We must work hard for black languages to reign supreme
LAST Friday I was bashed and accused of being obsessed with the English language and being “less African” by callers I was engaging with during a radio interview.
I was labelled a “white man trapped in a black skin”. This was for simply highlighting the urgent need for the Basic Education Department to get the English of rural pupils on par.
This got me thinking. As blacks we are quick to raise our voices about the promotion of our indigenous languages, but we lack insight and practicality. We are in no position to impose our indigenous languages on the world, I dare use the word impose. However I realised something even more disheartening; we have little know-how about the relationship between the economy and language(s).
We have little knowledge of how the world works. We have been badly misinformed. Those who told us we had to be proud of our cultures and traditions which include embracing our languages forgot to tell us this all- important fact: those who run the economy decide which language will be used globally, and it is usually their language that will be imposed on everyone else.
The lessons and addresses of Heritage Month (September) should go deeper than talking about language and attire.
It should educate the public about how their languages can be global, perhaps then we will start working on getting our languages to control the economy.
Unfortunately, it is not the majority of people from a specific ethnic group that dictate which language is to be used.
It is those who run the economy who determine the language. When we got our political freedom we should have pondered how we would attain economic freedom at that time because language and the economy are intertwined.
The Mandelas and the Sisulus used the English language to break free from the Afrikaners. They used the very same language to get global support for their cause. It is a language that rules the world, because it is the language that belongs to those that run the world or the global economy.
Again we have to understand this, especially those blacks who live in urban areas; many of you have enrolled your children for Mandarin lessons or your children are studying this Chinese language as a secondary language at their respective schools. The Chinese can impose their languages on the world because their own economy influences global markets, especially South Africa.
Please show me a Venda, Tsonga or Sotho village that is contributing immensely to the global economy.
Name just one huge company owned by Zulus or Tswanas that is globally recognised and its production is recognised worldwide or by significant role players in the global economy.Hence they are not important to the global village. The Afrikaners can have space to demand that their language be embraced at companies and in places of learning because they own more than 55% of our country’s economy.
Those are sad facts of our reality and we are sitting here worried about being proud of our languages and promoting them. The only way they are going to be promoted is if we indeed fight for radical economic transformation.
Furthermore, recognising that the English language runs the world and will do so for generations to come requires us to be well informed of global politics and economics.
Until we own our economy and the means of production in our country, we cannot talk about using indigenous languages as mediums of instruction at school, at work places, and so on.
We speak and embrace the language that runs the economy.
The world speaks the language of the strongest currency. As it stands, that language is English. Let us embrace it. Kabelo Chabalala is the founder of the Young Men Movement (YMM). Email address, firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter, @ KabeloJay; Facebook, Kabelo Chabalala