A recent report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) indicates that African languages on the continent are facing a serious threat of extinction within the next 20 years.
This red flag was also raised by the National Heritage Council CEO Advocate Sonwabile Mancotywa during the Charlotte Mannya-Maxeke Institute Intergenerational Dialogue at Freedom Park in Pretoria.
English, French, Portuguese and German still dominate the languages spoken in Africa.
These languages which were introduced into the continent during colonialism have marginalised the indigenous languages.
That was also the case in South Africa, which before 1994 only recognised English and Afrikaans as official languages.
Mancotywa’s sentiments were echoed by the University of Johannesburg Professor in Historical Studies, Natasha Erlank who called on government to invest in African languages.
Science and Technology Minister Mamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane acknowledged that little attention has been given to indigenous languages.
Kubayi-Ngubane says government is currently working on a programme to preserve and develop indigenous African languages.