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UFS mourns the death of a great linguist and educationalist
2012-08-29

He was one of the founders of the National Liberation Front. He was convicted of conspiracy to commit sabotage in 1964 and was sent to Robben Island for 10 years. During his incarceration, he taught history to fellow prisoners.

According to SA History Online, Alexander wrote of his time in prison: "The 'University of Robben Island' was one of the best universities in the country. It also showed me that you don't need professors.”

He also devoted most of his professional life to defend and preserve multilingualism in the post-apartheid South Africa and has become one of the major advocates of linguistic diversity.

During a recent visit to the UFS where he took part in a Critical Conversation at the Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice, Dr Alexander said that a multilingual state and culture could lead to more tolerance in South Africa.

In a tribute to Dr Alexander, Prof. Jonathan Jansen, UFS Vice-Chancellor and Rector, said Dr Alexander was an incorruptible, a revolutionary who remained true to his core values despite the materialistic excesses of former struggle heroes.

“He taught me many things, one of which was that Afrikaans is and can be a language of liberation and a vehicle for reconciliation. He took his methodology for language learning into the townships, and altered countless lives in the process. South Africa has lost a great scholar, a principled activist, a generous humanitarian and a formidable intellect; the last of the true revolutionaries.”

 

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