Follow in the Footsteps of Dr Neville Alexander
A fitting tribute to the life and work of Dr Neville Alexander, which formed part the International Mother Language Day celebrations, inspired many to follow in his footsteps.
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport partnered with the XhosAfrika Network, the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa (PRAESA) and others to host this event at the University of Cape Town on Saturday, 23 February 2013.
A linguist, academic and struggle veteran, Dr Alexander was often described as a proponent of multilingualism in education. As one of the founder members of the XhosAfrika Network, he was also a member of the Western Cape Language Committee since its inception in 1999 to 2005. Dr Alexander played a leading role in language policy development. He was one of the pioneers responsible for the conceptualisation and formulation of the Western Cape Language Policy, which was launched on International Mother Language Day on 21 February 2005. This put the Western Cape firmly on the map, being the only province in the country to have an official language policy.
Speaking at the event, Director of Arts, Language and Culture, Ms Jane Moleleki said the Department has been fortunate to work closely with Dr Alexander through PRAESA and others, and valued the guidance and leadership he continued to give on language matters affecting the province.
The Department also awarded the first-ever Neville Alexander Award for multilingualism at the annual Provincial Cultural Awards ceremony on Monday, 11 February 2013.
Dr Ivan Meyer, the Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, said it was fitting that the Department and its partners paid tribute to Dr Alexander’s life and work. “Being independent and a lateral thinker on language and cultural rights, he will always be remembered for his commitment to multilingualism in a diverse society. He devoted more than twenty years of his professional life to defend and preserve multilingualism in South Africa and became one of the major advocates of linguistic diversity,” said Dr Meyer.
Dr Nomfundo Mali of XhosAfrika Network encouraged the public to follow in Dr Alexander’s footsteps and preserve and promote their home language. This tribute to the icon served as a firm reminder of the giant steps he has taken in the language and political arenas to ensure a better South Africa.