Learning isiXhosa

This is officially my first post, how exciting!

As a white female living in Cape Town, one of the most segregated cities in my county, I’ve really been challenged to think about issues like white privilege, generational wealth and social restitution. These aren’t easy topics to engage with and I found that just talking to people similar to me gave me quite a biased point of view and an incomplete picture. It was only once I started engaging with people different from me and learned how to listen to what they had to say that made all the difference. I learned how to empathise, thus recognising the injustices still faced by people of colour in our country. It breaks my heart that racism is so deeply entrenched into our society that we fail to even recognise it’s ugliness.

There are no easy answers or solutions to the problems in South Africa, but it’s important to recognise that every individual has a part to play, no matter how small. There are many practical things one can do. A simple smile, or “how are you doing?” can go a long way. It’s all about being intentional about sewing into someone’s life that is different to yours and realising that they can sew into your life too. There is so much depth and beauty in African cultures that is undiscovered!

Nelson Mandela gave some wonderful advice:

“Without language, one cannot talk to people and understand them; one cannot share their hopes and aspirations, grasp their history, appreciate their poetry, or savor their songs.”

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

Because I live in Cape Town, a place where many people speak Xhosa, I have decided to learn it. I don’t have very strong linguistic skills but part of that is my fear of embarrassing myself or offending someone. I found this great resource online, called uBuntu Bridge, that has a free online isiXhosa course. You sign up, and you’ll get emailed a video session every two days. I have done the intro and first lesson and they are short, easy to follow and fun! And because it’s free, there is no excuse not to do it. I’ll do another post once I’ve finished the course to let you know how it went.

So let’s celebrate our diversity and do something out of our comfort zone! Make a new friend, learn a new language or go somewhere you wouldn’t normally go. Let me know your thoughts, I’d love to hear from you 🙂
Enkosi kakulu

Leave a Reply