22 March 2019

South Africa: Ramaphosa Honours Sharpeville Dead - and Highlights Keeping Indigenous Languages Alive

analysis

The ANC held a rally in Sharpeville in commemoration of the 1960 Sharpeville massacre on Human Rights Day. President Cyril Ramaphosa spoke about the strides the ANC government had made on human rights since 1994. Outside the venue, ANC members remained hopeful that the president will deliver on his message of renewal.

A large crowd of ANC supporters gathered at the George Thabe Stadium in Sharpeville to hear President Cyril Ramphosa's speech of commemoration for the 69 people who were killed in 1960 during a peaceful march against unjust pass laws.

Speaking inside a large tent, overflowing with ANC members, Ramaphosa spoke of the sacrifices made for freedom during apartheid, but dedicated a large part of his speech to the "promotion of indigenous languages" -- a theme borrowed from the United Nations pronouncement of 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

According to Ramaphosa, the UN theme has "great resonance with South African history" where "languages were used as an instrument to subjugate". And with the victory in 1994, the ANC was able to restore the standing of all indigenous languages, he said.

Ramaphosa said that when former President Nelson Mandela signed the Constitution in Sharpeville, which protects the...

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