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Recognise all people as human beings

King Khoisan SA outside the Pretoria Magistrate Court after he was released on a warning on January 13, 2022. King Khoisan and his family has been living on the lawn of the Union Building for over 3 years demanding land ownership, being recognized as the first nation, and official recognition of their language.
King Khoisan SA outside the Pretoria Magistrate Court after he was released on a warning on January 13, 2022. King Khoisan and his family has been living on the lawn of the Union Building for over 3 years demanding land ownership, being recognized as the first nation, and official recognition of their language.
Image: Alet Pretorius

Language often tells us something about the physical environment and culture of the speakers. For example, if there is a fruit that is not familiar to the region, the language will not have a word for it.

Language can also tell us about the attitudes of people. We recognise the power of the link between language and thought when we insult or praise people.

In Sesotho we have different words for different ethnic groups. If you are of our own we call you “motho” (a human), if you are white we call you “lekgoa”. In effect, we only recognise ourselves as humans and not those who are different; they are not humans – according to us.

Language has the ability to make us believe what we speak. Maybe we will start to feel differently about those we do not call human if we start to acknowledge them as human.

Boitumelo Olivier, Sasolburg


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