Prolific writer, multilingual scholar and the 2017 Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Senior Research Awardee, Professor Russel Kaschula, recently presented a lecture titled “One Language, One Love, One Humanity”. With over three decades in academia, Prof Kaschula shared the tale of his love for languages through song and images.
In line with Heritage Month in September, the lecture highlighted the importance of creating an inclusive linguistic society. “Language has the power to divide and unite people. And xenophobia in this country is an indication of the former,” Prof Kaschula lamented.
The #ACT, which stands for African Languages for Curriculum Change and Transformation, aims to do stand true to its name. Prof Kaschula believes language is important in the decolonisation conversation. “You can’t have a democracy in a language people don’t understand,” he pointed out.
As Chair of the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) for the Intellectualisation of African Languages, Multilingualism and Education, Kaschula finds his role fulfilling. “The research is snowballing and exciting!” he remarked.
The renowned Professor, who supervised four PhD scholars and two MA students with distinction last year, doesn’t attribute his success to himself. Prof Kaschula believes in collaboration and creating symbiotic relationships with his postgraduate students. The title of the lecture, inspired by Bob Marley’s iconic song, One Love, encouraged the use of multilingualism as a resource for decolonisation. Universities are introducing programmes that promote African languages, which is something worth celebrating. To keep up with the progress of the intellectualisation of African Languages, the National Research Fund (NRF) uses race- and ethnicity-based statistics of language students. Prof Kaschula believes this has the potential to racialise and tribalise African Languages, something the apartheid regime did by isolating African languages in the formal sector.
Kaschula ended the lecture by motivating monolinguals, “If you only speak English, do something about it!”
By Tswelopele Maputla, fourth-year Bachelor of Journalism student
Source Rhodes University