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The Afrikaans debate was not about language, but keeping ...


The Afrikaans debate was not about language, but keeping baasskap alive

Thankfully, Afrikaans youth know the world has changed and accept the Stellenbosch Varsity ruling


And so eventually the debate on Afrikaans in universities ended not with a bang but a whimper in the Constitutional Court last week. Decades of intense struggles to maintain a few exclusive Afrikaans universities, at one point, and then to retain Afrikaans as a primary language of instruction, at a later point, all came to a screeching halt in the court of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

I lived through the worst of those debates on three historically Afrikaans university campuses; a placard at the University of Pretoria, Praat Afrikaans of hou jou bek (Speak Afrikaans or shut up), still disturbs me. It is therefore a relief that the language question has finally been put to bed.

The question of Afrikaans in the classroom was never about language. It was about power. It was about a group that had lost political power now trying to reassert its identity and authority through Afrikaans. It was about Afrikaans as the proprietary rights of the few and not as a linguistic asset belonging to the many...

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