It is June; expect the pictures of ntate Hector Peterson and ntate Mbuyisa Makhubu and opinions about the youth of today. The June 16 riots will be shifted from being a linguistic rights movement into being an act of determination against apartheid. I bet some of you, young like me do not even know why the young and fearless generation of June 16 was massacred.
You see fellows; the June 16 struggle still exists even today. The African child in South Africa has not yet gained his linguistic rights. The section 6 of the Constitution of the Republic still remains the ignored and not achieved stipulations and nobody seems to care.
Phela the likes of ntate Hector took to the streets young as they were to demand their right to choose a language that they wanted as a medium of instruction in their education. They fearlessly took the Government of the time to the battlefield, telling it like it is that they were not going to tolerate being taught in Afrikaans.
They were rejecting the language of the Master to elevate the language of the Coloniser. They wanted to be taught in English not in Afrikaans. Like the students of Stellenbosch in 2015 who also shouted for the world to hear them, as they chose a better master in #luister.
I know I will be very unpopular for saying this, but I will say it because it is a belief I hold dearly and I stand to be corrected. The class of 1976’s struggle was misguided. Choosing to be taught in English over Afrikaans did not do anyone good. English medium of instruction still proves to be a continued institutionalised colonialization of Africans. Study carefully our education system and you will see what I am going on about.
Township children are taught literacy and numeracy in their mother tongue from grade 1-3. They are given the skills to start a journey of cognitive development which are reading, writing and counting. Having been equipped with these skills in their mother tongue, in grade 4 they are introduced to content subjects in English!
The poor African child has to learn English while trying to grasp the subject matter. Is this not a resolute crippling of the young mind? The child is suddenly introduced to Natural Science, Mathematics, Social Sciences, Arts and Culture, Technology and intense English First Additional Language with no skills in the medium of instruction.
The class of 1976 left us with such legacy, where today we are denied a chance to engage with the subject matter and gain more interest in our studies from as early as grade 4.
The high school issue is no difference, the township schools’ intake for grade 8 is always more than 200 but after 5 years those who write grade 12 in the very same school are about 90, three classes of 30 or less. I also remember that when I came to Sivananda Technical High School we were about 350, we had standard 6A to 6H and when we finished, the class of 2001 was 3 classes and in total 96 learners.
What happened to the rest? They fell on the way side, the crucial and sharp corner of grade 10 was not friendly to many. This is a phase where memory and minimal skills in English are insufficient to get you by. You were now expected to apply and formulate. You had to see the implicatures in text.
Those who did not make it were crippled for a lifetime as they left the institutions believing they are intellectually challenged and that they have no ability to think and discern. Crippled by the cruel system that puts English in the centre of the classroom, a legacy handed to us by the class of 1976.
Will it be considered too harsh when I call the class of 1976 ‘successfully colonized minds or the Colloes?’ Ntate Seth Mazibuko will shout ‘No young man’ but I will carry on nonetheless.
See, language was a crucial tool of the coloniser. If we give you our language we have conquered your world view, you will never be able to define right and wrong in any other way except for in the language we have equipped you with. The class of 1976 agreed that English was a right door to the economic arena, whoever wanted to be an active participant in the economic arena needed to know English. Twenty three years in the “New “ South Africa this is still the reality, the then oppressed still have to learn the language of the Queen to be an active or rather significant partaker in the economy.
The successfully colonized breed or the Colloes will stand up and shower me with great opprobrium, in defence of themselves and the ‘martyrs ‘, ngiyaxolisa bantu abadala, qha-ke inyani kunyanzelekile ukuba mayithethwe. It is the truth that English continue to be used as language of access and we keep denying that it is not cultureless, thus in advocating for its use we are expanding the culture of the English. The Queen is very fortunate as she has the captains of the squad that pushes for self-colonialization.
Prof. Ngugi I stand here and I have had the courage to address this once and for all. There can never be the decolonisation without de-Anglicisation!!!
To the class of 1976, please borrow us your courage, your gallantry, your fortitude but please take your English with you to the grave. It is haunting us, it cripples Africans and excludes them in the economic and academic sphere. Even our leaders they would rather address the nation in English. Mispronouncing words and being a laughing stock, just because you, class of 1976 chose this bloody English.
To the youth of today, let us wake up from this dream of thinking that fluency in the coloniser’s language is the measure of intelligence. It is the loss of who we are, it is the subverting of Africa.
There I said it in a 1000 English words.