The new generation of South African miners would rather brave Shakespeare’s tongue than speak Fanagalo, a language that has been spoken in the bowels of the earth for the past century and which miners now want abolished and phased out to improve communication and reduce accidents.
Lesiba Seshoka, the spokesman for the National Union of Mineworkers, said because South Africa had 11 official languages, workers wanted nothing more to do with Fanagalo. He said the hybrid language did not help miners’ prospects of acquiring skills.
“As far as communication is concerned, any language can be used, with preference for the indigenous language where the mine is based. For example, if a mine is based in Limpopo, Pedi can be used as a form of communication.”
Stella Carthy, an assistant skills development officer at the Chamber of Mines, said Fanagalo had been perceived as an element of “baaskapheid” because it was used by bosses to give instructions.
Carthy said the question was with what language to replace Fanagalo. She said a study on language policy would be released by the chamber at the end of the month.