SA Universities and International Institutions Partner on Project to Preserve African Languages

J Mananiso

The ANC believes in promoting African languages that were degraded and marginalised by apartheid and colonialism. We therefore commend the partnership of SA universities and international institutions on a project to preserve African languages. The use of African languages as a medium of instruction in higher education institutions in the Eastern Cape and countrywide took a giant step forward recently when Rhodes University joined a consortium of national and international universities in the Baqonde project. This collaboration is an effort to revive and preserve indigenous African languages.

The project is called “Baqonde” and is funded by the European Union. Its aim is to facilitate and promote the use of indigenous African languages as mediums of instruction at higher education institutions in SA, and advance the objectives of the Language Policy Framework for Public Higher Education Institutions. The literal meaning of the word Baqonde is “let them understand” in the Nguni languages. Other SA universities involved in the project are North West University, University of KwaZulu-Natal and University of the Western Cape. Salamanca University in Spain, Trinity College Dublin in Ireland and University of Groningen in the Netherlands are the three European institutions taking part in the initiative. We believe that projects like this one are a step towards the restoration of dignity and parity of esteem for indigenous languages, and should be commended.