Whose taal is it anyway? On Afrikaans, exclusion, identity and power

Who are the custodians of Afrikaans?

Afrikaans is still perceived by many as an exclusionary tool and the language of the oppressor.

However, the language debate in South Africa isn't as clear cut as many South Africans like to believe.

This is according to activist Zackie Achmat and HuffPost SA editor Pieter du Toit, who debated the nuanced dynamics and history of Afrikaans in the country.

The discussion comes in light of the court decision to approve the University of the Free State's (UFS) change from dual medium Afrikaans and English to an English medium education institution.

Read: ConCourt upholds UFS decision to switch language policy to English

Du Toit says that while language can be used as a tool for exclusion and discrimination, there are dangers in using Afrikaans as a political scapegoat.

Achmat says that although single language institutions are not inherently discriminatory, context always matters.

Afrikaans doesn't belong to any single group, individual or organisation.

Pieter du Toit, author and journalist

It's a tragedy that Afrikaans has become a political football over the years.

Pieter du Toit, author and journalist

It's almost impossible to divorce Afrikaans from its history as a protest language.

Pieter du Toit, author and journalist

Afrikaans has had institutional advantages since 1948, we can't deny it.

Pieter du Toit, author and journalist

The evidence lies in the context. We cannot divorce it from the people who speak it.

Zackie Achmat, activist

Afrikaans was born as a peoples language and, unfortunately, it was claimed by the white middle classes - particularly by the white nationalists classes, which became very dangerous.

Zackie Achmat, activist

Take a listen to the riveting, in-depth discussion:


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