Negotiating ironies and paradoxes of mother-tongue education: An introspective and retrospective reflection

  • Nhlanhla Maake


In this article an introspective and retrospective overview of mother-tongue education in South Africa during the Bantu Education era (1955–c1990) is presented within the context of the discourse of learning and teaching language policies of the pre- and post-apartheid era (c1990–2014), with specific reference to literary studies in indigenous languages. It is postulated that language studies during the Bantu Education era were enhanced by extra-curricula media, particularly radio. The article addresses the ironies and paradoxes concomitant to the Bantu Education Act of 1953, postulating that it inadvertently, and by serendipity, advanced the development of indigenous languages to an extent that exceeds implementation of language policies which have been introduced since the advent of a democratic South Africa in 1994. The author’s rationale for adopting an introspective study is based on the dearth of I-narrator and narrator-protagonist ecriture on language learning experiences of that past era, in the midst of a proliferation of empirical works available in this regard. It is also the author’s thesis that the Bantu Education Act was ironically a precursor of language policies adopted by the African post-colonial agenda.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2305-1159
print ISSN: 0257-2117