Afrikaans

The debate is not a legal one. The dilemma is a moral one.

For Afrikaners, discussions about mother tongue education and self-expression can never be discussions about language and culture per se. Our history of exploitation and dominance took away the luxury of chatting about language and culture without speaking of privilege and access.

The first question is whether government funds should be used to fund Afrikaans activities, e.g. education? Personally, I think it should not. Afrikaans has been historically advantaged by the Apartheid regime. Our other indigenous languages were neglected. Today state funds should go to education that is accessible to all and particularly the poor. That might entail primary and secondary education in Sotho, Zulu or Tswana; if that is an expressed need.

Afrikaans in Stellenbosch? If the coloured population has primary access to study in Stellenbosch then the Western Cape could indeed be an exception. Is Stellenbosch a university where white folk from all parts of South Africa go? Is Afrikaans classes a tool to keep the culture white? Even if it aint the intent, it is the consequence.

Second question: Are Afrikaners entitled to use their own money (after paying tax) to build and run their own Afrikaans-Christian residences or their own Afrikaans schools and universities? Legally, they might have the right, but is it morally right? Afrikaners already has the best access to education, and creating hubs of excellence in Afrikaans will de facto be exclusionary, simply due to demographics.

So if Afrikaners want to make excellent schools and universities in Arikaans, they better have big budgets for accessibility and scholorships, fighting to give coloured and African students a chance to join, if they can speak Afrikaans. It might sound colonial, to demand Afrikaans, but if private individuals pay for Afrikaans education, then invitation extended to blacks, will obviously have Afrikaans as prerequisite. The same principle applies to private Christian schools.

So, for every Afrikaans creche, Afrikaners should build a Tswana or Tsonga creche, in full partnership with equal tools and offerings. In this sense, we literally buy our right to self-expression. Education is such a basic and dire need, that it seems unproblematic. But the same moral imperative could hold for Afrikaans cultural festivals. KKNK might need to empower other cultures and languages as part of their costs and operations, so that the stance and positioning is one of humility and not a middle finger of insensitivity. To point to black multi-millionaires and demand that they sponsor Pedi or Venda festivals, might be very poignant, but it does not absolve Afrikaners from their responsibility, as beneficiaries of past privilege.

All the above inevitable will creep up onto and into our churches. Are Afrikaners entitled to sit in cosy white spaces of homogenous comfort? By holding Afrikaans services in Joburg, you are assured a massive white majority. The NG Kerk seems to be the final pocket of apartheid, untouched by the democratisation, decolonising and restitution of post-94 South Africa. Under which conditions will a NG Kerk be allowed to hold Sunday services in Afrikaans, without automatic labels of racism?

Sometimes we have to suspend and sacrifice our language. Sometimes we might keep (koester) our language, but the attitude by which we express this desire and need of mother tongue worship should be an apologetic one, a positioning of humility and conditionality. White churches should embrace and befriend black churches, sharing money and assets, sharing events, being friends and doing life together. That implies the staff and gemeenteraad being mixed, even overwhelmingly black. Then the Afrikaans sermon becomes a small element of a healthy church.

As Afrikaners, we need to start earning our privilege, even if that privilege feels like a human right.

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