The University of Pretoria, a leading university in South Africa has officially dropped Afrikaans as an official language in favor of English.
The University says its decision to drop Afrikaans in favor of English was informed by the need to “transform the culture” of the institution of learning and make it “truly South Africa.” In South Africa, English is the most preferred language of instruction for many people.
The use of Afrikaans has been an indirect way for the white minority to discriminate the black majority who do not use the language. Afrikaans is a language developed by the whites in South Africa.
South Africa still has some deep racial division and mistrust. That is despite the fact that apartheid ended over two decades ago. The word apartheid itself is an Afrikaans word, though it has been internationalized and even inserted into the Oxford Dictionary as an English word now.
Though the language is still spoken by millions in South Africa, such moves taken by the University of Pretoria will ensure the majority in the country who do not speak the language don’t feel left out. It is interesting to note at the early years of the University’s running, most students were from Afrikaans speaking households (mostly white). However, over the years and especially after the end of apartheid, the University has been admitting an increasing number of black and non-Afrikaans students.
Yet, most of the University’s lecturers speak Afrikaans more than they do English or any other language for that matter. At the same time, building and signs posts around the campus are in Afrikaans. For students from non-Afrikaans speaking household, life at the University has all along been like institutionalized racism and alienation.
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