As the world celebrates world mother language day, the Cultural Religions Linguistic Rights Commission hosted a conference about the importance of multilingualism in promoting social cohesion and nation building.
One of the key themes highlighted at the conference this morning was the need to allow language to flourish academically with the commission saying multilingualism was a cherished Constitutional principle that forms part of linguistic rights.
“Accordingly, this means that the rights of the various linguistic communities to use their own languages should be promoted and supported so that they can equally take part in what the country offers its citizens,” the commission said.
Professor Monwabisi Ralarala, Director of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) African Languages Association Of South Africa said there was a need for multilingual programmes for students in order to be a "wholitis student".
“If you take a medical student to a rural area, it is expected that the student speak the language of the people,” said Ralarala.
Echoing the sentiments of overcoming the linguistic barriers in the country was Professor Kwesi Kwaa Prah, founder of the Centre for the Advanced Studies of Africans Societies.
“Lift the language and you will lift the people,” said Prah.
“We must make it profitable to use our languages and so this Commission should consider. The issue we have before us is that South Africa has the best resources to turn things around and make this a success on this continent. We will be able to turn the story of Africa around. The best place to do it is right here,” said Prah.
More on this story to follow.