Tri-Lingual Dictionary Launch | Western Cape Government

Speeches

Tri-Lingual Dictionary Launch

13 February 2012

Ladies and gentlemen,
Colleagues,
Members of the press,

Welcome to a breakfast on Elsenburg on Valentine's Day. Normally we would be celebrating Valentine's Day in a private and intimate fashion with the closest person in your life. And I am sure many of you will still be doing just that this evening.

But today we are approaching Valentine's Day a little bit differently here at Elsenburg. We are celebrating Valentine's Day with the launch of a tri-lingual dictionary. Because, clear communication is as important in a marriage is it is out in the fields where we work.

In the Western Cape Province, three main languages make up the bulk of how we communicate with one another. 17% of the people are English speaking, 58% speak Afrikaans and 19% of our people are isiXhosa speaking. It therefore makes sense to also have these three languages as our official languages in the Western Cape.

The dictionary we are launching today is proof of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture's commitment to this three-language policy. Our officials are often working in isolated and far-flung parts of our province. To be understood on the West Coast in the Namaqualand is not the same as is the case in the Southern Cape on our border with the Eastern Cape.

South Africa is a unique country due to the diverse groupings of people united in one nation. There was a time in our past when we viewed ourselves first and foremost in a specific ethnic, cultural or clan association. Those days are gone and today we are all South Africans in the first place. But we should never be scared of our diversity. We must embrace diversity and use its energy to build a thriving and energetic nation for the future.

The Western Cape Province has adopted a radically new approach to interact with its people. We, as a government, are now saying: "Better together". This means government and its citizens have responsibilities to adhere to in order to prosper.

We provide schools and teachers but you must ensure your children attend and do their homework. We provide hospitals and clinics but you must take responsibility of your own health in as far as preventable healthcare is concerned. Do not drink and drive. Get enough exercise and eat healthy food.

In agriculture, I want to see 60% of our new farmers being successful. We will provide research findings, technical assistance and infrastructure subsidies where we can. But then our new farmers must work hard at developing the land entrusted to them. And our extension officers will from now on have this dictionary, which will contribute directly to our ability to assist our farmers.

Ladies and gentlemen, "Better together" begins with understanding one another. A good dictionary is the basic tool for linking different languages in order to create understanding. But the willingness to use the dictionary must come from within your heart.

So, today is Valentine's Day, and it has everything to do with what goes on inside your heart. Please make some space for this dictionary in your heart as well. Let us love one another, even if we are very different, and cannot always understand what the other person is saying. Find the effort to translate in your heart.