The South African government has dedicated this year’s Human Rights Day commemorations to the promotion of indigenous languages, including sign languages, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.
The president said this when he and other officials observed Human Rights Day to commemorate the 69 Africans shot dead in Sharpeville on 21 March 1960 for protesting against pass laws which forced Africans to carry internal passports to enable them move from one part of the country to another.
The bloody killings by the police of the unarmed protestors outside a police station outside Johannesburg became to be known as the Sharpeville Massacre.
“We want to do so (to promote the languages) because language is a fundamental part in building a human rights culture,” Ramaphosa said.
He said the decision to promote local languages coincides with the United Nations declaration of 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages.
“In according all our languages the respect that they are due, we are affirming the dignity, worthy and humanity of every South African,” Ramaphosa said.
He said Thursday’s commemorations were aimed at highlighting efforts to conserve languages that were in danger of becoming extinct, such as Nama language of the Khoisan people.