I went to a public school in Mdantsane and we spoke our native language, isiXhosa, most of the time because we were all Xhosa people at David Mama high School just like any other school in the township. This was then a very big problem when we had to meet up with pupils from “model C schools’ where we had to speak English. English was not a problem; most of us were top English students where we came from. Being used to speaking English fluently, without having to think which words to use first, was the problem. Our confidence shattered down because we were afraid, intimidated by the use of strong English words. Sometimes it was just the fear that caused our debating teams to lose.
When I went to Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University I had much bigger problems to deal with, but one other problem was having to adapt to this new world of diversity. I felt like a small ant in a world too big for me. Communication was difficult because even though most students were black, we had to speak English because some of them spoke other languages and some of them were fluent in English, we call them ‘coconuts’, you know the coconut fruit is dark on the outside and white on the inside.
I had to find other township students like me who had the same problem.
But that was easy; we shouldn’t be limited by whether we can speak English fluently in order to socialize with people. We are all different but there shouldn’t be barriers to how people of different languages should communicate. What if there were programs where public schools intermingled with ‘model c’ schools to get used to the idea of diversity. We need a free world where race and class are just a nonexistent idea. If we start at the bottom, at a childhood level, we will get a future of not just smart but confident leaders.
How many times did opportunities come but you were afraid to take them on because you thought your English wasn’t good enough? How many times will we let this continue to happen? Let’s join in on the movement to BREAK THE LANGUAGE BARRIERS! Are you in?