The mission of the ATKV is to promote not only Afrikaans, but multilingualism as well.
So says Japie Gouws, MD of the ATKV group, which once again has come out in support of the Pendoring Advertising Awards as a platinum sponsor.
Minority languages threatened
“According to Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, indigenous languages are spoken by the majority of people in the world. However, these languages are also the most endangered. To exclude them from the field of science, you deprive their speakers of their fundamental human right to scientific knowledge. In essence, Bokova believes that education in people’s mother tongues is the key to their upliftment,” says Gouws.
According to him, the latest census figures showed that 90% of South Africa’s citizens’ home language is not English but English, the home language of a minority group in South Africa, is now the default language. We don’t say that Afrikaans must be promoted at the expense of other indigenous languages, on the contrary, we want all the other languages to be promoted as well, and this is precisely what the ATKV is busy doing.”
Like all the other official languages, Afrikaans must constitutionally get his place in the sun. And although storm clouds are gathering over Afrikaans at schools and universities, Gouws doesn’t feel threatened.
“We must insist on our rights that are protected by our Constitution. Article 6(2) of the Constitution makes provision that the State must take practical and positive steps to uplift the status of all indigenous languages and promote the use of those languages. While the future of Afrikaans, in particular, is being threatened, little has been done to uplift and promote the other indigenous languages.
“The ATKV pro-actively looks at what is best for Afrikaans in the current political climate. While it is important that we remain an Afrikaans organisation, we try to make a difference in all the different cultures, for example, through our very popular choir events. The ATKV is the host of the biggest choir event in South Africa and for us it’s about the value of choir music, not just Afrikaans choir music.
Similarly, when the ATKV launches a project at schools, we invite the other language groups as well. They do their bit in their language, and we translate it into Afrikaans. In this way, we promote multilingualism,” he says enthusiastically.
The ATKV’s projects invariably have to do with language, but even more so with nation-building, Gouws stresses. “The ATKV succeeds in bringing the different cultural groups together. Nation-building is to celebrate and enjoy each other’s cultures.
“Our country’s motto “!ke e:/xarra//ke” means ‘unity in diversity’. We can’t manifest this if we aren’t diverse. The very popular – and diverse – Suidoosterfees, in which the ATKV is involved and which people from various culture enjoy attending, is extremely successful.
“The power of mother-tongue advertising has certainly not been developed enough. Advertising is multi-faceted; it can address any topic. In some instances it can tell engrossing stories. When we listen to each other’s stories and celebrate each other’s successes, we will attain nation-building – and that is also Pendoring’s mission.”
He calls on Afrikaans-speaking people to promote Afrikaans by not being ashamed of their language.
“Even if Afrikaans is being accused and has been blamed for some events in the past, we must remember that there is no such thing as an inferior language. We need to carry on and live in Afrikaans. On the other hand, we should not live in isolation; we should be interested in other cultures, languages and history and share and appreciate each other’s heritage. In this way, we will not only promote all our indigenous languages, including Afrikaans; we will go a long way in taking South Africa forward,” Gouws enthuses.