When I was 13 years old I was given a dog as a gift by the white Afrikaans speaking family because they were moving from Reitz to Bethlehem in the Free State Province. I was a student at Leifo- Iziko Secondary school.From that year I have decided to learn Afrikaans in order to speak with my dog that understand Afrikaans and also to make sure that it understand my instruction. Soon teachers were having tough times during Afrikaans period, I was asking terms that were difficult for my Afrikaans teacher who was Mr. Mocker by that time. Unconsciously learning Afrikaans and I ended up having many white friends and being the best in Afrikaans. In the process I managed to build a good relationship with my dog. One day it was knocked down by a fast car and died. I cried that afternoon, it was as if a piece of me died also. To this day, I hate reckless drivers.
Then in 1994 I started my studies at VISTA University Soweto Campus. I did not know what to study and look around what other students were registering for, then I saw a short line and joined it. It was a line of those who wanted to do teaching and that’s how I registered to be a teacher. Don’t forget I was from country side where Career Guidance did not exist. I majored in Afrikaans and History. The same year in May I have won the 1st prize for writing the best Afrikaans poem tittled” O die huilboerboom”. It was published in Beeld newspaper which means I get money from University and also from Beeld newspaper for publishing my poem. In 1997 I was selected best Afrikaans student at my university and they gave me an overseas trip to Belgium together with other 62 students selected from different universities in South Africa. I was amongst the three black student in that trip. Thousand kilometers away from home when landing in Belgium people could hear me speaking in Afrikaans and I could hear them speaking Nederlands because it is very close to Afrikaans.I was so proud that white Afrikaans speaking people in my country managed to develop their language until it reach international status. This means that we were able to do business transactions in Afrikaans globally and to me ,this is a great success.
Then when I come back in the same year in September I launched the first branch of ATKV(Afrikaans Language and Culture Organization) branch in Soweto and no whites stays here. Three hundred students attended on that night and the ATKV delegated Mr. Koos Greeff to represent them and also paid the most expensive Afrikaans artist Logner de Kok and Westhuisen to grace our function. Their song “Tussen Treine” stole the night! We really enjoyed. These branch assisted to build the bridge between many blacks and whites. We created games and programs that assisted to build relationships and understand our differences and how to live together harmoniously. Many black students at VISTA University during my time used ATKV bursaries and loans to further their studies. Since then I have stopped criticizing whites and joined those progressive whites in building our country and we have done a lot to date.
The point I am trying to raise is that what I saw in our television over the past two weeks at our Universities #Afrikaansmustfall campaign is really tearing me apart.In 1976 the students fight was genuine because they were oppressed and forced to learn in Afrikaans and they ended up not attending school which one way or the other ended up having a negative impact. Now our students are digging up a big grave for themselves by saying “Transformation before education”and burning their institutions. What is disturbing in this 2016 revolution we have one group that want to suppress the constitutional rights of the other group. We understand that universities in South Africa has a dual policy that is not functional. We understand that certain positions like registrar and finance is still in the hands of whites in UJ and they control who gets access and who get funding. We understand that accommodation is still reserved in some universities for whites, but that does not give our students rights to burn universities. The inclusion of the other group should not be the exclusion of the other group. Transformation takes time and we need matured negotiators. Statistics show that students learn better in their mother tongue and you use up to 27% of resources to teach unlike when learning in other languages. Students get more insight ,skills and good knowledge when learning in their mother tongue. Look at the unemployment statistics ,the number of unemployed white youth is 12% and the number of unemployed black youth is at 43%. So this tells us that we need to learn from Afrikaans and English how they managed to develop their language to that level and ask them to assist us ,not to destroy Afrikaans. Our students are better positioned to understand that we are leaving in a democratic country and all 11 official languages are protected by the constitution of this country. Every group should be allowed to speak their language and practice their culture freely at our institutions. I hate the call made by students that English should be the only medium of instruction at our universities. This is what we call” Englicisme” or Englicising in Afrikaans whereby you force everyone to speak English by force. theres no language with empty hands,as soon as you decide to do that language you are also indirectly drinking their culture which is the choice I made voluntary with Afrikaans.
I want to edge our students to go back to their institutions and learn. The economy is all about skills and knowledge. Right now we are at the 4th Industrial Revolution and I don’t think they are ready .But the biggest plea, leave Afrikaans alone and let us develop our own languages as blacks. “Leadership is based on inspiration, not domination; on cooperation, not intimidation…”William Arthur Ward. Lets work together to bring back our Rainbow nation.