Debate reveals language remains a barrier

Shaanaaz de Jager

PROMOTING the importance of indigenous languages among today’s youth and the importance of voting were discussed at a debate at the Red Location Museum in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, yesterday.

Even though only about 30 young people – pupils and students – attended, their views were strong expressed. The debate was hosted by InkuluFreeHeid (IFH), a youth movement launched in February, with no political affiliation.

Debate facilitator and IFH director Olwam Mnqwazi told the participants that on June 16 1976, language was an issue.

“They wanted to be taught in a language so they and their kids could understand.” A participant said the fact that papers for subjects like maths and science were not in Xhosa, but in English and Afrikaans, contributed to low pass rates.

Another issue was that of job interviews being conducted in English.

“The [Xhosa-speaking] person being interviewed in English is often seen as incompetent because they don’t round their vowels properly,” Mnqwazi said. Even though InkuluFreeHeid is not a political party they encourage the youth to vote in next year’s national elections.

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University communications lecturer Brightness Mongolothi said it was the “responsibility of each of us to empower ourselves on the policies of political parties and not only depend on what the media tells us”.

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