While it is encouraging to note that there are people like Xolisa Tshongolo who are passionate about the study of Xhosa, there are a few things which I find disquieting in Tshongolo's letter (November 15).
I do not think it is fair to lay the blame of the declining numbers of students taking African languages (isiXhosa and Sesotho) in our case, on some university departments which Tshongolo chooses not to mention by name, while identifying centres of his choice in the same institution.
I think it would be better to look at the bigger picture. Over the past few years, numbers have dropped dramatically in African Languages departments in virtually all universities in South Africa.
As an external examiner at some of our universities, I have noted a discrepancy in the number of universities which are affected by this decline. One would have expected a university like Unisa, for instance, not to be as affected as it is, according to reports in the media. This decline in student numbers is also affecting staff recruitment at many universities.
These are just a few factors which need a balanced and open interrogation, especially through the medium of these languages themselves. …