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Professor Gregory Kamwendo and Dr Monica Otu
at the African Languages Colloquium.

Dean and Head of the School of Education, Professor Gregory Kamwendo, and Dr Monica Otu of the School of Social Sciences recently presented their research papers at the African Languages colloquium at UKZN.

Kamwendo’s paper titled: “African Languages, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information: Digging Deep into the 2013 John Dube Memorial Lecture”, focused on the Memorial Lecture’s use of isiZulu highlighting the critical issues related to transformation, freedom of expression and access to information.

Kamwendo said for the first time in the history of the John Dube Lecture series at UKZN, the 2013 edition was delivered in isiZulu.

‘Simultaneous interpretations into English and sign language were provided. The past practice had been to deliver the Lecture in English. The switch to isiZulu can be seen as a language practice that is in line with transformation in the post-apartheid dispensation of freedom and democracy, he said.

Otu’s paper titled: “The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s vision of “African scholarship” and Information Access: The Case of isiZulu as an Indigenous African Language, highlights the importance of isiZulu as a tool of information access. Her study sought to elicit staff and student responses to the issue of African indigenous language use as a new curricular package within UKZN.

‘The incorporation of African indigenous languages into the curriculum of tertiary institutions is an agenda that seeks to redraw the linguistic map of South Africa in ways that would provide opportunities for people to access information in their own language,’ said Otu

‘It is an open secret that language is an important identity marker and central to the expression of lived experiences of people of a particular community. The way people access, understand and utilise information is based on the language in which they are foregrounded.’

Both papers were well-received by the audience with many views, opinions and pertinent questions being raised.