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Looks at the aspects of the English language in Namibia before and after independence.

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Namibian English after Apartheid
In this assignment or project, I will look at how the English language have changed or developed
since the apartheid era. The article will be mainly on the book which I will introduced in the next
paragraph of this article. As Namibia is a country with many languages and some of the languages
came to Namibia through the South Africans when they took over from Germany. One such
language which came through the South Africans is Afrikaans and up to date is one of the most
spoken language in Namibia.
The book which I will be looking at in this article is an autobiography by one of the prominent
Music Icon in Namibia. “The Dogg; Untold Story” is a book which basically talks about the Life
of The Dogg as a musician growing up in the apartheid era and it talks more on how the treatment
was and how the education sector was structured back then. Namibia was under South Africa after
the Germans and this has an impact on how many Namibians use English today. During The
Dogg’s childhood and partly his youth he group up in the apartheid regime where black people
were not allowed to have an education.
I chose this book because of the time frame of the events reflected in the book, during this time
knowing certain languages helped one to be regarded for many opportunities. English was not used
widely during this time and for a black people to be able to speak, write and read English meant
that, that particular person is educated. As many people were introduced to the English language
this have brought challenges in how many Namibians up to date use the language to communicate.
In many Namibian societies today you will find out that 90 per cent of the population does not
know how to use the language (English), even though they might have picked up some few words
from other people.
During the time that Namibia was colonized by Germany and when the South African Government
took over, Namibian people lived in poverty and most of them if not all did not have proper
education. Those who attended school went up to standard 7 and they did not go beyond that. Due
to this any many other reasons, Namibians use English in a peculiar way and the way they sound
or use the English language is different from tribe to tribe. It is a lot easy for a Namibian or
someone who has been in Namibia for a very long time to be able to tell the difference been a
Damara and a Wambo when they are using or speaking in English. One would be able to tell from
the way they pronounce some certain words and where they choose to use some of the words.
Many Wamboes have difficulties in the way they pronounce the “L” and the “R”, in many cases
you will find Wamboes putting an “L” where there should be an “R” and vice versa. For example,
they would say “river” instead of “liver” and vice versa. This effect may come because of the way
the adults in particular societies were brought up and how and on what age they started getting
their education. During the colonial times, many blacks were deprived of education and other
important aspects which are pivotal in an individual’s life.
The Dogg; Untold Story took place during the apartheid era as aforementioned, and this means
that life was not at its best for many Namibians. The Dogg (Martin Morocky) was born in Maheba,
Zambia He came to Namibia when he was still a young boy and because he had the passion for
music he paid the price of that when he dropped from university to pursue his dreams of becoming
an artist or a musician. During the Apartheid era, many Namibians wanted to leave the country
because of the political unrest which in Namibia. As much as these people wanted to leave the
country, they could not because it was not easy as is it now to leave a country. Not all country
exits succeed for my family though. Uncle Vilho Kandalipo Kalambi made six attempts to cross
the border into Zambia but failed to make it through the apartheid –minded police roadblocks.”
During the apartheid era many public facilities were not available to the people of Namibia more
especially black Namibians. Schools then were selective who they want to admit to the school and
this mainly depended on the skin color and the language that specific pupil spoke. Many Namibian
kids only attended school up to the end of primary level only, it was at high school where most
problems were encountered when it came to education. In the autobiography The Dogg talks more
about how his youthful years had him changing. As he came from the Northern part of Namibia
(Owambo land) The Dogg experienced a lot of trouble getting a well up high school to continue
with his study. “Most people back then spoke Afrikaans in the city, be it on the streets or on the
sports ground. Even with my friends, Afrikaans was the means of communications.” (p.20). This
proves how widely was used in Namibia during the apartheid era.
Afrikaans in Namibia was once the official language which was believed that it helped everyone
to communicate with each other which is quick the contrary because not all people knew how to
speak Afrikaans back then. As much as they wanted to make Afrikaans the official language in
Namibia, it was going to be hard because of the many languages Namibia have. Afrikaans was the
medium of communication even in classrooms and this affected the Namibian people on how they
use the English like today. In many cases you will find people mixing English and Afrikaans in a
conversation and this is the result of apartheid. For instance; (John will call you neh.) it is very
common in Namibian societies to come across with that slang word which is an Afrikaans word.
A Namibian society before independence consisted with people of the same tribe, this means that
different tribes back then did not interact on a regular basis. This one of the reasons why today we
find Namibians with different English accent but they both grew up in Namibia, it because of the
lack of interaction back then during apartheid era. In the book/autobiography, The Dogg reflects
how the societies were made up and how important is was for one to remain in their specific tribal
group. Back then during those times, Africans parents believed in education and that is why they
took their children to schools. And in the book we see how they regarded education. When The
Dogg dropped out of University to pursue music as a career, his family was mad at him. “Uncle
Vilho was furious with me. I think for a while we were not on speaking terms.” (p.31).
As said before, during apartheid times people were limited to a lot of things and activities to do
and time limit was one of the reasons why black people’s education was not of quality or standard.
It is recorded that black people then were not allowed to be in the streets by 18h00 and this indicates
that they only had the day hours to do their activities. In schools blacks were separated by the
grades they got and most they were separated by race or skin color. Black kids were mainly given
less attention by the school educators and this means that these kids never received proper
education and thus affecting their English usage in some way. Namibians have a tendency of using
some grammatical aspects where they are not supposed to be and this can be said it’s the result of
the education they got when they were still in schools.
The usage of the English language in Namibia basically is the result of the colonization and the
apartheid era. Namibians were mostly taught English by the Germans or the white South Africans
and this combination is the one which made up the way the Namibian generally uses English as a
universal communication tool in Namibia. This has made it possible for Namibians to use English
even though it may not be perfect, but they can get the intended message across.
To support the article above, I have managed to interview a person who lived in Zambia
during the apartheid era and today he is a one of the outspoken Human Rights Activists in
Namibia. His Name is Dr. Raphael Mbala and is currently based in Katima Mulilo, he has
published and number of books which talks about the life of people during the colonial time
and when the South West Africa (SWA) now Namibia was still under the leadership of the
South African government. As he is based in Zambezi the interview was carried out
telephonically and below are his reviews how he can relate with The Dogg’s autobiography.
“During the Colonial times, we had a rough experience in the hands of the Germans, we were
subjected to harsh treatments and poor education,” say Dr. Mbala. This shows us that the aspects
that were highlighted in the autobiography really affected everyone during that time. For him, he
was amongst the lucky ones that managed to get some education and this is where he got his
passion for him to start writing poems and books.
As highlighted in the main article that the people (blacks) back then had limited learning resources
it turned out that most of the lessons which were being offer at Mbala’s school were offered in
Afrikaans. “The tutors knew for sure that the rest of the class did not speak Afrikaans, but they
just went on with giving lessons in that language.” This contributed to the way most Namibians
speak the English language. Even though some of the lessons were purely given or offered in the
English language at Mbala’s school most pupils had difficulties in understating what was being
Today kids start speaking fluent English at an early age which was not the case back then and this
is one of the major changes in societies today. As it is obvious that today’s children are enjoying
the fruits of freedom and everything that comes with it. “Everyone today have a right to education
unlike back then when one had to suffered for them to be educated,:” points out Mbala. The
experience is greatly different when comparing today and during the apartheid period and the
English language in Namibia is being used more than ever.