25 June 2019

South Africa: People Expected Too Much of Me - Khoisan Praise Singer

Khoisan activist Bradley van Sitters is not deterred by the comments regarding his praise-singing at the 2019 State of the Nation Address last week.

He is even more determined to make the Khoekhoegowab language known.

Van Sitters was initially lauded when he became the first imbongi to use the language but then criticised on social media, with some saying his performance did not make sense.

On Monday, he told News24 he felt it was long overdue for Parliament to have a Khoisan praise singer.

"Twenty-five years into democracy ... this should have happened in the time of Mandela already," he said.

"We should have had the opportunity to hear the Khoekhoegowab language spoken in Parliament in our democracy," he added.

"None of the Khoi and San languages are official. These are languages living under the sun in South Africa ... but not even one of them is official."

Van Sitters has urged the government to do something to safeguard the heritage.

"We want an environment where children have the opportunity to learn the languages," he said.

Van Sitters is a member of the Aboriginal/Xarra Restorative Justice Forum's language commission at UCT.

He currently co-facilitates the Khoekhoegowab language course and has taught weekend classes in communities across the city.

"We need to go to the grassroot level. We need to train trainers," he said.

KhoeKhoegowab was the original language spoken by the first inhabitants of the Cape and is the most populous and widespread of the Khoisan languages.

Today, there are 2 000 speakers of the language in the Northern and Western Cape, 150 000 speakers in Namibia and only 200 in Botswana, according to the Western Cape cultural affairs department.

"I'm definitely not the best speaker, best linguist ... but I have great passion within me."


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