The Mandela grandchildren and great grandchildren need to spend some time in a village so that they wake up from their nasal twang slumber— CheriEgrand 🐝 (@ntsikimazwai) April 12, 2018
The accent of the Mandela great-grandchildren has sparked a fiery debate about language, identity, and accents.
Poet Ntsiki Mazwai called out the children and said they must spend some time in the village to get their Xhosa straight.
Eusebius McKaiser engaged callers on the open line about what accent is appropriate or acceptable to society. McKaiser says back in the day, it was a great thing to have an English accent but these days it is considered white cultural appropriation and is, he says, often shunned by the 'woke' generation.
Speaking English to your children at home is a form of child abuse.....you are alienating that child from their own people. Stop it.— CheriEgrand 🐝 (@ntsikimazwai) April 12, 2018
If your child only speaks English is it a problem and why is that so?— Eusebius McKaiser, show host
Callers raised the issue of identity and being multilingual.
Language is a form identity before it becomes a form of communication. You can be authentically Zulu because we cannot take the Zulu part of you but how do you identify with the Zulu nation if you can't speak their language?— Patrick, caller
It is true that people think when children have a certain accent they are more articulate and clever. And I suppose that's why people want their children to go to Model 'C' schools today. Instead, they are robbing them of their cultural identity.— Theke, caller
Some callers expressed how they don't force their children to learn other languages while others talked of how they were rejected by their communities for their English accent.
We try and encourage our daughter to speak Zulu or Tswana but we don't force her. The environment we are living in is an English environment and she's growing in it.— Sam, caller
I lived overseas for quite a long time and when I moved back as a young professional, I was rejected by my own people because of my accent. As far as my career is concerned, funnily enough, my accent has helped me progress because I have confused people and the accent seems to work in my industry.— Linda
People make assumptions on whether you can speak an African language or not based on your English accent. Look at Minister Naledi Pandor being teased about her twang (hong hong). Although she speaks Setswana, she's still teased for twanging. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.— Tshegs (@Tshegs) April 13, 2018
Here are some of the reaction from tweeps
Its wrong in the context of identity, language in itself represent my culture and heritage. How would my children identify with their culture when all they can speak is the colonizers language.— Mthii Funk (@MthiiF) April 13, 2018
It is WRONG, it is ugly... As much as we must speak English well, BUT we must never forget who we are. We also love it when whites speak a bit of IsiZulu/Sotho here and there...then you have a BLACK child who cant speak their language, aybo!— BhampaNawe (@HeIsDean) April 13, 2018
Listen to the full debate here