The language of the oppressor
Afrikaans is actually my home language, although I spoke English before I could speak Afrikaans. It sometimes irks me when people refer to Afrikaans as the language of the oppressor. Something which is a little recognised fact is that Afrikaans, one of the youngest languages (if not the youngest) in the world, has succeeded in creating a language which has given the world great poetry, prose and it developed as a langauge of science, of the same quality, depth, calibre and with the same depth of philosophy and imagery as any of the great world literatures. The problem is, considering that relatively few people speak Afrikaans, the literature does not get the recognition it deserves. This, however, is not limited to Afrikaans literature, though. It is also true of all languages that are territorially isolated, or have a small number of speakers.
I started life as a student of classical languages (Latin and Attic Greek), but ended up in post graduate English studies. I can also read Dutch, German, French, Spanish and Italian. The upshot of this is that I have actually read some of the greatest literature in the world in the original form: Goethe, Cicero, Baudelaire, Aristophanes, Garcia Lorca, Caesar, Susskind, Dante, Herodotus, Shakespeare, Eliot, Joyce, Hugo etc. You name them, chances are I have read them. I am quite happy that I can responsibly say that the good Afrikaans literature is up there among the best of them. Which again, is also probably true of any number of other languages' literature that I have not read, for the simple reason that I can not read Russian or Mandarin, or a host of other languages - sadly, not even a single one of the ten indigenous languages in my own country.
What I fail to understand, is why the language itself has to be villified as a result of a small minority of people who, for a while, adhered to a stupid, impractical political ideal that was not necessarily the choice of many other white people, and certainly not the choice of the majority of people of South Africa. An interesting fact is that a large number of Afrikaans literary texts were in fact translated into Russian in the 1980s (I know this because I met one of the translators), and I was (I believe reliably) told that the largest university department teaching Afrikaans outside of South Africa at the time was at the University of Moscow under the reign of communism.
The point is, while I care a fig for the ideology of apartheid, and in fact always did, the ideology is not the result of the language called Afrikaans, and neither was the ideology the cause of the language. The two are linked quite by accident - just like Spanish is not a bad language, or Spanish speaking people responsible for the decline of Cuba as a result of the fact that for several decades Cuba had a Spanish speaking dictator. The same comment can probaly be made in respect of any number of countries: Zimbabwe (and its charming madman for a president Mr Robert Mugabe) and the USA (with a brainless, witless and warmongering idiot at the helm at the moment called George W Bush). The German language and the people that speak German can not be held responsible for the attrocities of the Second World War (and I do not believe that the only attrocities committed were committed by Germans only). Logic does not lead me to the inevitable conclusion that all things Zimbabwean or American or German must now be bad. In the case of the USA, the unfortunate truth is that a majority of voters voted Bush into power (if the court is to be believed). I rest my case.