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A Celebration of Two Years – iMAG

MW Jadezweni; iMAG

Talk presented on 16 October 2004 by MW Jadezweni
Dept of African Languages
University of Stellenbosch
P/Bag X1
Matieland
7602

Bhotani mawethu! Goeienaand, dames en here! Good evening, ladies and gentlemen!

It is indeed a great honour for me to address this gathering on behalf of iMAG on the occasion of our joint celebrations with the IiLwimi Sentrum. I-MAG (Multilingualism Action Group) celebrates two years of existence this year. IiLwimi Sentrum is of course, five years old this year. The appropriate term to describe this age difference (the coming into being) would be amafumanana-nkundleni (“the ones who were nearly born at the same time”). This is true as five and two are almost equal, as both numerals are described as below ten.

Dames en here, I first want to thank you all – Siyabulela! Ons sê baie dankie! – that you could attend lo msitho in such big numbers. We have no doubt that multilingualism is close to the heart of each one of you. We feel honoured and convinced at the same time that IiLwimi and iMAG have got members and supporters who believe in what our two organisations stand for. Nogmaals baie dankie dat u gekom het.

I-MAG (die Meertaligheidsaksiegroep) owes its existence to organisations like IiLwimi Sentrum, PRAESA, the Western Cape’s PLC and our educational institutions in the Western Cape who were always prepared to host our meetings and provide whatever support the founding members needed for the organisation. I-MAG would like to extend a warm word of gratitude to these organisations. Die Taalsekretariaat word uitsonder vir sy uiterste ondersteuning. Prof André van der Walt, namens iMAG wil ons graag baie dankie sê vir al u ondersteuning en trou aan die organisasie. Sisoloko sibafuna abantu abanjengawe ndoda yamadoda. Prof Charlyn Dyres of IiLwimi Sentrum iMAG, thank you very much for your role as chairperson of the founding committee. The foundation that you and your committee laid is so strong that for iMAG it has been so easy to go through the two years without any problems. Your vision as the leader of the organisation through its formative stages has helped us through. Sithi, Mazenethole (directly translated “koei met ’n kalf”, meaning well done!). To everyone who gave their support during the two years of our existence we say Enkosi kakhulu, Nangamso!

Fellow South Africans, iMAG’s mission is

  • to promote all the mother tongues in all spheres of life
  • ukukhuthaza ukufundwa kweelwimi zemveli eMzantsi Africa
  • om die erkenning van veeltaligheid as ‘n reg te vestig, en om gemeenskappe en owerhede aan dié reg te hou.
  • Ukukhuthaza ukusetyenziswa kweelwimi ngokulinganayo nokwamkelwa kamalungelo eelwimi kumaziko neendawo ezihlala abantu eMzantsi Afrika.

The languages that iMAG seeks to protect as the mission statement above refers to, are: Sign language, the Khoi, Nama, San and the eleven official languages as stipulated in the constitution of the Republic of South Africa, clause 6.1. On various occasions i-MAG has made her voice heard on various matters concerned with these languages. Via radio and TV talks, through conference papers, submissions to state departments and organisations, i-MAG has made an indelible mark in the language arena in South Africa. The submissions made are available on our website at http://www.imag.org.za.

I-MAG’s support of mother-tongue education has been made very visible in the media recently. As regards mother-tongue education i-MAG believes that the Western Cape matric results are a living example of the success of mother-tongue education. Over the years the Western Cape has had the highest matric pass rate compared of all the provinces in the country ( South Africa). Besides the good teachers and the excellent infrastructure the province has, the fact that the medium of instruction at the schools is either Afrikaans or English or both has made a definite contribution. The fact that the majority of learners at these schools are either Afrikaans or English speaking is reason for I-MAG to be convinced that the mother tongue plays a major role in learning. No doubt, therefore, mother-tongue instruction is the answer to our problems in the education sphere.

I-MAG shall continue to intervene wherever and whenever language rights are violated. It is quite sad to note that at the time when the country celebrates ten years of democracy there are still languages that do not enjoy any official use at all. The justice department (in the courts) is one instance where it is clear that thus far the indigenous languages of this country have no use at all. It is in this department where a case will be tried in English, for instance, even though the magistrate, accused, complainant and prosecutor speak the same indigenous language – for example isiXhosa. This is unforgivable! There are numerous other instances where the status of our official languages is not recognised at all.

From November 29 to December 2004 (this date has since been changed, a new date will be announced) i-MAG is co-hosting a conference with the theme: MULTILINGUALISM AND THE MEDIA. The aim of this conference is to get role-players and interested parties from academia as well as from the media to consider

  • how multilingualism can enable the media to improve its role in a democratic South Africa and
  • how the media can be used to develop multilingualism.

It is at this conference that iMAG hopes to get views on how media can bring about a difference in the language sphere.

With South Africa having won the 2010 soccer bid iMAG would like to target this same year as a landmark in multilingualism in the country. Sport is known worldwide as a unifier. This time around, how about using sport to make a difference in language? Dames en here, ek stel voor: voor enige ontwikkelaar begin met die bouwerk van enige stadion moet hy ’n duidelike taalplan opstel wat dit duidelik stel dat by die terrein, wat ook al, die werkers in hulle tale gaan kommunikeer. Sê nou as hulle daka maak, dan praat hulle in die taal wat almal ken. Kom ons los die practicalities to the companies. Supposing our Bafana Bafana do not make it to the finals – of course, an unlikelihood – language shall have made it to the finals if a clear language plan set for the tournament has been honoured.

I-MAG would like to commend all the compatriots who have made a difference in the promotion of multilingualism. The efforts of government officials in the promotion of our languages are acknowledged. ABSA is singled out for their contribution via “unte-nte-nte”. It is wonderful to use the ATM in the language of one’s choice. ABSA now recognises the fact that “my geld praat isiXhosa net soos enige ander taal”. We want to say thank you very much to ABSA for this contribution.

To i-MAG members and organisations, thank you very much for your commitment to the organisation. Our membership continues to grown. This includes our corporate membership. Of note is the fact that i-MAG has attracted members from all over the country. To our patrons: Madiba – Dr Nelson Mandela, Prof Cynthia Marivate, Ms Elinor Sisulu and Ms EKM Dido, who is present with us tonight, thank you very much for supporting us all the time. I-MAG will continue to grow.

To our members, a stanza from a poem written by Wauchope in 1882 in Isigidimi might help. The stanza reads:

Thambeka umhlathi ke,
Bambelel’ ebunzi
Zigqale iinyaniso,
Umise ngomxholo;
Bek’ isinto ungalwi,
Umsindo liyilo.

(Press on the page,
Engage your mind;
Focus on facts,
And speak loud and clear;
Don’t rush into battle:
Anger stutters.)

I-MAG will continue to focus on facts, speak loudly and clearly, and reason.

Baie dankie! Enkosi kakhulu!




LitNet: 24 November 2004

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