International Mother Tongue Day Celebrating the role of indigenous languages in shaping cultural identity and heritage

hosted at the Iziko South African Museum

QHūbaisi xgûsi gobab di tsēs

Internasionale Moedertaaldagviering

Umbhiyozo woSuku IoLwimi IweeNkobe kwiHlabathi

Siku ya kimitaifa kusheherekea lugha ya mama


On 21 February 2020, under the UNESCO theme: Indigenous languages matter for development, peacebuilding and reconciliation the following institutions: Iziko Museums of South Africa, University of the Western Cape, The Pan South African Language Board, Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Western Cape Language Committee, SupuSupu Khoi Language Project and Swahili Language Board will jointly host a multifaceted International Mother Language Day celebration at the University of the Western Cape.  On Saturday, 22 February there will be an interactive workshop hosted at Iziko South African Museum at 11:00a.m.


These public engagements will be preceded by the Iziko Mobile Museum Outreach story reading sessions that will take place on 19 February in Khayelitsha.  International Mother Language day is a UNESCO initiative that is celebrated every year on 21st February. The founding purpose of this global initiative is to promote multilingualism and multiculturalism, encourage and create awareness of the usage and preservation of our rich and diverse linguistic and cultural heritage across the world.


These engagements draw their inspiration from Nelson Mandela’s observation that, “without language, one cannot talk to people and understand them; one cannot share their hopes and aspirations, grasp their history, appreciate their poetry, or savour their songs.” The discussions will bring together linguists, writers, poets, artists, researchers, scholars, historians, heritage practitioners, cultural activists, policy makers, traditional leaders and communities into a space of dialogue to talk about the importance of our linguistic heritage in nation building and social cohesion. We also hope that this conversation will help us with the ‘recognition of multilingualism as a resource to maximize collaborative partnerships in nation building, economic development and social cohesion’


For any further information please contact: Dr Sebolelo Mokapela at or 021 959 3915, and Mr Wandile Kasibe at or 021 4813804




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