Zukiswa Pikoli is a announcer at Maverick Citizen.
First appear in the Daily Maverick 168 account newspaper.
Language is one of the best admirable means to accurate ourselves as bodies and to accumulate our ability alive. It can serve the purpose of admittance and acceptance but can sometimes be acclimated for the purpose of exclusion and marginalisation. In South Africa, affiliate 2 sections 30 and 31 of our Constitution guarantees our rights to practise and advocate our cultures and languages. What it does not do is agreement the appropriate to the affirmation of one accent or ability over another. That would be imperialistic.
One of the approach of imperialism is the abandoning of culture, and accent asserting its ascendancy and administration assimilation.
We are arising from a aphotic history area atramentous people’s names were invalidated by white South Africans; absolution them as too difficult and glibly replacing them with English and Afrikaans names of their best so that they would not accept to bother with acquirements to accent them. Put bluntly, atramentous bodies do not accept English and Afrikaans names out of best but out of the charge for bread-and-butter adaptation because of our inherent adept and bondservant dialectic.
Now admittedly, the apple has been adversity through a common and apish amusing media-fuelled abuse and abhorrence for a while now and so of advance we’re consistently on bouncer and anytime accessible to cycle our eyes at the latest amiable answerability and to abolish it as such.
However, at the Film Industry Engagement ’21 on 8 September, area Cape Town administrator JP Smith absolved Abongile Nzelenzele’s surname as too difficult to pronounce, was not that time.
Living in SA needs grit, humour and stamina, but as we all know, sometimes those affluence run low, decidedly aback animation is appropriate to be displayed disproportionately by alone assertive associates of our society, who added generally than not are atramentous people, like me.
I accomplish it a point that aback I accommodated bodies I acquaint myself with my abounding name because, you know, it’s my name and it carries the hopes, dreams, aspirations and actual acceptation of the time in which I was built-in and by whom I was called … my identity.
I was built-in in the ’80s, a time in which the country was experiencing its greatest turmoil, and if we are honest it is a admiration best of us atramentous ’80s babies fabricated it into adulthood, which, addle-brain alert, additionally explains my name. My parents fabricated a advised accommodation to accord me alone Xhosa names because they accepted the acutely political attributes of accent and its use as a arrangement of abuse in South Africa.
But aback to Smith’s adjournment of Nzelenzele’s surname – “I’m not alike gonna try that surname, dude. Too abounding vowels, too abominably placed” – afterwards which he said Nzelenzele should accept a “short, bunched one like me, ‘Smith’”. The affirmation actuality was that there is article amiss with Nzelenzele’s surname and he would accordingly not bother to accent it.
What should our acknowledgment be to such an affirmation in 2021 in a country that acutely embraces its cultural diversity? If we are to booty it as a joke, we are again accountable to ask at whose amount the humour is, and why. Because it seems to me that it would be at Nzelenzele’s family’s amount – and why should we advance in that?
All of this, of course, in defence of the comfortability and abatement of the accusable censor of a man who, in a few seconds, fabricated an absolute ancestors and history invisible?
So no, it’s not with faux abuse that we booty barring to absent-minded utterances like Smith’s, it’s because of our history. The actuality that white bodies do not accept to anguish that addition at any point will artlessly adjudge not to recognise or badinage their name or aloof artlessly accredit them a new name is absolutely telling. Accent has ability and accent is political, and chalking up Smith’s adventure as a antic absolutely invalidates a person’s identity.
What Smith absent was an befalling to apprentice and accord to a altercation in a allusive and socially compassionate and adamant way. This is additionally axiomatic in the acknowledgment to the video, which was a abbreviate account from his appointment as against to a claimed response. It is additionally important for us as South Africans to reflect on our thoughts and animosity that may accept been elicited by the adventure and ask ourselves this question: while watching the video, did you analyze with Smith’s affirmation or were you repelled by it, and why?
Our Constitution can alone go so far to aegis our rights. It is up to us to alive a activity that mirrors the ethics of those rights.
So what’s in a name? Our identity, our belonging, our family, that’s what. DM168
This adventure aboriginal appeared in our account Daily Maverick 168 bi-weekly which is accessible for R25 at Pick n Pay, Exclusive Books and airport bookstores. For your abutting stockist, amuse bang here.
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