Minister Pallo Jordan Launched a Campaign to Promote Indigenous African Languages through Literature

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05 Jun 2007

Arts & Culture Minister, Dr. Z. Pallo Jordan launched the biggest and most ambitious programme to promote indigenous African language through literature at the Cape Town International Book Fair on Sunday night.
More than 300 people, including publishers, printers, academics, writers and other guests applauded the invitation to writers to promote and preserve indigenous languages through writing.
This was at the re-launch of the South African Book Development Council, a body that provides for all stakeholders in the publishing sector, which took place at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town.
“Let the word go out to all who write, if you want to write or think you can write, this is an open invitation to you. We want to see your works in print.
“Let today be the commencement of a movement to enrich and nurture a truly South African literary tradition,” said Minister Jordan.
He has committed the Government, through the Department of Arts & Culture, to play a leading role to cultivating collaboration with the private sector to promote a culture of reading and writing in indigenous languages.
“To stimulate and spur on the culture of reading, I have instituted a number of literary prizes.
“We have a prize for original work in the indigenous languages. This prize shall be given a name so as to lend it prestige and give it an identity,” said Minister Jordan.
He also announced a prize for new work in all the nine indigenous languages.
“We hope this will encourage the many talented and gifted young writers out their to set out their hopes, dreams and ideals in the languages the speak at home,” said Jordan.
Significantly, the will also be a prize for literature in translation from anyone of South Africa’s official languages to another.
Although no details are available yet, Minister Jordan has thrown the challenge to the book sector itself to implement this campaign to promote the indigenous language literature.
“The Department does not have the capacity to manage all these on its own. It is for this reason that we rely on the support and commitment of our tertiary institutions and that of our writers themselves to provide the panes of judges and readers who will evaluate the works and award the prizes,” said Minister Jordan.
This is the most significant public and private sector to promote indigenous literature.
“There is much more of crucial, social significance to storytelling than mere entertainment.
“Reading, writing and books as literary and cultural artefacts have become an essential part of our heritage.
“That makes it imperative for government, non-governmental organizations and the private sector to work together in partnerships tht will create greater access to reading materials for more of our people.
“The importance of cultural expression, the full creative potential of the reading, writing and publishing sector will only be realized when all the diverse people of our country and the region have the reasonable access to the means to write, to read and to be published.
Minister Jordan has singled out the publishing industry to make this initiative come into life.
“This imposes an extremely serious obligation on our publishers,” said Minister Jordan.
“The greater availability and promotion of literature should contribute to nation-building and the furtherance of the African Renaissance.
“It should raise awareness of the works of quality that have been produced over the years in previously marginalized languages, not only among those fortunate enough to have been exposed to the literature of their own culture, but among all South Africans.
“The possibility of exploring and expressing the entire spectrum of human experience in indigenous African literature can only enrich our cultural life.
“This launch should be the starting point of a sustained campaign to actively promote literature by inspiring a culture of reading among all our people. All this we can do by widening the access our people have to literature and by making them aware of literature and its great virtues,” said Minister Jordan.

For further details, call Sandile Memela, Spokesperson at 082 800 3750 or Premi Appalraju, Media Liaison Officer, at 082 903 6778