A/Xarra Forum members Tauriq Jenkins, Gregg Fick, Eleanor Smith and Gertrude Fester, with Bradley van Sitters carrying out a ritual in the background. Photo: Supplied
Cape Town – A cleansing ceremony was performed to mark the inaugural class of the Khoekhoegowab language course at UCT this week.

The course was launched at the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED) on Monday after it was announced by the university during its Africa Day celebration as part of UCT’s Africa Month programme.

Members of the A/Xarra Restorative Justice Forum commemorated the momentous occasion with the cleansing ceremony.

Forum chairperson Tauriq Jenkins said the ceremony was a fundamental tradition of the indigenous culture.

“It was also fitting that we mark this momentous event with a spiritual ceremony as this course comes from a culmination of our collaboration with the university on transformation on its campus.

“This course symbolises the strides the university is making towards that end and for us, it was a step towards recognition and restorative justice for our language, which was nearly destroyed by the injustices of the past,” said Jenkins.

Colonialism was one of the main causes of this decimation of the language and culture. Today there are about 167 000 speakers of Khoekhoegowab. Roughly 39% are Nama and 60% are Damara.

CHED Multilingualism Education Project co-ordinator at the Centre for Higher Education Development, Professor Mbulungeni Madiba said they were overwhelmed by the interest in the course.

“We were initially only going to introduce the course to students but since we announced it there was so much interest and now we have 60 students, which include staff and members of the public in our four classes,” he said.

For more information on UCT’s Khoekhoegowab language course, contact the Centre for Extra-Mural Studies, telephone 021 650 2885, email [email protected]