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Pioneers of Mother Language

21 February is International Mother Language Day – observed since February 2000 to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. The 2018 theme is : “Linguistic diversity and multilingualism count for sustainable development.

 

To celebrate this day, we would like to pay homage to Africans who have made a significant contribution to the development of South African literature in all official languages.

Here is a list of the pioneers of  Mother Language:

  • Professor Mazisi Kunene 

Professor Mazisi Kunene, is a world-renowned author of majestic poems. He wrote and published poetry in isiZulu and then translated into English. In 1993 UNESCO made him Africa's poet laureate and in 2005 he was awarded with the title of South African National Poet Laureate, in acknowledgement of Kunene’s dedication to “foregrounding and championing” African literature and languages.

 

  • Dr Hleze Kunju

 Dr Hleze Kunju is the man behind Rhodes University's first PhD thesis. Dr Hleze Kunju’s doctoral thesis has been described as “a milestone” for Xhosa academic writing and is an inspiration  in the quest for a decolonised and transformed education system in South Africa.

 

  • Brian Ramadiro 

Brian Ramadiro is doing ground-breaking work in rural schools in the Eastern Cape, empowering teachers and pupils in Eastern Cape schools. Ramadiro has been working in the field of education for almost 20 years. He started in adult education, moved on to youth work and, later, education policy research. Ramadiro and his team have been able to redesign classrooms, train and provide classroom support to more than a 100 teachers and source and create materials that work in overcrowded, bilingual classrooms using isiXhosa and English.