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Plans to make indigenous Khoisan language UCT's 4th language

According to retired University of Namibia scholar Professor Wilfrid Haacke, a Khoekhoegowab language expert, there are about 167,000 speakers of Khoekhoegowab today.

The University of Cape Town. Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - The University of Cape Town (UCT) will soon offer a short course in Khoekhoegowab, the indigenous Khoisan language, with plans in the works to make it the university's fourth official language.

The Khoekhoegowab course will be offered through UCT's Centre for Extra-Mural Studies.

Khoisan heritage activist Bradley van Sitters said unfortunately many of the continent’s indigenous languages - such as the Khoisan’s Khoekhoegowab spoken by the Nama, Damara and Haiǁom ethnic groups - were endangered. Colonialism was one of the main causes of this decimation, he said.

“We cannot celebrate things that are African without celebrating the languages. One-third of the world’s 6,000 languages are spoken in Africa,” he added.

According to retired University of Namibia scholar Professor Wilfrid Haacke, a Khoekhoegowab language expert, there are about 167,000 speakers of Khoekhoegowab today.

Referring to the lost names of Africa, he said the colonial ships that had reached the Cape shores centuries ago had been like missiles, creating craters of impact that still ripple outwards in language and culture today.

“The indigenous languages and knowledge were destroyed. The language that was once spoken here is no longer spoken before this place,” he said, referring to CHED’s headquarters in the Huri‡oaxa building. “There were people living here.”

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