28 August 2012

South Africa: Tributes Pour in for Dr Alexander

Pretoria — Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande has expressed his deepest condolences on the death of internationally acclaimed linguist, academic and struggle veteran, Dr Neville Alexander.

He described his passing on as a great loss to the intellectual community.

Alexander passed away on Monday at his home in Grassy Park after a period of ill-health.

"I had a lot of respect for Neville, for his contribution in the struggle for liberation - even though we come from two different left traditions, and we often disagreed on many things, I deeply respected him as a committed socialist intellectual and activist," Nzimande said.

Nzimande shared with Dr Alexander a similar passion on the issue of language and the need to develop African languages as a critical dimension of the liberation and social emancipation of the majority of South Africans.

In 2011, the minister hosted a roundtable that interrogated the state of African languages in universities, which was attended by representatives from the public higher education institutions, civil society and statutory bodies concerned with language development in the country.

Nzimande said he admired Dr Alexander for having distinguished himself as an academic of note well beyond the age of 60, which exemplified the necessity for elder academics to continue playing a role, particularly in nurturing younger scholars.

"It is an unfortunate coincidence that he passes on at a time when neo-liberalism is in deep ideological crisis, a moment which is fertile for the emergence of better and more humane ideas," said Nzimande.

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