Culture, language and niche publications in South Africa

Pedro Diederichs


When speaking about culture in South Africa, we as South Africans tend to emphasise the wide variety of peoples that make up our population. We like to point out how different we are, but at the same time how we accept that we are all South Africans. And sooner or later we go on a bit about the Rainbow Nation and how successfully we integrated. We usually end discussions on this topic with how we find unity in our variety: as if this is a great achievement and unique to South Africa alone. But let us remember that we are not that unusual.
If we look at languages as one of the integral parts of any nation’s culture, our 11 official languages are not doing too well when it comes to creating unity amongst us. Especially as one of them, Afrikaans, is branded as the language of the oppressor, thereby arousing emotions of hate and pride in different sections of the population. As a compromise, we have opted for English as the country’s lingua franca to bridge this problem, which is strange, indeed, from a cultural viewpoint as English was the language of the oppressor of all South Africans in colonial times.

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