Mogoeng encourages promotion of indigenous languages in society
Africans cannot achieve self-respect and earn respect of others until they treasure their indigenous languages.
This is according Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng who was speaking at the launch of the Indigenous Languages For Advancement (Ilifa) in Soweto on Friday.
Mogoeng said restoring pride in indigenous languages would be a massive project. He told hundreds of people during the launch held at the University of Johannesburg that indigenous languages have diminished in the democratic dispensation.
“How can we hope to be respected by the English speaking people when we look down on our language and by extension, look down upon ourselves?
“Language is your identity, it tells us who you are…Speaking your mother tongue tells us how much you respect your parents or disrespect all that they stood. Language is a reflection of our consciousness of who we are,” Mogoeng said.
Ilifa is an organisation formed by legendary actor Kid Sithole to preserve indigenous languages and promote their use in all spaces in society.
Mogoeng said he was hosted by SABC television and spoke Setswana for the entire programme.
After the show, he said, he received a number of calls from people saying how impressed they were that he was fluent in his mother tongue.
“People congratulated me. Is it not embarrassing? What ought to be normal gets celebrated,” he said.
He warned Ilifa that the task to preserving indigenous languages was a massive project which would require bravery and pride.
He added that using indigenous languages could improve even education system.
“Those who are taught in mother tongue find it easy to assimilate information…and perform better. I can relate to that. Through primary education all these subjects were offered in my mother tongue. It was only when we were transitioned to secondary school that English was made a medium of communication.
“Think of any nation that has had challenges…From kindergarten, all the way to university, people learn in their mother tongue. The notion that you are limiting your chances of interacting with global people if you speak your mother tongue is false,” Mogoeng said.
Ilifa has partnered with the University of Johannesburg, Unisa and Puku, a publisher of children books written in indigenous, to preserve indigenous languages.
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