Tabarnese Voices - Free and independent voices

Mother language day - From apartheid to immersion

- -
Cultural repression also exists when majority languages are persecuted
Voces Layetanas
Concordia Catalana 21/02/2022 3370
We have all heard of apartheid.  South Africa and Namibia were subjected by a white minority to a shameful system of racial segregation that divided its citizens into two groups according to their skin color.  For many adults, this outrage seems like something from a long, long time ago, while (to give an example) we remember the Barcelona Olympics as if they had happened yesterday (at least those of us over 45 years old) and it is difficult for us to believe that the year in which apartheid ended was the same in which the Olympic flame rested in Barcelona.
But although the essence of that discrimination was racism, an aspect that no South African forgets is cultural repression.  The elitist white minority sought to impose Afrikaans as the preferred language, because the language was a key factor in the national construction of South African nationalism, and the English language, a residue of the British colonial period, had become de facto a common language in a territory with hundreds of local languages.  This common language meant for South Africans a cultural link with the British, and that, for Afrikaner nationalists, was a threat to the implementation of their national language.  English was the language of the enemy, the language of the invader, and it could not be allowed to threaten the supremacy of Afrikaans.
Therefore, to the well-known segregation by race, a policy of linguistic imposition was added in schools, giving preference to Afrikaans, teaching in that language (majority among whites) the subjects that allowed them to build a good future and relegating English and minority languages (majority among blacks) for cultivation techniques and work on the land.  The National Party imposed this system in all schools, whether white or black, and when asked by journalists about whether blacks would be consulted, the person in charge of education, Punt Janson, stated that "I haven't done it nor will I do it", because the African school was a topic that did not allow debate. Students and teachers rebelled and were harshly repressed by the regime, which caused hundreds of deaths, including among children.
What happened in that period not only made the world aware, even more, of the meaninglessness of racial segregation, but also that it's not always the minorities that are marginalized and repressed but, sometimes, when an elitist minority controls power and benefits from an unfair electoral law and superior resources, it can repress the culture and rights of a majority.
The United Nations maintains the evident consensus that all languages ​​must be preserved and that all citizens have the right to develop in their mother tongue.  For this reason, UNESCO, a specialized agency of the United Nations, established February 21 as International Mother Language Day in 1999, a right that should be evident but is still denied by politicians whose objectives do not prioritize the rights of their citizens.
This is what is happening today in Catalonia, when demonstrations using pro-independence flags are organized in front of schools where parents are asking for their children the right to study in their own language.  Like this weekend in Esplugues del Llobregat, when a small group of activists from Arràn demonstrated in front of an Escuela de Todos tent (which required the protection of the Mossos d'Esquadra). Arràn members where displaying a banner that called out in Catalan : "For the language and for the land, the young people on the warpath".  Because when language is repressed, it's usually for political reasons.
Because the trees, the mountains or the sand that covers the ground do not speak English, Afrikaans, Spanish or Catalan.  Culture, and especially the mother tongue, is the heritage of the people, and should never be denied to them.
That's the right that is claimed today throughout the world.


Onda Layetana News: Related Posts