Language and culture activist Mr Sandile Masondo.

Language and Culture activist Mr Sandile Masondo has completed a walk around KwaZulu-Natal to highlight the neglected issue of respect and equality for South Africa’s vernacular languages, including isiZulu.

UKZN’s Head of the Discipline of African Languages, Professor Noleen Turner, and staff from the Discipline, backed Masondo in his venture. 

Turner said: ‘Sandile has gone through a lot to do something he is passionate about and that is why he received our support. He spent R35 000 of his own money on the project and walked with swollen and blistered feet through cold and rain. You have to have passion to do that.’

UKZN isiZulu Lecturer Ms Gugu Mkhize walked part of the journey with him from Stanger to Mandini.

 ‘The walk was a long, tiring one but it felt good to show my support to Sandile. It’s really great to see someone so passionate about African Languages,’ she said.

Masondo’s experience at school and his subsequent exclusion from entry to university due to his lack of skills in English inspired this particular crusade to highlight the problems of first language isiZulu speakers in KwaZulu-Natal.

He recently climbed Mt Kilimanjaro to publicise the plight of South Africa’s rhinos and his latest venture was undertaken to draw public attention to the largely neglected issue of language oppression still affecting the lives of many South Africans today. 

Masondo interacted with citizens in the street as well as local municipal councillors and the media to generate dialogue around the difficulties experienced by the overwhelming majority of South Africans today who still have to navigate public processes and education systems in second or third languages they do not fully understand. 

Using stories of his own life experiences to emphasise this unspoken societal problem, Masondo aimed to inspire change that would dramatically enhance the quality of life for first language speakers of indigenous languages in South Africa.