CELEBRATING FREEDOM IN LANGUAGE

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  • On Freedom Day, PanSALB underscores the significance of linguistic diversity for genuine democratic participation, emphasising the importance of engaging individuals in languages they understand.
  • CEO Lance Schultz highlights South Africa’s progress in recognising and promoting linguistic diversity over the past three decades, from two official languages during apartheid to 12 in the new dispensation.
  • PanSALB’s constitutional mandate includes safeguarding language rights, prioritising all official languages, and elevating indigenous languages to be recognised in science, technology, and business, thereby fostering greater democratic participation.

 With South Africa today commemorating Freedom Day, the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) has highlighted the importance of individuals being able to express themselves in languages they understand.

“Today as we celebrate this remarkable milestone, it is essential to recognize that for democracy to flourish, linguistic diversity must be valued as a reliable guide towards the future. Engaging people in a language they understand is critical for genuine participation in democracy,” Chief Executive Officer of the PanSALB, Lance Schultz said on Saturday.

On 27 April 1994, South Africa changed forever as millions of people went to the polls to cast their vote in the first democratic elections.

Schultz’s comments come as President Cyril Ramaphosa led the 2024 Freedom Day national celebrations at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

“As we mark three decades since the transition from apartheid to democracy, it is worth celebrating the incredible progress we’ve made in recognizing and promoting linguistic diversity,” said the CEO.

He added that South Africa’s expansion from two official languages during the apartheid era to 12 in the new dispensation is a restatement to the great strides that have been made in safeguarding language rights.

“There is no doubt that one of the key aspects of democracy is engaging and communicating with people in languages that they understand and for the past 30 years, the right to use one’s own language  has been protected,” said Schultz.

The PanSALB is entrusted with the Constitutional responsibility to ensure that all official languages enjoy priority of esteem and elevate the status of indigenous languages to be recognised as languages of science, technology, and business.

“Furthermore, it is PanSALB’s duty, within the socio-political system of South Africa to promote greater democratic participation by creating an environment where people engage in discussions over linguistic authority, knowledge production and self-determination through their use of language.”

Celebrated Under the theme: “30 Years of Democracy, Partnership, and Growth,” this year’s Freedom Month celebrations hold special significance as they also coincide with the 28th anniversary of the enactment of the South African Constitution as the supreme law of the land. -SAnews.gov.za

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