College of Humanities

Colloquium celebrates 15 Years of UKZN’s Language Policy

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Professors Sipho Seepe and Pedro Alvarez-Mosquera presented keynote addresses at the colloquium.
Professors Sipho Seepe and Pedro Alvarez-Mosquera presented keynote addresses at the colloquium.

UKZN’s College of Humanities and the National Institute for The Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) co-hosted a language colloquium under the theme Celebrating 15 years of the UKZN language policy and UNESCO declaration of a decade of indigenous languages 2022-2032. The colloquium promoted African languages as factors of African integration and development within the African continent.

Dean and Head of the School of Arts Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa said, ‘Staff within the College have worked closely with the University Language Planning and Development Office to implement the policy and intellectualise isiZulu.’

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College, Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize commented, ‘Language and knowledge construction is not just a medium of communication, but it plays a role in problem solving.’ He added that languages in society, colonialism, education and gender are intricately woven into indigenous knowledge systems and ‘the African language/s is central in decolonising the curriculum.’

Keynote addresses were delivered Professor Sipho Seepe, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Institutional Support at the University of Zululand and Professor Pedro Alvarez-Mosquera who teaches language and linguistics in the English Department at the University of Salamanca.

Seepe looked at justice and language in order to redress coloniality, noting that Africans still use the language of their colonisers. Court proceedings occur in a language which most barely understand, which is a travesty of justice.

‘It is common in the academy for a supervisor who is not conversant in an African language to be a promoter of a student who is looking into African languages,’ said Seepe. ‘UKZN should be congratulated for having had the foresight and courage as early as 2006 to bring on board language as part of its transformation agenda. Going beyond the usual advocacy rhetoric is an act of intellectual courage as much of what is presented as scholarship mimics what happens in the colonial metropoles.’

He highlighted the need to deconstruct the logic of the dominant paradigm and the appropriation of an intellectual space to enable African scholars to reclaim the responsibility of defining their own “narratives”.  He said that an intellectualised language should be technically and terminologically equipped to be utilised in at every level in all fields of education.

Alvarez-Mosquera contributed to the ongoing debate on how to foreground the use of African languages in South African Higher Education by means of the Erasmus + Capacity Building Project BAQONDE.

BAQONDE is a collaborative effort between the European Union (EU) and South African Higher Education Institutions. Alvarez-Mosquera noted that it ‘brings together national and international cooperative work focusing on innovative multilingual teaching methodologies, the development of new materials to teach/learn multilingually, and fostering top-down (inter-institutional) strategies to guarantee more inclusive access to HE.’ The project ‘highlights, in all its dimensions, the fundamental role of languages ​​in the social cohesion and development of a country.’

Acting Director for UKZN’s Language Planning and Development Office Mr Khumbulani Mngadi presented an overview of the University’s Language Policy Plan Now and Beyond Review. The proposed new language policy dispensation for 2019 to 2029 is the full intellectualisation of isiZulu, corpus planning and status planning and the University Language Board started the review process in May 2021. Mngadi noted, that ‘Acquisition planning is left to Colleges. This elevates isiZulu to be a language of research and innovation with renewed vigour.’

Other UKZN academics and scholars that presented their papers at the colloquium were:

  • Dr Malusi Mkhize and Professor David Lockhat Intellectualisation of African Languages in Engineering: Current status and approach.
  • Dr Elke Steinmeyer The use of isiZulu for the teaching of Latin grammar – a case study
  • Dr Tholani Hlongwa and Dr Sanele Nsele Isihloko: Inqubomgomo yolimi yaseNyuvesi yaKwaZulu-Natali njengesisekelo ekuthuthukiseni izingcwaningo ngesiZulu ulimi lwezifundiswa: Ukuninga ngesidlule kukho.
  • Dr Phindile Dlamini and Dr Andrew-John Bethke Tackling the Lexical Gap between English and isiZulu in Music: A Collaborative Translation Journey to Isingeniso Sesisekelo Kwezomculo
  • Dr Phindile Dlamini and Mr Edwell Dzomba Policy Position and Practice in the Teaching and Learning of Kiswahili at the University of KwaZulu-Natal: A Language Management Approach
  • Dr Monique Whitaker Using language tutors to enhance teaching and learning Institution
  • Prof Nogwaja Zulu The management of the use of official language by the South African government in communicating Covid-19 healthcare messages
  • Ms Samukelisiwe Madondo and Dr Desire Manicom The Implementation of Tertiary Education Language Policy: A Case Study of the Language Policy of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Pietermaritzburg campus)