Sunday, May 22, 2005

‘Total onslaught on Afrikaans’ ...language of the oppressed?

The following report appeared in the South African newspaper, "Die Wêreld" (The World).

"The Democratic Alliance and the Freedom Front took up the cudgels on behalf of Afrikaans this week in parliament. Outside parliament, Afrikaans activists like Steve Hofmeyr are fighting for Pretoria’s name and in the Kalahari, parents are locked in battle to keep their schools Afrikaans.

It seems the dam has broken and people have suddenly realised that, notwithstanding Pallo Jordan’s vehement denials in parliament and various reassurances by Mr Mbeki, the ANC is not well disposed towards Afrikaans. In fact, Jordan’s denials took the form of a sharp attack on what he dismissed as ‘hysterical nonsense’. And this while his comrades in Pretoria and Limpopo, despite growing opposition, continue to remove Afrikaans place names and target one Afrikaans school after another.

Jordan threw out a challenge for Afrikaans books that have been banned and writers who have been gagged to be named. But he said nothing about Afrikaans schools and the huge number of Afrikaans children who have been deprived of their basic right to mother tongue education. Of course not.

What is of great concern is the ANC’s willingness to spend the taxpayer’s money on court cases against school governing bodies. In effect, the taxes paid by Afrikaans parents are being used to deprive their children of their language rights! Local authorities in Pretoria, the City of Tshwane, are impervious to the astronomical cost of changing the name. And whose money are they spending?

If the ANC were running a competent government and public service, one might see things a little differently. But after 11 years in power, there are still umpteen schools that don’t have even the most basic amenities, and even more where the standard of education is abysmal. The ANC should be addressing those problems rather than using ‘access’ to good schools as an excuse for their onslaught against Afrikaans schools. They would far rather level accusations of racism against Afrikaans parents who maintain and improve their children’s schools. It’s always easier to accuse others than it is to do something yourself.

The matter is out in the open. If a systematic attack on Afrikaans is ‘hysterical nonsense’, the ANC can prove it by retaining Pretoria’s name, restoring the names of Pietersburg and other towns and cities in the province of Limpopo and withdrawing the legal action against schools in the Northern Cape.

Should the ANC continue its assault on Afrikaans, the word ‘oppression’ will disappear from its vocabulary and become the property of the Afrikaans minority.
How strange that a liberation movement should be so insensitive to the freedom of others."

Click here to go to their website, and here to directly access the report.