The Foundation for Empowerment through Afrikaans (SBA) was honoured this past weekend with the prestigious Neville Alexander Award for the best contribution to the promotion of multilingualism during the Western Cape Government’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport’s annual cultural awards.
The SBA has a mandate to serve all users of Afrikaans, which of course leads to all three official Western Cape languages being incorporated into SBA projects. SBA chairperson, Dr Marlene le Roux, agrees: “The SBA projects are designed to help nation-building through Afrikaans and built-in multilingualism is an important component of it.”
Instead of bringing about a separation, the SBA believes that language unites. It is precisely the organization’s constant pursuit of a multilingual community that has made them walk away with the honors in this category.
Initiatives such as a unique multilingual job search guide for those entering the labor market, an Afrikaans-isiXhosa coloring storybook and distribution of additional learning material within a multilingual context are just some of the projects that have been recognized with the awarding of this prize.
The SBA’s activities among local communities with a view to preserving and celebrating our diverse language identity and origins have also made a great impression. The SBA’s story projects, which have been trying since 2016 to capture the unique stories of specifically older people in remote regions across the diverse landscape of the Western Cape through enrichment, enrich young and old across language boundaries. Also the Afrikaans Sing! in Women’s Voices Choir Festival at Artscape on Women’s Day 2017 is a further project that has been seen as a significant contribution to multilingualism and language diversity within the Western Cape context. The celebration of the inclusivity of Afrikaans within a multilingual society was certainly one of the great highlights of this event and a real contribution to nation building.
The SBA believes that the work done through its projects contributes to the diverse, inclusive image of Afrikaans and consequently plays a positive role in language development to promote the prestige that Afrikaans enjoys across all borders.
Dr Niel le Roux, SBA head, received the award on behalf of the SBA: “It is especially an honor that the SBA specifically received the award in the International Year of Indigenous Languages. We are proud of the SBA’s Afrikaans and isiXhosa joint publications, letters and events through which we enjoy and respect these official languages of the Western Cape. ”