“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, it goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, it goes to his heart” | Nelson Mandela.
To be born in a gentrified and cosmopolitan nation, with multiculturalism in our founding history, it’s easy to suffer an identity crisis and become estranged to your cultural origins that run in your ancestral bloodline.
Entertainment connects us to our language and keeps our culture alive. We acknowledge the efforts of children and adults who spend hours (sometimes days) trying to perfect dance movements, learn words of the songs, lip sync with accuracy, find appropriate costumes, do hair and make-up, and then record their performances, edit and share videos on various platforms.
This year we had the song Kaavalaa (from superstar Rajinikanth’s Jailer) trend with a catchy tune and simple dance steps, which attracted many youths. Tamil influencers in South Africa need to be encouraged to learn the language and create a solid identity in the digital space.
Let us put in energy and effort toward empowering ourselves with our Tamil language and adopting the Tamil culture to ensure our heritage language lives on for future generations. Our ancestors arrived with a loin cloth and a progressive vision.
In 2023, we face the near death of our language, culture, value systems and that very vision of those who came before us. We are in this situation because of complacency and lack of interest. It’s time to make Tamil trend not just through entertainment but edutainment.
South African Tamil influencers, use your space to promote the language and culture that is in your DNA. Those who are emotionally attached to the language are actively involved in preserving, promoting and propagating it, while the rest of us focus on making a living.
Truth is, we are in this position today because Tamil cannot pay our bills, but rest assured it will be your guiding force to meaningful living. Let us learn together. The rich history of Tamil (classical language), music, dance, devotional and doctrinal literature should become an integral part of our existence and not just a sentimental photo on a shelf that is looked at occasionally.
Let us not take for granted the efforts made by those who came before us. It was their blood, sweat and tears that fertilised the soil we eat from today. As an ode to them, make an effort to learn your heritage language. The thinking generations do not follow simply because they are commanded to. They ask questions and expect logical and practical answers.
We need to empower ourselves so we can empower the young mind. Our history reminds us that we have the power of choice to make a difference, and that education can either be limiting or liberating. Make the choice and learn your heritage language. It is time to continue the 1860 legacy. Together we make Tamil trend.
Sivani Chinappan Moodley is an award-winning actress, radio and stage personality, international performing artist, director, choreographer and educator.