SAALT | South African Association for Language Teaching

SAALT Newsletter: May Edition

Celebrating Africa's Linguistic Diversity and Unity

Dear SAALT members and Linguistic community,

We are happy to share our May newsletter with you. In this newsletter, we share some information regarding our keynotes as part of our upcoming conference and Dr Connie Makgabo shares her thoughts “What is Africa Day?”

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Let us also cast our gaze forward to the SAALT conference scheduled for 10-12 July at the Breakwater Lodge, Cape Town. Submissions for abstracts have already closed. It is now time to register for the conference.

To register, click here: 

Furthermore, get excited about the Keynotes because the following experts have agreed to be our keynote speakers at the conference:

Prof Theo du Plessis

(University of the Free State)

Prof Rosemary Wildsmith-Cromarty

(North West University)

Prof Russel Kaschula

(University of the Western Cape)

Prof Marivate

(1st CEO of PANSALB - University of Pretoria)

What is Africa Day?

Africa Day, also known as African Liberation Day, commemorates the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which was established in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on May 25, 1963. It is an annual commemoration observed on May 25. In 2002, the OAU was transformed into the African Union (AU), reflecting a renewed commitment to promoting integration and development across Africa. Also, it was aimed at promoting unity and solidarity among African nations. In addition, it advanced the decolonisation and independence movements that were widespread across the continent at the time. This day is significant for honouring the achievements and progress of the African continent. Furthermore, this day is for reflecting on the remaining challenges and reaffirming commitments to unity, peace, and development across Africa (Angelsen, Brown, Loisel, Peskett, Streck, Zarin, 2009). Africa Day now serves as an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the AU in advancing peace, security, democracy, and socio-economic development on the continent. This day is marked by various events and activities organized by governments and communities across Africa and around the world. Annual celebrations of Africa Day worldwide may include music concerts, dance performances, art exhibitions and cultural performances to allow each African nation to share its culture and traditions with pride. Also, some places host public lectures to celebrate African heritage, diversity, and resilience. It is also on this day that influential African leaders and visionaries who contributed in shaping human history, and have fought for peace, democracy and development are celebrated. It is also a time for reflection and dialogue on how to advance the AU’s Agenda 2063. The AU’s Agenda 2063 is a strategic framework for transforming Africa’s future and achieving inclusive and sustainable development for all its people (DeGhetto and Kiggundu,2016). The celebration promotes global understanding and appreciation of African cultures so that even Africa’s global neighbours can understand the unique and diverse cultures. The languages also play a crucial role. The African continent has over 2000 indigenous languages, which makes it home to 1/4 of all languages on earth. Those languages are classified into four essential families: Afro-Asiatic, Nilo-Saharan, Niger-Congo and Khoisan (Heine & Nurse, 2000:1). The South African languages fall under the Niger-Congo, and they are grouped into two prominent families, namely, Nguni (isiZulu, isiXhosa, SiSwati and isiNdebele) and Sotho languages (Setswana, Sepedi and Sesotho) due to their similarities in many of their features. Other languages are Afrikaans, Tshivenda and Xitsonga. Africa Day holds significant importance for languages as it provides an opportunity to celebrate and promote linguistic diversity, multilingualism, and language rights across the African continent. This day celebrates linguistic diversity and recognizes the importance of preserving, promoting, and celebrating the unique languages and cultures of Africa. In South Africa, this milestone was launched by the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, in partnership with Pan South African Language Board(PanSALB) as the International Decade of Indigenous Languages in 2022. Click Here for More Info Africa Day reaffirms the importance of language rights and linguistic equality for all people across the continent. It emphasizes the right of individuals and communities to use, preserve, and develop their own languages. Africa Day highlights the importance of empowering indigenous languages and communities, particularly those whose languages are endangered or marginalized. It promotes efforts to revitalize and promote indigenous languages through language education, literacy programs, and cultural initiatives. Africa Day advocates for multilingual education approaches that recognize and respect the linguistic diversity of students and communities. It encourages the development of language policies and curriculum frameworks that support the use of African languages in education and promote bilingual and multilingual proficiency among students. Africa Day celebrates the role of languages in preserving and transmitting cultural heritage from one generation to the next. It promotes efforts to safeguard and promote indigenous languages as integral parts of African cultural identity since languages are closely tied to cultural identity and heritage, carrying traditional knowledge, beliefs, stories, and practices. By celebrating Africa Day, individuals and communities can honour the continent’s linguistic diversity and cultural heritage, promote cross-cultural understanding and communication, and contribute to the preservation and revitalization of African languages for future generations. On Africa Day, let us use our languages to show pride in our culture and African identity. Let us celebrate and advocate for the promotion and development of our languages, especially the minority languages, which are likely to be endangered. Happy Africa Day to all! Together, let us continue to strive for a better Africa and a brighter future for generations to come.”

Angelsen A, Brown S, Loisel C, Peskett L, Streck C, Zarin D (2009) Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD): an options assessment report. Available at

DeGhetto, K., Gray, J. R., & Kiggundu, M. N. (2016). The African Union’s Agenda 2063: Aspirations, challenges, and opportunities for management research. Africa Journal of Management, 2(1), 93-116.

 Heine, B., & Nurse, D. (Eds.). (2000). African languages: An introduction. Cambridge University Press.

Maathai W (2009) The challenge for Africa. Random House, New York.

To conclude, some noteworthy days that have taken place are World Book Day and Worker’s Day. World Book Day was celebrated on the 23rd of April. How did you celebrate World Book Day? Have a look at some of the free literature websites and applications in light of this day:

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SAAALP conference: University of Pretoria.

Coursework MA Applied Linguistics at the University of Pretoria

Please see the poster for the Coursework MA (Applied Linguistics) for more information on this newly instated degree at the University of Pretoria