Vuka, awake! A season of rebirth or new beginnings has arrived. For many people, including myself, it is a season for de-cluttering our emotional, intellectual and physical environment. A season in which we are inspired by nature itself to create space for new ideas, people and things.
As we de-clutter, we ask ourselves a number of critical and reflective questions to rid ourselves and our environment of certain things, while we keep or protect those things that we cherish. The question is: do we ever remember to ask questions that may allow us to value language in the context of our environment? I don’t just mean in terms of using language to send positive vibes in our environment; I mean in terms of truly reclaiming ourselves, and connecting deeply to our environment and heritage!
Indeed, I am well aware of the increasing and commendable efforts by many countries and individuals to protect their environment and heritage. But when it comes to dealing with language, I feel the spirit of lumping together the protection of the environment and heritage is lost.
Otherwise put, although language is central to heritage, I think we have done a poor job in framing its importance within the context of the environment and its protection. As such, I think people still have difficultly in seeing the extend of the overlap between issues of the environment and that of heritage (cultural or otherwise). They fail to see the embeddedness of issues of heritage within the broad set of issues of the environment. Mathematically speaking, they fail to conceptualise heritage issues as but a proper subset of environment issues.
In my mind, without this conceptualisation, being connected to the broad vision of the country, continent or planet would remain a challenge. At the moment, though saving the rhino is as important as saving my Sesotho language, I sometimes forget this truth. While this is an embarrassing admission to make, with the arrival of spring, I hope to wake up permanently from a slumber that sometimes denies me of this truth.
Happy spring to all. May the beauty brought by the season inspire us to spruce up our views on language … to see beyond its functional use … and be moved to find ways in which we (re)enchant its use to (re)connect to the richness of our heritage and the environment as whole!