Aww, masekin! Afrikaans Officially 100 and ‘everyone welcome here’

Henry

“Brasses, bras and brothers. Sisi and sister. Stand closer, stand closer. Make a plan or do what you have to. Everyone is invited. You, you and you. It doesn’t matter which room your Afrikaans lives in, as long as your heart beats for the most beautiful, wonderfully sweet language.”

With these words, everyone who is passionate about Afrikaans, speaks the language with pride and chooses to help preserve it for future generations, is invited to celebrate this language’s centenary with the Afrikaans 100 campaign.

Afrikaans’ 100th year as an official national language will be commemorated on 8 May 2025, and in the run-up to the celebration of this milestone, the Afrikaans Official 100 campaign was launched.

“Afrikaans as a language is a house with many rooms, and it is precisely that diversity and strength that will be celebrated. This campaign opens the door wide so that everyone feels welcome in the big family of Afrikaans,” says Giep van Zyl, national coordinator of Afrikaans Official 100. Van Zyl is assisted by René Arendse as national deputy coordinator of the campaign.

Although Afrikaans is well over a hundred years old, it only became one of South Africa’s two official languages ​​alongside English on 8 May 1925.

“This date will be remembered and commemorated as one of the milestones in the history of the relatively young African language,” says Michael Jonas, director of the Afrikaans Language Museum and Monument.

“However, the question is for whom and what? Afrikaans’ official centenary celebrations therefore provide the opportunity and platform to rediscover the diverse origins and roots of this African language. It also creates an opportunity to rethink the past, present and future.”

According to Jonas, recognition can also be given on a holistic level to the development of Afrikaans as a spoken language. Necessary discussions about points of concern and the way forward are also envisaged.

“We must come together as a language community and have a dialogue about prevailing questions and issues and the many uncomfortable questions that keep cropping up. Furthermore, the celebrations offer a chance to talk about the repositioning of Afrikaans, as an indigenous language within an innovative, modern, multilingual African context.”

The colorful history of Afrikaans stretches far. It was already recorded in 1671 that the Dutch spoken in the Cape no longer sounded like the language in the country of origin. The earliest Afrikaans-Dutch to come from the mouths of the Khoi was recorded in the 1700s, and the first writings in Afrikaans were religious instruction written by slave children in Arabic letters in 1807.

Over the years, Afrikaans’ footprints have spread widely. From academia to literature, from court to church, from entertainment to science. As one of the youngest languages ​​in the world, Afrikaans has also shown that it is one of the most dynamic languages. This language is being developed daily, not only in vocabulary, but also in the number of people who speak it.

Afrikaans, which found a foothold at the southern tip of Africa and took root like a giant cream tart tree, grew from a kitchen language to the third largest language spoken in South Africa today. According to the 2022 census, Afrikaans has more than 6.5 million native speakers.

According to Van Zyl, one of the goals of the Afrikaans Official 100 campaign is to open up conversations between the different language communities.

“This is in line with the vision to pursue reconciliation, veneration and a celebration of linguistic diversity. With this, we hope to unite a diverse community of people who love Afrikaans in all its varieties, recognize the entire past and together take ownership of the future.

“It will be an inclusive festival year that offers all Afrikaans speakers an equal chance to become part of the festival. For Afrikaans Official 100, each speaker’s role in the survival of Afrikaans is important, and that is why we celebrate it,” says Giep van Zyl, national coordinator of the campaign.

From now until May 8, 2025, there are several projects with collaborators and partners to celebrate this great milestone. These include school competitions, entrepreneurial projects, new story books and competitions for cooking and songwriting.

The most important thing of all is that everyone’s Afrikaans will be celebrated, whether it is Standard Afrikaans, Cape Afrikaans, Gariep Afrikaans or Afrikaans north of the Orange River.

Individuals, initiatives or organizations that want to get involved in the campaign can consult the Afrikaans Amptelik 100 website for more details. Information about, among other things, the project’s mission and vision, signing of the manifesto and details about partners who have already signed the manifesto and thus given their support, are also available on the website. Send any inquiries by email to info@afrikaans100.org.

  • Read all previous articles about Afrikaans Amptelik 100 here on RNews.