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Language and (de)colonisation in Africa was recently discussed at a two-day workshop, which Nelson Mandela University hosted in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Social Anthropology (Halle/Saale) in Germany.

Applied Language Studies’ Dr Mariana Kriel was the organiser together with Jacqueline Knörr of the Institute, with 18 invited speakers – mainly anthropologists and linguists, attended the workshop.

Mandela University’s Executive Dean of Arts Prof Rose Boswell presented a paper on the role of Kreol in Mauritius, with similar presentations focusing on the use of Krio in Sierra Leone (David O’Kane, University of Durham/MPI), the Creole society of Guinea-Bissau (Wilson Trajano Filho, University of Brasília/MPI) and Bissau-Guineans in Ziguinchor (Jonas Klee, MPI).

Francis Njubi Nesbitt (San Diego State University) talked about Swahili diffusion and identity in East Africa, while the linguistic landscape of postcolonial Cameroon was the topic of Martin Pütz’s paper (University of Koblenz-Landau).

In his presentation, Mandela University’s School for Language, Media and Communication Director Prof Marius Crous, looked at the discourse of homophobia in Africa.

Day two of the workshop saw the focus shift to South Africa. Language and the decolonisation of higher education emerged as a central theme, with Bassey Antia and Charlyn Dyers (University of the Western Cape), Lloyd Hill (Stellenbosch University), Chanel van der Merwe (Nelson Mandela University) and Kees van der Waal (Stellenbosch University) reflecting on various aspects of the process.

Concentrating specifically on the decolonisation and transformation of linguistics as a field of study, Kristina Riedel (University of the Free State) and Mark de Vos (Rhodes University) took stock and charted the way forward.

The workshop concluded with a session themed “Decolonising Afrikaans”. It was dedicated to the memory of one of the major historiographers of the language, Christo van Rensburg, who passed away recently. Ian Kotzé (North-West University), Mariana Kriel and Luan Staphorst (Nelson Mandela University) presented on the topic.

The workshop included a book launch held at the South End Museum. Edited by Jacqueline Knörr and Wilson Trajano Filho and published by Brill (Leiden) earlier this year, the book is titled Creolization and Pidginization in Contexts of Postcolonial Diversity: Language, Culture, Identity.

Talking at the launch, Jacqueline Knörr explained how the various chapters conceptualise and investigate creolisation and pidginisation “as specific social processes in the course of which new common languages, socio-cultural practices and identifications are developed in contexts of postcolonial diversity shaped by distinct social, historical and local conditions”. Dr Kriel is one of the contributors.

Contact information
Ms Elma de Koker
Internal Communication Practitioner
Tel: 041-504 2160