Happy moments: One hundred staff members graduated from the isiXhosa course recently.
As Professor Mbulungeni Madiba greeted everyone and joked in isiXhosa, his students burst into laughter, with the braver responding in a rather broken language. As student Daniel Franco puts it, that served to break the ice and start conversations in isiXhosa, fulfilling the objective of the isiXhosa course for beginners, popularly known as Masithethe isiXhosa.
The 12-week, one-hour course, offered by the Multilingualism Education Project (MEP) in the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED), has been attended by more than 800 UCT staff since its introduction in 2006. The idea is to promote multilingualism at the university, which is viewed as pivotal to transformation, and to equip staff with basic communication skills in isiXhosa.
Franco, a technical specialist with ICTS, attests to this. "I have a better understanding of the language and know the basics," said Franco, who was among the 100 staff members who graduated from the course on 25 November. He continues to learn the language by conversing with isiXhosa-speaking people around the university.
Erisan Nyamutenha, another student, said as a foreigner the course has given him a sense of belonging and made him aware of the Xhosa culture, things that make integration easy.
Professor Nan Yield, dean of CHED, said the course fits well with UCT's objective to improve institutional culture.
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