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The 2nd Annual Indigenous Language Champ Awards celebrated South Africa’s linguistic diversity by honouring exceptional learners and educators in Xitsonga and Tshivenda, promoting indigenous languages, and enhancing literacy.


South Africa (28 June 2024) – Representation is a cornerstone of cultural identity, especially when it comes to language. In a country as diverse as South Africa, language is more than just a means of communication; it is a vital expression of heritage and history.

The 2nd Annual Indigenous Language Champ Awards (ILCA) stands as a shining example of the power of language representation, honouring and celebrating the richness of South Africa’s linguistic landscape.

South Africa is home to an impressive array of languages. With at least thirty-five languages spoken, the country boasts twelve official languages: Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, South African Sign Language, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu, and English. While English is often the primary language in parliamentary and state discourse, all official languages hold equal legal status. Additionally, South African Sign Language was recently recognised as the twelfth official language, further emphasising the importance of linguistic diversity.

The linguistic diversity extends beyond the official languages, encompassing numerous unofficial and marginalised languages. These include some of Southern Africa’s oldest languages, such as Khoekhoegowab, !Orakobab, Xirikobab, and many others. These languages, though less commonly spoken, are protected under the Constitution of South Africa, highlighting the nation’s commitment to preserving its rich linguistic heritage.

In this spirit, the Annual Indigenous Language Champ Awards, proudly sponsored by Old Mutual, aims to honour Indigenous languages, promote literature, and recognise linguistic diversity.

Held on 16 and 17 June 2024 at the Giyani Community Hall in Limpopo, this year’s ILCA expanded its reach to celebrate both Xitsonga and Tshivenda, building on the success of the inaugural event in 2023.

South Africa Celebrates Indigenous Languages at 2nd Annual Champ Awards
Photo Cred: Old Mutual | Supplied

Over 500 learners from 20 schools in the Collins Chabane Local Municipality participated in various categories, showcasing their talents and dedication to their home languages. Awards were given for Xitsonga Reading Champ of the Year, Poetry & Storyteller of the Year (Xitsonga), Spelling Bee Champ of the Year (Xitsonga), and top-performing learners and educators in both Xitsonga and Tshivenda home languages.

The initiative recognises and celebrates the exceptional contributions of learners and educators who are passionate about preserving, interpreting, and promoting their rich cultural heritage and languages.

Old Mutual’s commitment to championing the use of home languages and promoting bilingualism and multilingualism in education is evident in their support for ILCA. Their focus on enhancing literacy and numeracy among foundation phase learners by teaching and learning in African languages is a testament to their dedication to fostering a love for indigenous languages.

Adding to the celebration, on 17 June 2024, 1 Stop Health Consulting conducted a Hygiene Health Campaign, providing free eye screening tests and reading glasses to 80 learners, and distributing brand new school uniforms to 100 learners. This initiative not only supports educational development but also ensures the well-being of the young participants.

“We are excited to see the impact of ILCA grow in the coming years and continue to foster a love for indigenous languages in South Africa,” said Khotso Tsotsotso, Acting Head of the Old Mutual Foundation.

With such dedicated efforts, the future of South Africa’s indigenous languages looks brighter than ever, promising a legacy of cultural richness for generations to come.

South Africa Celebrates Indigenous Languages at 2nd Annual Champ Awards
Photo Cred: Old Mutual | Supplied

Sources: Old Mutual 
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Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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