Die troebel toekoms van die Afrikaners en Afrikaans

Giliomee, Herman (2014-12)

CITATION: Giliomee, H. 2014. Die troebel toekoms van die Afrikaners en Afrikaans. Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe, 54(4):571-595.

The original publication is available at http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_issuetoc&pid=0041-475120140004&lng=en&nrm=iso

Article

Die opkoms van die Afrikaners as ’n verpolitiseerde etniese groep, wat onder die Nasionale Party in beheer van die staat was, en van Afrikaans as amptelike taal, was een van die belangrikste politieke ontwikkelings in die twintigste eeu. Gedurende die 1970’s het die NP-regering onder toenemende druk gekom en in 1994 het dit die mag aan die African National Congress oorgedra. Oor die daaropvolgende twintig jaar is die staatsdiens radikaal getransformeer, en het Engels die de facto openbare taal geword. Afrikaners moes nie slegs leer om sonder poltieke mag klaar te kom nie, maar moes ook worstel met ’n krimpende demografiese basis. Afrikaans-medium skole en universiteite moes nou groot getalle opneem wat verkies het om hul onderrig in Engels te ontvang. ’n Geleentheid wat in 2001 opgeduik het om die posisie van Afrikaans in twee universiteite te beveilig, is verspeel. Wit mense in die boonste range van die arbeidsmark het op groot skaal die openbare sektor en groot korporasies verlaat en hulle tot selfindiensname gewend. In die laer range van die arbeidsmark het die oorgrote meerderheid wit mense werk gekry, maar dikwels onder die tradisionele vlak van wit lewensbestaan. Meer as die helfte van die Demokratiese Alliansie se ondersteuning is Afrikaanssprekendes. Die party se poging om swart steun te wen, maak dit egter huiwerig om hom uit te spreek teen die afskaling van Afrikaans of transformasie in die werkplek. Afrikaans het gefloreer veral op kultuur- of woordfeeste, in die publikasie van fiksie en op KykNet. Dit verloor egter ernstig grond op universiteitsvlak as gevolg van die onwilligheid van senior akademici, universiteitsbesture en universiteitsrade om vir die taal op te staan. Dit is nie meer vergesog om die moontlikheid te voorsien dat die Afrikaners as etniese groep en Afrikaans oor die medium termyn as openbare taal kan verdwyn nie.

The rise of the Afrikaners as a politicised ethnic group that captured the state, under the leadership of the National Party, and of Afrikaans as a public language was one of the most prominent features of twentieth century South African history. During the 1970s NP rule started to come under severe pressure as a result of its apartheid policy and it handed over power in 1994. Over the next twenty years the civil service was radically transformed, English became the de facto official language. Afrikaners not only had to deal with the sudden loss of state power but a declining demograpic base. Afrikaans-medium secondary schools and universities had to admit large numbers who preferred to receive their instruction in English. An opportunity in 2001 to safeguard Afrikaans at two universities was squandered. In technical and educational colleges the state simply phased out Afrikaans instruction . Whites in the upper echelons became largely selfemployed, while those in the lower echelons managed to find a job but not necessarily at the level required for the traditional “white” standard of living. Afrikaans-speakers represent more than half of the Democratic Alliance’s support base, but the party’s efforts to capture the black vote made it unwilling to speak up on Afrikaans as a public language or aggressive affirmative action in the public sector and large corporations. While Afrikaans has flourished in the cultural sphere, particularly at festivals, the publication of fiction, and in pay television channels, it is losing ground steadily at university level in face of the cultural totalitarianism of the ruling party and the failure of senior academics, administrators and university coucils to back up the language. The demise of both Afrikaans as public language and the Afrikaners as an ethnic group has become a real possibilty over the medium term.

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