There is a big generational gap between the users of native languages. While the old generation is equipped with a plethora of metaphors, proverbs, and cultural practices many of the youth are left behind. The learning and understanding of English has taken precedence in our education system and for good reason. It is nearly impossible for anyone to attain employment without being able to understand English. This has led to a belief that, by giving up our native languages we will gain some economic advantage. Our countries political past has had a major influence in this belief. We cannot, however undermine the contribution of our native tongues toward not only linguistic diversity, but also knowledge preservation.
Only when more and more people introduce their native tongues to professional industries will the languages start become more important. For example, how does one explain what an app is in Sotho? A question such as this can act as a barrier for young people to see the relevance of their native tongues. It is thus important to extend native languages beyond just culture and use them to describe our modern world. This I believe can be achieved once we bridge the gap between the old and the young as well as the gap between writers and the public.
With a simple experiment Bloemonday illustrated the importance of popular literacy (which refers to when people read newspapers and books regularly and write letters to another as a matter of course). We changed the interface of a cell phone from English to Sotho and asked three young people to complete a simple task. The participants were to firstly write a message, secondly they had to save the message in drafts, and lastly they had to retrieve the message from drafts.
All the photos were taken inside the literature museum in Bloemfontein Free State with permission. The exhibitions inside the museum are donated by various stakeholders.