DCAS celebrates Heritage Month by promoting mother tongue literature
The value of indigenous language literature was highlighted on Friday 20 September 2019 when the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) hosted a Heritage Month celebration at the Central Library in Cape Town.
The event was hosted by DCAS’s Library Service and Language Service units and saw a range of speakers from the publishing industry and languages sector.
Gadija Abdullatief, Deputy Director of the Language Service, opened the programme with a presentation on the importance of indigenous languages and the work that Language Service does in the province.
“It is through language that we communicate with the world, define our identity, express our history and culture, learn, defend our human rights and participate in all aspects of society, to name but a few,” she said. “Through language, people preserve their community’s history, customs and traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking, meaning and expression. They also use it to construct their future. Language is pivotal in the areas of human rights protection, good governance, peacebuilding, reconciliation and sustainable development.”
Ms Abdullatief also explained how the unit’s work fits into the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) declaration of 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages.
Riaan Baartman, a member of the Western Cape Language Committee, also spoke about the importance of revitalising the Khoekhoegowab language – the focus of one of Language Service’s projects.
Cecilia Sani, Director of the Western Cape Library Service, was the final speaker and focused on the Library Service’s objectives.
“To be able to read is very important. To be able to read in your home language is even more important. Reading is important because it helps you grow mentally, emotionally and psychologically. Every book, every article and every story gives you an opportunity to learn new things and explore new ideas,” she said. “The strategic objectives of the Western Cape Library Service are to provide a free and accessible library service to all who live in the Western Cape. It is even more important that we promote a culture of reading, library use and lifelong learning to everyone in our province.”
Other speakers at the event included Nelisa Lunika from the National Library of South Africa’s Centre for the Book, who spoke about publishing books in Xhosa and Carolyn Meads from Kwela Publishing who spoke about Afrikaans and Kaaps literature.
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport supports the use and preservation of our indigenous languages. Communities should ensure their languages are spoken so that they are kept alive. Let us preserve our indigenous languages for our future generations. BETTER TOGETHER.
Dr Tania Colyn
Head of Communication Service
Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport
Tel: 021 483 9877 / 076 093 4913