The University of Johannesburg, in collaboration with Indigenous Languages Initiative for Advancement (ILIFA) Lethu Institution, celebrated the International Mother Language Day (IMLD) on 21-02-2020 at the University of Johannesburg's Soweto Campus. ILIFA Lethu, as an organisation, "seek to provide a shield and engage in the development and preservation of indigenous languages, which are not only carriers of culture, but means of communication for the majority of South African citizens." The founding member of the organisation is the legendary South African actor and activist, Mr. Mabutho "Kid" Sithole.
The highlight of the event was a keynote address from the Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. He delivered a speech themed, "Indigenous Languages Usage: A Constitutional Imperative" which was also this year's theme for the IMLD. What stood out from Mogoeng's speech was mentioning that, "those who are taught in mother tongue find it easy to assimilate information…and perform better" and added, "the notion that you are limiting your chances of interacting with global people if you speak your mother tongue is false".
After the Chief Justice's speech, there was a Question and Answer Session where he engaged with the audience on issues concerning indigenous languages of South Africa. There were also performances from artists including the People's poet, Mzwakhe Mbuli. Other delegates who were in the event were Prof Brendan Barnes, Acting Vice-Dean: Faculty of Humanities (UJ); Executive Mayor: City of Johannesburg; Prof Zilibele Mtumane, Head: School of Languages - Faculty of Humanities (UJ); Khoisan Community Paramount Chief: Cornelius Botha. The following partners supported the event: UNISA, ATKV, and Puku, an online children's African literature encyclopaedia.
Themba Madingiza, Lecturer in the Department of African Languages, University of Johannesburg.
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