27 August 2012
It was with a great sense of loss that we heard of the passing away of Dr Neville Alexander. He occupied a formidable space in South Africa’s intellectual, political and cultural life and he was also an activist of note throughout his life. He was a great proponent of multilingualism in general and especially in education. He had written prolifically on these subjects. He worked very closely with the African Academy of Languages, ACALAN in the past few years.
Even in the last year of his life he actively attended and participated in the public hearings and deliberations in Parliament earlier this year on the use of Official Languages Bill. Much as he would have welcomed the outcome of the Bill which compels National Government Departments and Entities to provide services to South Africans in the language of their choice, he would have impelled us to do even more in further advancing multilingualism.
Dr Neville Alexander raised an integral point about the relationship between language and the economy. He stressed that “Language is built into the economic structures of society”. He continued that “African Languages have potential, they are economically lucrative and to think otherwise is to assume an elitist position”. He was clear in the role of language in upholding human dignity.
He was imprisoned for ten years on Robben Island for his political activism. He continued to play an active role in society. His contributions have been immense.
We convey sincere condolences to the Alexander family, close friends and compatriots.
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