Fight to write doctoral thesis in Xhosa pays off

PREMIUM

A tearful academic told students at Nelson Mandela University on Friday how she had to fight to write her thesis in the Xhosa vernacular and that her own colleagues had tried to persuade her not to do it.Dr Nozuko Gxekwa was among the academics who received certificates from arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa for their contribution towards improving indigenous languages.She was the first student to graduate with a D Litt in Xhosa in 2009.“I made a proposal to my university to do my thesis in Xhosa when I first started.“It was difficult because I faced opposition. They wanted to know how will other people understand it.“I then read the constitution which speaks about one’s right to write in a language of your choice.“The university finally agreed. We want bookshelves filled with Xhosa books.”The year 2019 has been declared the International Year for Indigenous Languages by Unesco.Speaking at the department of arts and culture language bursary presentation, Mthethwa reminded recipients of the importance of indigenous language.“You are the agents of change. It’s not going to be easy. We need people with passion to make a difference in society,” Mthethwa said.Indigenous language, he said, formed part of one’s identity. However, he warned about those who resisted indigenous languages being given the same status as languages such as English and Afrikaans.“As long as society does not see the value of language, there is little that the government can do,” he said.“We cannot be sitting here and complaining about it.”..

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