Saayman 3 September 2015

    >>”It is time that the Afrikaner accept that he is not separate anymore……………does nothing to foster an assimilation into the general term of South African.”

    Wow! You must be a arrogant supremacist of some note to make such a derogatory remark. You want to play God over me and believe that you can determine who are South African and who not.

    Who are you to dictate to others who and what they should be or do? You are clearly extremely intolerant of diversity.

    You apparently expect others to accept Anglo cultural assimilation / appropriation because it suits you. Will you change your identity to suit me? No you will not and neither will I expect that from you or anybody else.

    Africa’s Plea

    I am not you –
    but you will not
    give me a chance
    will not let me be me

    ‘If I were you’ –
    but you know
    I am not you,
    yet you will not
    let me be me.

    You meddle, interfere
    in my affairs
    as if they were yours
    and you were me.

    You are unfair, unwise,
    foolish to think
    that I can be you,
    talk, act
    and think like you.

    God made me me.
    He made you you.
    For God’s sake
    Let me be me. – Roland Tombekai Dempster – Liberia

    If the advanced cultures of the EU do not know how to do this integration thing that you take for granted who knows?

    To conclude I suggest that you take note of Section 235 of the Constitution, 1996 and all the ethnic and other conflicts globally and read up on Raphael Lemkin (1900 – 1959).

  9. The Praetor The Praetor 3 September 2015

    I don’t see why english cannot be adopted as the South African official language, since it is neutral. In any event, the world is moving in the direction of Anglicanization, as the Global Village are ever shrinking and there is a need for a global medium of communication. Hence the blooming of english schools all across the world.
    I always thought the idea of 11 official languages are a farce, and a waste of time and money, as it is impossible to maintain officialdom in all.
    Adopting any other language, would be construed as favouring one group over the other.
    Maintaining university campuses exclusively for one language, would also be unworkable, as you would find the same situation as you now find in Stellenbosch, where there are also students who do not speak Afrikaans. It would mean that those students will have to move to other areas to study, unless more universities catering for other languages are established there. But just imagine the chaos, when people will demand an english, Xhosa…etc university.
    The prudent thing would be to change the medium of instruction to english at all institutions of learning.

  10. The Praetor The Praetor 3 September 2015

    1)Note my response to ExAfrica.

    2)I am no trying to decide on who is S-African, it is the choice of the Afrikaner to decide, whether he is or not.

    3) If you want to discuss arrogance…talk about the monumental arrogance portrayed by the Afrikaner, who mercilessly and unashamedly oppressed the people of this land, for their own benefit, Thereby turning themselves, by their own actions, into the most hated community in the land, yet now wants to claim special privileges and special recognition of ‘their’ language

  11. Eduan Naude Eduan Naude 3 September 2015

    NO It is not the prudent thing – I am Afrikaans, my children are Afrikaans – I like and love my culture and it’s people. It is ‘lekker’ to be different. We are mostly bi-lingual in any case. If the Chinese, Japanese, Russians, Swiss, French, etc. etc. can learn in their own language but ALSO communicate in English when required, then why can we not also ?????????? I do not care for a GLOBAL village. The world is still diverse and that is also ‘lekker’. Why do you not just leave us alone? Why can our offspring not also have a culture and language of it’s own?
    I once walked the streets of New York with my brothers and my father long ago. It was ‘lekker’ to be different and talk amongst each other in our own language.
    My sister now lives in England, my brother in USA. They are doing fine thank you, even though all their LEARNING was done in Afrikaans. We can adapt. Soon my one daughter will leave for New York – she will also do fine thank you. Her formal education was also done all in AFRIKAANS.
    PLEASE let us be. WE do not demand that ANYONE else use or learn in our language if they do not want to. We know we have to carry a lot of baggage from the past. But we shall survive.

    Btw just before you perhaps accuse me of being ‘racist’ let me just add – that since 1994 us white Afrikaners and the coloured people have also grown much closer together which is great. In my specific case I live in the Western Cape and a LOT of my friends are coloured. They are even more ‘lekker’ in their use of the Afrikaans language. We love conversing in it. They are also mostly bi-lingual.
    I see no reason why any of the Afrikaans speakers (white, coloured, black) have to be taught at school or University only in English. I hope that you appreciate the fact that I have replied to your post in the language of YOUR choice. Thank You.

  12. Eduan Naude Eduan Naude 3 September 2015

    Btw just before you perhaps accuse me of being ‘racist’ let me just add – that since 1994 us white Afrikaners and the coloured people have also grown much closer together which is great. In my specific case I live in the Western Cape and a LOT of my friends are coloured. They are even more ‘lekker’ in their use of the Afrikaans language. We love conversing in it. They are also mostly bi-lingual.
    I see no reason why any of the Afrikaans speakers (white, coloured, black) have to be taught at school or University only in English. I hope that you appreciate the fact that I have replied to your post in the language of YOUR choice. Thank You.

  13. The Praetor The Praetor 3 September 2015

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    However it may surprise you that my mother tongue is Afrikaans….my family and I converse solely in Afrikaans when we are together, to the amusement of my wife and children…I love Afrikaans music…De La Rey, being my favorite Karaoke song, which I sing with gusto, albeit not very good…LOL.

    On the other hand..we have to be realistic…

    If Afrikaans speakers are going to demand instruction in Afrikaans…why cant anyone else demand the same for the eleven official languages and also the unofficial ones?
    1)You know and I know that there is no way on earth that this will be possible. So why do Afrikaans have to have special privilege, while thousands of other students do not get the luxury of receiving instruction in their mother tongue

    2)The majority of students, having no other option, prefer higher education instruction in english, So once again, why do we have to maintain Afrikaans, other than as special consideration for a certain group of people?

    This is why it will be prudent.

  14. The Praetor The Praetor 3 September 2015

    Ai Elsie!
    If you have 1 child, its easier to provide the best, as opposed to having 10, as resources will have to be spread thinner.

    Do that make sense dear?

  15. Barry Saayman Barry Saayman 3 September 2015

    >>”…..into the most hated community in the land, yet now wants to claim special privileges and special recognition of
    ‘their’ language”

    Afrikaners are not the only national group that committed
    atrocities locally or globally and if you are informed you will know that.

    And we don’t want “special privileges” as you term it. South Africans agreed on the basic human rights that all should enjoy and we want nothing more. What about your language? Does it enjoy “special status”: if so why and if not, why not.

    And by the way – former President FW de Klerk apologised.
    Why don’t you identify with this apology if you are white and/or why don’t you accept this apology if you are black?

    You clearly are manufacturing consent and justification to persecute an identifiable national language group. Do you have mass extinction in mind and if not, how do you plan to kill Afrikaans without touching Afrikaans people? Would you say that your hate driven opinions are held widespread in your circles? Please tell. It is important that researchers will understand your peculiar frame of mind.

  16. Barry Saayman Barry Saayman 3 September 2015

    Jy voel niks vir jou “moeder tong” nie. Jy is korrek. Dit is skokkend.

  17. nicholas nicholas 3 September 2015

    ref: exafrica
    Trust me: it’s a rant.

    I also don’t remember suggesting there was anything wrong with the writer’s logic [“reasoned setting out… valid views”]. The better rants are often ‘reasoned’. This one isn’t a “best” rant though. It has a petulant quality to it that magnifies a presumed sense of being hard done by. A very old game of “Poor Me” is evident in the tone and register; notwithstanding your evident vested interest in his argument.

    With regard to your “monolingual” thought though: presumably your experience is thin; so i shall remind you of what C.W. De Kiewiet wrote quoting what the English Lord Selborne, [an arch monolingual if ever there was one, albeit a much “nicer” man than his predecessor, that haughty Governor, Milner], said in 1907, referring to Boers [presumably the “Hands Uppers”].

    “The white people of South Africa are committed to such a path as few nations have trod before them, and scarcely one trod with success.*

    Oom Piet:[Late] a man of my former acquaintance once told me that according to legend the Siener: Niklaas Janse van Rensburg is alleged to have roared out in response “F-k J-u”.

    In the laughter that followed there is no record of Lord Selborne’s reaction … well until now

    Here we are 108 years later, at the end of a “long trod”… and this self pitying piece of writing demonstrates, regrettably, that the ‘monolingual’ was seemingly ‘on the button’.

    Have a good day.

    *Ref CW De Kiewiet A HIstory of South Africa: Social and Economic Oxford press 1941.

  18. Gnomen Gnomen 4 September 2015

    Good try. ‘moedertaal’ and ‘des de meer’ and ‘uittroon’ are the words you were searching for.

  19. Gnomen Gnomen 4 September 2015

    The idea has some merit, but the constitution also guarantees that I can mingle with my own culture without fear and harmful action from others. I do not expect to be addressed in Afrikaans in Dodoma (is there a university in Dodoma?) or Ulundi, so why should Stellenbosch bend backwards to accomodate intransigents.

  20. Pieter Schoombee Pieter Schoombee 4 September 2015

    You are wrong. The idea of 11 official languages was not a farce. It was a confidence trick.

  21. Barry Saayman Barry Saayman 4 September 2015

    Your views are very important. I however disagree fundamentally with you. I will answer your rhetorical questions from my perspective as good as I can with a few statements and questions of my own.

    >>”If Afrikaans speakers are going to demand instruction in Afrikaans…why cant anyone else demand the same for the eleven official languages and also the unofficial ones?”

    There is no”if”.

    Firstly, mother tongue education in Afrikaans for Afrikaans
    children by Afrikaans educators in mostly Afrikaans single medium schools with English as second language is non-negotiable for those that want it. This option served Afrikaans speakers very well for many decades. By far the majority of our school leavers are able to express themselves in two beautiful languages and are adaptable.

    Secondly, nobody is standing in the way of other language
    groups to demand exactly the same treatment and especially out of home English speakers also do just that. They will not accept anything less and section 6 of the Constitution, 1996 makes ample provision for it. Why do you expect it from me to settle for Anglo cultural assimilation by stealth or otherwise if that is your choice? What gives you the right to force your, questionable in my opinion, choice down my throat?

    Article 26 (3) of the UN Universal Declaration of Human
    Rights that declares that parents “have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children” as well as sections 18, 28, 29, 30 and 31 of the Constitution, 1996 must be taken seriously including-

    “…….the state must consider all reasonable educational alternatives, including single medium institutions, taking into account-
    (a) equity; (b) practicability; and (c) the need to redress
    the results of past racially discriminatory laws and practices.”

    One wonders what role the lack of mother tongue education
    play in the alarming phenomenon that universities find that many black matriculants are functionally illiterate and innumerate. And some of these hapless learners clearly feel very unwelcome in English single medium schools staffed with white supremacist teachers intolerant of diversity. In my view something’s got to give sooner or later. The Freedom Charter states-

    “The aim of education shall be to teach the youth to
    love their people and their culture, to honour human brotherhood, liberty and peace…..” This is a sublime intention and I cannot agree more.

    >>”So why do Afrikaans have to have special privilege, while thousands of other students do not get the luxury of receiving instruction in their mother tongue…”

    So why does out of home English speakers have a special
    privilege?

    Nobody can force others to develop their languages and
    cultures if they do not want to do it. The developed world does not even think about alternatives for mother tongue education and it is only in South Africa an issue and it is only an issue for those that want to kill Afrikaans. You
    apparently are one of them.

    You and others are in my view doing your level best to
    manufacture wide consent to injure Afrikaans and Afrikaans children and in my view you should be ashamed of yourself. Do you have mass murder in mind? If not, how do you propose to kill Afrikaans without touching Afrikaans speakers?

    >>”You know and I know that there is no way on earth that this will be possible.”

    I for one do not know anything of that nature. Why is it
    “impossible” to give people what they want if they want mother tongue education for their children? Please tell.

    Two of the founding provisions of the constitution are the
    “achievement of equality” and the “advancement of human rights and freedoms”. Equality to English and Afrikaans and the freedom to be whoever one wants to be are in my opinion worthwhile and challenging pursuits.

    >>”2)The majority of students, having no other option, prefer higher education instruction in english..”

    That is correct and for that reason it can be expected from
    former Afrikaans single medium Universities to lean backwards to accommodate the wishes of those that opted for Anglo cultural assimilation/appropriation by stealth or otherwise. You are apparently one of them. I for one respect your choice and expect the same courtesy from you for the reason already mentioned.

    But this is not where the story ends. Africanisation of all
    educational institutions as predicted by Prof Malegapuru William Makgoba is the next step. Are you prepared for this? I am not. I will again reject monoculturalism and all the excuses presented to motivate this cruel idea with the contempt it deserves.

    >>”So once again, why do we have to maintain Afrikaans, other than as special consideration for a certain group of
    people?”

    You definitely don’t have to “maintain” Afrikaans on our behalf. You and your negative frame of mind will surely make a monumental mess of it. We will protect and maintain Afrikaans for ourselves because it is the natural and right thing to do in the best interest of our children. Understand?

  22. The Praetor The Praetor 4 September 2015

    You said so not me

  23. Richard Richard 4 September 2015

    What “atrocities”? The Boer War is a far more complex war than the mythological “peace-loving Transvaal” standing up to “bully” Britain who burned children’s toes in flames and fed them ground glass. The propaganda I was fed with at school in South Africa I rejected, and suggest you read the rather crudely-titled “Kruger, Kommandos and Kak”. Afrikaners I knew in the 1980s used to tell me they hated Jews because “Jews had started the Boer War” which segues nicely into the Nazi ideology favoured by the Nats in the 1930s. In other words, the Boer War became the repository of all sorts of strange things floating around in the Afrikaner consciousness of the time, and the perfect vehicle to embroider upon to build their case for winning political power. It became the myth to repudiate all other claims on South Africa, and was very successful until it was smashed by indigenous African nationalism.

  24. The Praetor The Praetor 4 September 2015

    ‘Afrikaners are not the only national group that committed
    atrocities locally or globally and if you are informed you will know that.’

    Yet undeniably Afrikaners is the most hated group in the country…
    Because others did so, does it make it acceptable?

    ‘And we don’t want “special privileges” as you term it’

    1)Yes you do, as you want to be exclusive, with exclusive institutions in an exclusive language. …right or wrong?

    Nobody else is demanding this, this why shouldn’t it be seen as looking for special privileges

    2)The constitution, was cobbled out in quite a hurry, with demands from the Afrikaner agreed to in error, to avoid a civil war.

    ‘And by the way – former President FW de Klerk apologised.’

    1)An apology does nothing for the people who were destroyed socially, economically and culturally by Afrikaner nationalism.

    2)If you apologise, you should at least feel regret for your actions, not try and perpetuate the same, otherwise its just lip-service.

  25. Voldemort Rupert Voldemort Rupert 4 September 2015

    When we fought for equality we were not asking for everyone to receive the same education that the oppressed majority were limited to. Now that same majority is leading us (and rightfully so) but that standard is all they know. I am living in a non-english area but i bought my house to be close to one of the few english-medium schools. However their standard of english is pretty much pidgeon. When I went to complain to the principal he very aggressively told me that i am too smart for his school and i should take my daughter elsewhere. This attitude condemns all the children to a poor standard of education and as they only have one childhood in which to get their education they are basically being robbed of it.

    When we fought for equality we wanted all races to get the standard of education that whites previously had. We have not come even close to achieving that.

  26. Elsie Elsie 4 September 2015

    I try to make sense, but one thing that I still do not get is: why start teaching children Mandarin and look down upon Afrikaans? Does nobody see the first colonization of South Africa happening namely the Chinese? Please remember, South Africa never was a colony, thanks to the Boere.

  27. Barry Saayman Barry Saayman 5 September 2015

    >>”You said so not me.”

    And you cannot or will not deny it that you feel nothing for
    your alleged Afrikaans mother tongue or that you consciously chose Anglo cultural assimilation and wish to force your brand of Anglo monoculturalism down my as well as Africa’s throat?

    You apparently missed it that Africa is determined to decolonise, in other words “Africanise” South African society.

    Will you accept the implications for Anglophiles like your good selves of this strategy to reassert African culture, traditions, religion and languages that was severely suppressed by the colonisation of Africa by Europhiles and if not why not?

  28. Barry Saayman Barry Saayman 5 September 2015

    >>”Here we are 108 years later, at the end of a “long trod”… and this self pitying piece of writing demonstrates, regrettably, that the ‘monolingual’ was seemingly ‘on the button’.”

    I wonder about this remark. Who are the true monolinguals among us?

    Anglo monolingualism forced on South Africa society by Anglophiles in the past, which resulted in private schools for Afrikaans children after the 2nd Freedom War (1899 – 1902) of the Boer Republics against British Imperialism, and again today is unacceptable because it is intolerant of diversity. In my opinion Anglo opposition to mother tongue education in the past and today is also irresponsible because, as I understand it, it cannot be pedagogically justified.

    My impression is that Anglo monolingualism and the Anglo cultural assimilation/appropriation project, by stealth or otherwise, apparently the voluntary choice of by far the majority of black parents, is one of the reasons why many black matriculants are today unfortunately functionally illiterate and innumerate.

    And this sick idea to transform Africa and Afrikaners to the image of Anglophiles has a long history of among others resistance by those Afrikaans speakers that value their own. The Freedom Charter, 1955 articulates this objective succinctly under the heading “The Doors of Learning and Culture Shall be Opened!”:

    “The aim of education shall be to teach the youth to love their people and their culture, to honour human brotherhood, liberty and peace;”

    It should also be noted that “Afrikaans monolingualism”, as apparently implied by your good selves (excluding Afrikaans single medium institutions, due regard for the fact that Afrikaans is not a white language) was never forced in the past or today on anybody.

    I still believe it is prudent to respect other cultures and the value of mother tongue education for all:

    “A 1968 study by Muriel Horrell of the SA Institute of Race Relations was critical of Bantu Education, especially its use of mother tonue-education, but wrote approvingly of the syllabuses. Those for primary classes were ‘educationally sound’ and an improvement on the previous syllabuses, while those for the junior and the senior certificate were the same as those used for white children. Ken Hartshorne, noted historian of education, also states that thje syllabues were ‘ver much the same as those used in white provincial schools and were an improvement on those in use previously.’…………Black education grew at an rapid rate. The number of places in schools for blacks jumped from 800 000 in 1953 to 1.8 million in 1963, and expanded even more rapidly afterwards.” Hermann Giliomee; ‘The Last Afrikaner Leaders – The most terrific clash of interests imaginable’; pp70 and 71.

    Why has the English always rejected mother tongue education for others whilst claiming the right for themselves? Can you perhaps explain this clearly paternalistic phenomenon?

    And whilst we look back on the long and winding road travelled by all in this complicated country, it also serves to acknowledge the oppressive Anglophile and Europhile frames of mind of the past as articulated by the Right Honourable 1st Viscount Lord Alfred Milner KG GCB GCMG PC (1854 – 1925):

    “One of the strongest arguments why the white man must rule is because that is the only possible means of raising the black man, not to our level of civilization – which it is doubtful whether he would ever attain – but to a much higher level than which he at present occupies.” The Milner Papers, II, p. 467 as quoted by CFJ Muller (Ed); ‘500 Jaar Suid Afrikaanse Geskeidenis’ – p.371.

    Milner and his compatriot CJ Rhodes represent in my opinion the pinnacle of British arrogance.

  29. jemevans jemevans 5 September 2015

    And what has that to do with what DavyH said?

  30. Eduan Naude Eduan Naude 6 September 2015

    1. Afrikaans speakers do NOT DEMAND instruction in Afrikaans. It has always been that way – since inception Maties, Tuks, Pukke, Shimlas and RAU were purely Afrikaans. The opposite is the truth – blacks and black student supporters like you are DEMANDING that these universities CHANGE to English. This has already been done at most of these universities – like RAU for instance which has been completely changed.
    2. I read yesterday that we have 800 000 matriculants. If 10% were Afrikaans speakers and 60% of them obtained University exemption that would be a sizeable chunk of 48000 students.
    3. It is NOT a special privilege. As Barry explained.
    4. Yes we do have to maintain Afrikaans at University level. Our forefathers saw it years ago. It has already been removed from most formal higher levels such as Government, etc. I believe the language and the culture associated to it will slowly disappear if we do not look after it. I, and many like me do not want that to happen.
    5. You seem to entirely miss the point regarding the open Stellenbosch movement and “Luister” video. It has morphed into a RACE related issue and NOT a language issue. What happened is that Maties invited and paid for many black students to come and study there. In order to cope the black students were given lectures in English, albeit by translation devices. I believe that is utterly wrong – you cannot teach by translation. In order to rectify the situation the University has now changed policy whereby the English (mainly black) students will be given full class by medium of their chosen language. They are not happy with that either and you know why? They claim it is racist. As obviously the Afrikaans classes will be made up of white students and the English classes obviously mainly Black. How do WE ( and by this exclude yourself), get everyone to be happy – nothing WE (Afrikaans people) do, seem to be good enough.
    6. I do believe that there is a concerted effort to remove Afrikaans from the face of the earth. This is called genocide. It is neither fair nor right.

  31. The Praetor The Praetor 7 September 2015

    Please dont get me wrong, I am not against Afrikaans nor do I wish it to disappear….

    My point is simply…let Xhosa be for the Xhosa’s, Zulu for Zulus Afrikaans for whoever so wishes etc. But let them nurture and develop their own languages, and let the state not favour certain languages at state institutions, and choose the most neutral option.

    I cannot fathom why certain people do not want to understand that language is a contentious issue since forever, and insisting on Afrikaans state sponsored learning institutions will go nowhere but into conflict with those opposed to it.
    I would suggest that Afrikaans people should start their own private learning institutions if they feel so strongly that they want instructions in Afrikaans, but this should be at their own expense, and not at the expense of the taxpayer

  32. The Praetor The Praetor 7 September 2015

    If you are going to make baseless suppositions about me then so be it.

    As far as I know, Africanisation of South African society has never been discussed by anyone. Unless you are referring to some vague mention of it by some little known intellectual

  33. The Praetor The Praetor 7 September 2015

    I agree with you fully..it is up to the-powers- that-be to rectify this, and up to the electorate to hold them accountable

  34. The Praetor The Praetor 7 September 2015

    South Africa was never colonised???

  35. nicholas nicholas 7 September 2015

    Ref: Barry Saaiman,

    As I said it has been a “long trod”.

    With regard to your “monolingual” obsession. I had a Chinese kid arrive in my class 4 years ago with about ten words of English and a little machine that translated everything in the text from English into Chinese. He finished the year in 3rd place and went on to become Head boy last year. In fact in any of my classes there could be as many languages spoken as there are kids in the room. Without the unifying value of English they would all be lost since the whole point of education is the development of the individual and hence the community.

    Some 35 years ago I was running the local operating division of an American multinational education business that was taken over by another bigger educational and training business. The new owners were at that time experimenting with holographic educators: and translating machines. They disinvested from RSA during the ’80’s and took on the development of technical colleges in Malaysia so we lost direct access to those developments. Nonetheless such developments continued as exemplified by my Chinese Learner.

    However no where in the argument relevant to Stellenbosch have we heard that the University has taken the step of providing instant access to such equipment to ease the issues faced by those ‘Learners’ who wish to study at the State funded university but have limited access to Afrikaans. If this is happening then it has been kept secret.

    You do refer to Private schools for Afrikaners after the Anglo boer war and frankly if that is the route necessary then perhaps since you persist with this concept of exclusivity that you should create your own private university.

    In reality this means that you are the ‘Monolingual’ in this regard and if it makes you feel any better a thousand years ago you would have needed Latin to ‘get on’ and prior to that such now equally dead languages as Aramaic… Currently it is English and our strength is that we do not look down on people who don’t use it well… And are proud that such ‘foreign’ persons as Joseph Conrad and Tom Stoppard (for instance) use the language more effectively than many native speakers… We regard it as rude to denigrate a non-Anglo’s usage. As you, for instance, have done as rebuttal of The Praetor’s position, and use of your language to defend his position, which even I as a ‘Soutie’ recognized as weak Afrikaans ‘dit is skokkend’ you say.

    Naturally with that attitude you will find yourself like the inimitable Greto Garbo who famously demanded to be left alone… And was.

  36. feanor feanor 8 September 2015

    Read a bit about the strategies of Lord Kitchener, the concentration camps used and scorched earth policies used during the Boer War.

  37. Barry Saayman Barry Saayman 8 September 2015

    >>”If you are going to make baseless suppositions about me then so be it.”

    Baseless? I don’t think so.

    >>”As far as I know, Africanisation of South African society has never been discussed by anyone. Unless you are referring to some vague mention of it by some little known intellectual.”

    You apparently believe that Prof Malegapuru William Makgoba is “some little known intellectual” and that the RMF brigade as well as the ongoing National Democratic Revolution of the SACPANC can be ignored with impunity. With respect, you are wrong. Denialism will not take South Africa forward. It will create bigger problems. We need to face reality in all its complexity.

  38. Bert Olivier Bert Olivier 9 September 2015

    I would love to engage the rather uncomprehending ‘professor’ you refer to (who argued in favour of eliminating Afrikaans because of it being the ‘language of the oppressor’) in debate on this issue. Any language is more than just the particular use to which a specific group of people may put it; consider German under the Nazis – should one have eliminated it because it was the language of the oppressor then? German is also the language of Goethe, Schiller, Kant, and many other greats. In similar vein, Afrikaans is also the language of Langenhoven, Opperman, Eugene Marais, T.T. Cloete and N.P. Van Wyk Louw (who wrote the classic ‘Lojale Verset’/’Loyal Resistance’). Any language is multivocally (un-)determined regarding its meaning at both denotative and connotative levels. Anyone who does not understand this, and is ideologically driven to argue for its destruction, simply reveals his or her ignorance of the ontological character of language. I would suggest that such people read Deleuze and Guattari’s book on Kafka and a minoritarian language. Although I am ‘originally’ Afrikaans-speaking, I also resisted writing in Afrikaans during the apartheid years (because I rejected apartheid), but since the demise of apartheid I have done so again freely in academic journals, because now it is a minority language that has a democratic vocation in a multicultural society.

  39. The Praetor The Praetor 9 September 2015

    When Malema spoke about nationalisation, certain people went hysterical as well…I havent seen any nationalisation to date

  40. Barry Saayman Barry Saayman 9 September 2015

    >>”1)An apology does nothing for the people who were destroyed socially, economically and culturally by Afrikaner
    nationalism.”

    The agreement was as follows as per the Constitution, 1993:-

    “The adoption of this Constitution lays the secure foundation for the people of South Africa to transcend the divisions and strife of the past, which generated gross violations of human rights, the transgression of humanitarian principles in violent conflicts and a legacy of
    hatred, fear, guilt and revenge.

    These can now be addressed on the basis that there is a need for understanding but not for vengeance, a need for reparation but not for retaliation, a need for ubuntu but not for victimisation.

    In order to advance such reconciliation and reconstruction,
    amnesty shall be granted in respect of acts, omissions and offences associated with political objectives and committed in the course of the conflicts of the past…………”

    Clearly nothing is “secure” with you on the vicinity.

    Only amnesty granted absolves and nothing else stands in the way of those that want to prosecute others or institute claims. The President’s Fund is supposed to make it easier for those with valid claims.

    >>”2)If you apologise, you should at least feel regret for your actions, not try and perpetuate the same, otherwise its just lip-service.”

    You motivate why you reject the apology and your rejection attests only to your destructive frame of mind.

    And by the way, section 235 of the Constitution, 1996 makes provision for self-determination, if that is what you have in mind with “perpetuate the same”.

    >>”When Malema spoke about nationalisation, certain people went hysterical as well…I havent seen any nationalisation to date…”

    It suits you to turn a blind eye and to forget about the
    nationalisation of mineral and water rights.

    If you ignore anyone in this country you do so at your own peril. I will not recommend it, especially not with regard to the SACPANC or the EFF. Moreover, those that live in denial of the ongoing National Democratic Revolution are in my opinion irresponsible. Are you one of them?

  41. The Praetor The Praetor 11 September 2015

    I have to laud your knowledge of the letter of the constitution, however there is clearly a lack of understanding of the spirit.
    The constitution was written to bring communities together, and in the long run build a united South Africa, as opposed to entrenching divisions.
    My question to you….Do you feel that communities are moving closer or apart as we find ourselves today?
    Here you have to be honest and ask yourself if the Afrikaner attitude of otherness and separation are doing them a service or disservice.
    If like me, you find the latter to be true, you can maybe see some sort of sense in my logic.

    Instead of looking for security and/or hiding behind the letter of the constitution you perhaps have to take a page from the German society of today.
    They did not look for excuses by claiming that it was their predecessors that aspired to Nazism, and that they could not be blamed for the ills of the past and everyone has to move on, like the Afrikaner today . Instead they took responsibility, and actively arranged their society to never again allow such an occurrence, by enacting laws that criminalised every aspect of Nazism. Today they are at the forefront of liberalism, and are taking in the more refugees than any other European country.
    In essence, they practise what they preach, and are not closet Nazis, who at the drop of a hat are willing to antagonise those whom they have wronged.

  42. Prince Malusi Dlamini Prince Malusi Dlamini 12 September 2015

    I understand the context within which you felt it important to write this article not only to make clear that fact that Afrikaans is being treated unfairly in the assumption that its use a medium of instruction translates into people assuming such institutions (that use Afrikaans) are racist and haven’t transformed. But I see that to be a 1 dimensional analysis that fails to.take into consideration South African history. U need 2 understand that for many people Afrikaans is seen aw the language of the Oppressor and was used as an extension of oppression. Thus a view of the use of Afrikaans as a tool to stale transformation might not be an Academically sound assessment but it does show show that people have residual and unaddressed feelings about the language …and are feelings aren’t restricted to academic accuracy.

  43. exafrica exafrica 26 September 2015

    English is neutral? Goeiste!

  44. exafrica exafrica 26 September 2015

    And English? Why are we willing to write in the language of the Vietnam war; of the daily drone murders in Yemen, Waziristan, Pakistan, Afghanistan? Why are we willing to use the language that caused the suffering leading the human chain of displacement snaking its way to YES – GERMANY and Austria, the only countries in the world where refugees from suffering caused by the English speaking nations are treated with any modicum of decency. Where is England, which had a major hand in causing this suffering, in all of this? English diminishes, it enables the great illusion of democracy under the name of the great English speaking oppression perpertrated by the USA and its little poodle, England and, through the mass hypnosis perpetrated by the English language press. Nothing is more dangerous to world peace right now than the zombi – like state induced by English language propaganda.

  45. exafrica exafrica 26 September 2015

    How do you propose to assist Afrikaans speaking students who wish to study but cannot do so because they are compelled to do so in English (also at Stellenbosch? And the students I am referring to do not have white skins.)

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