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PanSALB Awards for Deaf Awareness

3 March 2017

Sign language interpreter, Natasha Parkins-Maliko and well known Deaf activist, Nenio Mbazima, recently got recognised for their efforts in South African Sign Language (SASL) advocacy at an event hosted by the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) in Cape Town.

The PanSALB event capped the Language Activism month campaign aimed at encouraging South Africans to speak and live their languages to create a more multilingual society.

Nenio has been instrumental in raising sign language usage awareness through a video platform on Whatsapp called Deafinition and using interactive videos to teach basic sign language communication. He is also an accomplished author and a film maker.

Natasha is an SASL lecturer at Wits University as well as the Africa Regional Representative for WASLI – World Alliance of Sign Language Interpreters.

The PanSALB campaign strongly emphasized on the need for sustainable linguistic, cultural diversity and multilingualism. Great emphasis was put on the use of all official languages and other ethnic languages as enshrined in the Constitution.

“Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing humanity’s tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education, but also to develop full awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding tolerance and dialogue,” said PanSALB CEO,  Dr Rakwena Mpho Monareng.

Major efforts to encourage and advocate for multilingualism worldwide is to have these campaigns that usually target all National Government Departments of the Republic in order to monitor and investigate the observance of the constitutional provisions regarding the use of languages and the provisions of the Use of Official Languages Act 12 of 2012 (The Languages Act).

This initiative seeks to acknowledge the importance of preserving African languages while promoting a multilingual society. It is also acknowledged that language is an important opium of culture. This is why PanSALB organised the month-long campaign encouraging all to not just speak their mother tongues, but live the languages.

PanSALB has taken great strides in taking action to inspire language change matters and preserve multilingualism, they distributed dictionaries to schools, commemorates international dictionary day and also observes the translation day among many important days in the linguistic calendar.

The relationship between language and culture is deeply rooted and as Language is used to maintain and convey culture and cultural ties and as Ludwig Wittgenstein says´ “The limits of my language means the limits of my world.”

Story by Tonderai Mapanga

Photo Credits: Nenio’s Photo by Charles Nyakurwa

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