Hindsight: Language is our present frontier

HISTORY»During a mellow debate which took global center stage on the minds of fans of double O’ seven which toyed with the question as to who should portray Mr. James Bond when Daniel Craig steps away from the role of the British spy a lot of commentators both abroad and home exclaimed that it was about time the franchise transformed. A univocal sentiment was bellowed: it was about time someone in the caliber of Will Smith or Idris Alba took the role in a bid to show that the franchise had entered the 21st century; that it, the franchise, was mindful of our global community (with Smith in mind this will be rather on the extreme, but why not? After all writers are versatile in spinning myths in any direction they so desire). I don’t know what flared up this explosive thinking that gripped at the British psyche as far as its gift to the world is concerned but unlike you I suspect that it was the casting of Naomi Harris as Miss Moneypenny that caused paradigmatic anomaly within the grand narrative of the famous British Spy syntactic construction thus making the latter thinking possible. May I hazard to say it is only a matter of time that the unfathomable happen. Perhaps in our lifetime. It as if someone let the door ajar to invite fantastic ideas inside.  

Image Source – https://blog.venngroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Language.jpg

»Since I am in seclusion and a few scant jottings are spewing from my pen these days I might as well take this opportunity to speak about something that is a thorn in my withdrawn mind. a horrid thing that has jolted me out of stupor. The war that is ensuing in our academic institutions; a war that seem to be determined to race all academic infrastructure to the ground. It’s a frontier war of some sort, for lack of a better term I shall call it the lingua franca war! This war it must be borne in mind has flared up and burns brighter at the presence of other wars that perhaps we as South Africans have normalized and internalized to our foreseeable detriment. The service delivery wars in our townships and the labour wars in our workplaces. Presently the center of power has quelled one war, the retirement fund reformation war, by two years discounting the labour dispute interludes that we can anticipate will take place over the coming two years during June/July. But make no mistake this is just a delay for the retirement fund reformation war will rear its head again sometime in 2018.

At the advent of the two year suspension of the pension fund reformation the centre of power had been squeezed by the global negative response towards the former financial minister dismissal and the resultant severe weakening of the rand. Unashamedly, the centre straightened itself upright and stood. Brought back someone whom the republic and the rest of the new brave world was familiar with to quell the flared nerves somewhat. However with it’s back still pressed hard against the wall by labour (we will refer to it as dissidents just now) suspicious of the centre of power’s salivating want to piggy bag its pension fund through what was called retirement fund reformation which bared the civil servants from fully withdrawing their pension fund when they retired. It felt its power of persuasion falter. It was threatened with unrest come the day of activation of piggy bagging. Wittily realizing the suffocating state it found itself in the centre of power had no choice but to bring back, somewhat, the state of affairs as they were and suspended the retirement fund reformation by two years. Causes of pain and stress are hard to forget. But respect for law and justice is entrenched in our modern society to a greater degree. The dissidents moved back and went back to work but as their shadows retreated there were a few shadows here and there that excitedly caressed the plush paving on which the bloody gruesome scene almost unfolded, these were the student protesters.

They were like a crease that could not be dealt with by a press of hot steamy iron. No matter how much you worked at the linen. After the protégés of the dissidents which had the centre of power pressed hard against the wall demanded that fees at academic institutions should not be increased. They were back. Actually they never left as their shadows attest herewith long after those of their parents had melted away. This time following the #FeesMustFall campaign they had one demand and one demand only. A demand which has been brewing here and there: Give us one lingua franca and get rid of the language that has long been associated with this country’s oppression or (they seem to also suggest) give our marginalized languages the prestige they have been denied for the past twenty odd or even years …mxm never mind – just acknowledge that you have failed us, from now on you will see us. Transform the academic institutions so that we can feel to be a part of them. They opined. Unlike the early dissidents, parents of the youth, the centre of power took notice of the unwavering fiery stare, confrontational tone and disregard for protocol that characterized them.

The bearers of the language that has been in privilege use in academia, giving its users an advantage to produce knowledge in their mother tongue mostly failed to see what the fuss was about. Besides the sympathizers who for some natural reason you would not easily make out even if they were smack clear in your face some snickered at the obscenity playing out as the lingua franca war ensued tinged with smoke, blood and lots of vloek across the colour spectrum and said these people could have developed their own languages all along. They failed to see that at the core of all this it is economic well positioning that the former lacked which they on the other hand had had all along and as a result they had the advantage ahead of the dissidents’ protégés. They were privilege by class (not all of them of course), language and (by that behemoth of nature) race and, allow us to add, by a policy that sought to keep others in ignorance and backwardness – apartheid. The protégés were wrong to wage a war that destroyed infrastructure that took decades or even centuries to build but we all know what a fit of anger can dose one to do.

Equally, the institutions of higher learning, that is South African academia in its totality with all is scholars in a myriad of branches of knowledge and scientific applications should have been mindful of what was coming and happening over the past twenty odd or even years; That the majority of their students population was becoming black, they were from the working class and (in often ignored terms) the poor class.

The South African Academic Institution sector should have transformed itself to be representative and accommodative of a transformed society. Higher education is not a dream of a selected few it’s a necessity for all. It is a demand of all who want a better life – rich or poor, black or white. We are in a new frontier war here where language, race, class, gender and geography are blurred. But amongst these theatres of wars playing out one theatre is amplified. I need not rehash what this jot has been about. Ehmm, your move academia. Your move


To seal off our buttery intro – In retrospect, we can unquestionably expect a British uproar the day bond transforms into a black man or a woman. It is hard to change a tradition or culture for that matter, but it is not cast in stone. If our survival depends on our culture’s dynamism we have no choice but to discursively tug at its strings, tinker with its innards and reshape it into a platform that ‘mostly’ everyone finds agreeably.


08 March

mmutle arthur Kgokong 2016