The civil rights organisation AfriForum and the amaNdebele interest group Vulamehlo Kusile Organisation (VUKO) launched a campaign to promote the correct capturing of cultural and language realties in South Africa. The organisations are encouraging community members to actively participate in and correctly indicate their home language and their cultural identity instead of race when participating in the Stats SA population Census of 2022.
The organisations are encouraging community members to not select a pre-specified race category, but to select the “other” option, and to then write the cultural group the person associates with in the space provided. Community members must also correctly indicate their home language and must use the space provided to indicate the language used at home if the language does not appear on the list provided.
“We need to move away from a race-based narrative and society. The reality of South Africa is that there are many different cultural groups. To use race is not only fundamentally wrong, but it paints an inaccurate picture of the complex reality at grassroot level. How can we still expect people to self-classify themselves in race groups, when race classification was abolished?” says Barend Uys, Head of Intercultural Cooperation at AfriForum.
“AmaNdebele are constantly in a fight not to be treated like second class citizens in our country of birth. IsiNdebele is not getting the respect and representation it deserves in public broadcasting and learning institutions. Communities can contribute towards having their inherent dignity being respected and protected by correctly indicating their home language and their cultural identity and not race group when participating in Census 2022,” says Elias Mahlangu, Secretary of VUKO.
“It is really important for community members to participate in the census and correctly indicate their home language. The interest and scope of a specific language is determined by the census. Census information therefore impacts on language policy in departments and institutions – wrong information will impact directly on a language group and possible litigation when discrimination takes place. It is in the interest of literacy and education to ensure children access to mother-language education for as long as possible and accurate census information will provide essential support for any claims in this regard,” says Alana Bailey, Head of Cultural Affairs at AfriForum.
“We call on all amaNdebele and members of other cultural and traditional communities to join us in this quest for a non-racial future where culture and language are properly recognised,” concludes Mahlangu.