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Editors: Karsten Legere; Sandra Fitchat
Permanent Secretary Ministry of Culture and Sports, Republic of Mozambique Coordinator SADC Sector of Culture and Information, Maputo, Mozambique
With appreciation I have taken note of the initiative to edit a book on linguistic aspects of the democratisation process in Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries.
I understand that this initiative goes back to the Windhoek Conference of the Linguistics Association for SADC Universities (LASU) in 1998. Those who convened the meeting in the Namibian capital had in mind a crucial development in central and southern Africa when they invited scholars and experts to discuss the theme „Language and Democratisation in the SADC Region“
In fact, the political situation in our Region and in Africa as a whole has changed drastically in recent years. These changes are also felt in the field of language use, where a more liberal approach to the languages spoken by the wo/man in the street seems to be found.
In my own country, Mozambique, I have observed the growing role of languages other than Portuguese as already evidenced in the first multi-party elections in 1994. Similarly, the 1997 Population Census in Mozambique demonstrates in exact figures that the long presence of Portuguese as a former colonial language has not resulted in the marginalisation of other Mozambican languages.
On the contrary, the census gave strong evidence that, in numerical terms, Portuguese as a mother tongue has remained a minority language, and is spoken mainly in urban areas.
It is interesting to note that the present book has succeeded in addressing linguistic issues that pertain to a representative number of SADC countries. It covers Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
This means we still miss contributions dealing with Angola (although there were Angolan participants at the Windhoek LASU Conference), Mauritius (which had no Conference participants), the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Seychelles (the latter having joined SADC more recently).
Despite this fact, the publication contains a wealth of information that is now available to interested readers, particularly students, in the SADC Region and beyond.
The book is highly recommended as a valuable source for anybody who is attracted by the democratic processes going on in the Region and the important role languages are playing - or should be.
PART 1: LANGUAGE AND DEMOCRACY
PART 2: LANGUAGE MAITENANCE, LANGUAGE SHIFT AND LANGUAGE DEATH