English is language of jobs, not colonialism
The real reason that virtually every African mother wants her kids to learn English is because English is the language of employment - of jobs.
There is something pathetic about the two authors’ puzzlement that people choose English in spite of “its long colonial history” .
As if that kind of politically correct nonsense is going to resonate with a family who want their children to find a job after school!
In most of these articles, almost always written by academics, there is a thread of paternalistic “we know better”. Choice of language is just that: a choice. And if millions of South Africans choose to speak and teach their kids English, there is a damn good reason for it.
There are no jobs for someone who knows only Xhosa or Sotho. You can’t get a tertiary education knowing only Venda or Tswana. You can’t get a degree in physics using Zulu.
It is an impudence for our people to be told by some academic at Rhodes University - in English, by the way - that they are choosing the wrong language because they “don’t know the advantages of their mother tongue”.
I was instrumental in building three schools in impoverished areas, and in each case the mothers came to us and said: “Please teach my child English. We can speak Xhosa to them at home, but we want them to learn English at school."
We need to respect the democratic language choice of parents for their children, and not impose some paternalistic view that implies their choice is made out of ignorance.
* Jonathan Schrire, Kenilworth.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.