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29 January 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Anja Aucamp
Prof Francis Petersen speech
“We can create an institution that operates and lives in the times of embracing and celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence by ensuring that students own their time at university,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

25 January 2019 marked the official welcoming of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) first-year students, as they moved into their respective residences and were warmly welcomed on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. This day also marked the start of the registration process for first-year students.

According to first-year Psychology student Keisha Claasen, who moved into her residence earlier on 25 January, her first experience of the UFS was daunting but exciting, as she had never been in a similar environment. According to Given Gwerera, who dropped his son off at the Karee residence earlier the day, “the UFS is an institution with great culture and an overall good academic record.” He further explained that he trusts his son to make full use of the opportunities presented to him, as he has a cool head on his shoulders.

On the evening of 25 January, an eager group of millennials, joined by their parents, took the first sip from their cup of varsity life as they assembled on the Red Square of the Bloemfontein Campus to meet the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, members of Rectorate, the deans of all faculties, and the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the UFS.

“2019 will be a year of continued change; the UFS is thrilled about the prospect of bringing about opportunities for adaptation and realignment to the future,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

He further explained that the university prides itself in moulding its students into well-rounded individuals who will develop into globally competitive graduates as required in a diversity of landscapes. Prof Petersen urged first-years to remain open to the technological developments that go with globalisation, because of its permanent effects on society today.

First-years were further advised to take advantage of the rich pool of academic research and knowledge that is characteristic of the university and is piloted by UFS scholars, by engaging with and learning from them.

The inspiring night concluded on a colourful note, as the audience enjoyed an artistic laser show in front of the Main Building. Caption:

“UFS academics conduct research that forces the world to take note,” said Prof Francis Petersen at the official first-year welcoming ceremony on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

News Archive

Weideman focuses on misconceptions with regard to survival of Afrikaans
2006-05-19

From the left are Prof Magda Fourie (Vice-Rector: Academic Planning), Prof Gerhardt de Klerk (Dean: Faculty of the Humanities), George Weideman and Prof Bernard  Odendaal (acting head of the UFS  Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, German and French). 
Photo (Stephen Collett):

Weideman focuses on misconceptions with regard to survival of Afrikaans

On the survival of a language a persistent and widespread misconception exists that a “language will survive as long as people speak the language”. This argument ignores the higher functions of a language and leaves no room for the personal and historic meaning of a language, said the writer George Weideman.

He delivered the D.F. Malherbe Memorial Lecture organised by the Department Afrikaans at the University of the Free State (UFS). Dr. Weideman is a retired lecturer and now full-time writer. In his lecture on the writer’s role and responsibility with regard to language, he also focused on the language debate at the University of Stellenbosch (US).

He said the “as-long-as-it-is spoken” misconception ignores the characteristics and growth of literature and other cultural phenomena. Constitutional protection is also not a guarantee. It will not stop a language of being reduced to a colloquial language in which the non-standard form will be elevated to the norm. A language only grows when it standard form is enriched by non-standard forms; not when its standard form withers. The growth or deterioration of a language is seen in the growth or decline in its use in higher functions. The less functions a language has, the smaller its chance to survive.

He said Afrikaans speaking people are credulous and have misplaced trust. It shows in their uncritical attitude with regard to the shifts in university policies, university management and teaching practices. Afrikaners have this credulity perhaps because they were spoilt by white supremacy, or because the political liberation process did not free them from a naïve and slavish trust in government.

If we accept that a university is a kind of barometer for the position of a language, then the institutionalised second placing of Afrikaans at most tertiary institutions is not a good sign for the language, he said.

An additional problem is the multiplying effect with, for instance, education students. If there is no need for Afrikaans in schools, there will also be no  need for Afrikaans at universities, and visa versa.

The tolerance factor of Afrikaans speaking people is for some reasons remarkably high with regard to other languages – and more specifically English. With many Afrikaans speaking people in the post-apartheid era it can be ascribed to their guilt about Afrikaans. With some coloured and mostly black Afrikaans speaking people it can be ascribed to the continued rejection of Afrikaans because of its negative connotation with apartheid – even when Afrikaans is the home language of a large segment of the previously oppressed population.

He said no one disputes the fact that universities play a changing role in a transformed society. The principle of “friendliness” towards other languages does not apply the other way round. It is general knowledge that Afrikaans is, besides isiZulu and isiXhosa, the language most spoken by South Africans.

It is typical of an imperialistic approach that the campaigners for a language will be accused of emotional involvement, of sentimentality, of longing for bygone days, of an unwillingness to focus on the future, he said.

He said whoever ignores the emotional aspect of a language, knows nothing about a language. To ignore the emotional connection with a language, leads to another misconception: That the world will be a better place without conflict if the so-called “small languages” disappear because “nationalism” and “language nationalism” often move closely together. This is one of the main reasons why Afrikaans speaking people are still very passive with regard to the Anglicising process: They are not “immune” to the broad influence that promotes English.

It is left to those who use Afrikaans to fight for the language. This must not take place in isolation. Writers and publishers must find more ways to promote Afrikaans.

Some universities took the road to Anglicision: the US and University of Pretoria need to be referred to, while there is still a future for Afrikaans at the Northwest University and the UFS with its parallel-medium policies. Continued debate is necessary.

It is unpreventable that the protest over what is happening to Afrikaans and the broad Afrikaans speaking community must take on a stronger form, he said.

 

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