Bulelwa Basse recognised for promoting multilingualism

Bulelwa Basse holds her award alongside PanSALB CEO Lance Schultz and board members at the Durban International Convention Centre

Bulelwa Basse holds her award alongside PanSALB CEO Lance Schultz and board members at the Durban International Convention Centre

Published Mar 7, 2024


Cape Town - Founder of Lyrical Base Project and language activist Bulelwa Basse has been recognised for her exceptional work in language development and promoting the use of South Africa’s linguistic resources.

Poet and language activist Basse received the acknowledgement in the Language and Literature category for her promotion of Zulu at the Pan South Africa Language Board (PanSALB) Multilingualism Awards 2024.

Born in Soweto and raised in Langa and Gugulethu, the 44-year-old is a beacon of multilingualism who has promoted and preserved the Zulu and Xhosa languages, both of which are her mother tongue.

Basse’s love for language dated back to her upbringing, she said.

“I was read to, quite often by my mother as a child – which sharpened my listening skills.”

The PanSALB recognition is not her first, as Basse was an award-winning language and literature activist, with a Cultural Affairs Award for Best Contribution to Literary Arts including poetry, prose and playwriting.

Basse expressed her gratitude to the PanSALB for the recognition of her work.

“I dedicate this recognition to my ancestry, whose languages Zulu and Xhosa I speak to affirm my identity.

“I give thanks to this lineage of academics, linguists, orators, sages, healers, teachers, and dreamers… Ndiyabulela … Ngiyabonga … Ngilapha ngoba ngizazi ukuth' nging'bani.

“I am a descendant of both abeZulu and abeXhosa people, whose languages I embody within my modes of expression,” Basse said.

“I excel in the English language – only because I understand that I need to communicate with a global community.

“And the convenience of language translation and interpretation plays an integral part in the expansion of language services.”

She said having her work acknowledged by the PanSALB was something worth celebrating, “especially because indigenous languages deserve recognition for all the imagination they inspire in the African landscape of story-telling”.

The PanSALB Multilingualism Awards were established in 2002 to especially recognise individuals and organisations that have made exceptional contributions to preserve and promote all official languages in South Africa, including the Khoi and San languages.

The awards are aimed at celebrating linguistic diversity and raising awareness of the role of languages as a unifying agent in the country.

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Cape Argus

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