I was born and raised in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, a province where over 80 percent of the inhabitants are first-language isiZulu speakers. But I am one of those missionary kids who dreads the exclamation, “Oh! You’re an MK! How many languages do you speak?”
The answer? One.
I speak one language; English.
I attended public school, where I studied isiZulu, and went to an isiZulu-speaking church. Despite living where the majority don’t speak English as a first language, I got by comfortably with only English. In South Africa, English is the medium of instruction in high-school and university education. Although South Africa has 11 official languages, English is the language of international prestige, business and education. Everyone is trying to learn English. Because I am a first-language English speaker, I’m privileged. Everyone is trying to learn my language and I can avoid learning anyone else’s language.
But recently, I was convicted to work a bit harder at my isiZulu. Multiple compelling reasons brought me to that conclusion, but one of them has to do with bridging the racial and cultural divides that still exist in South Africa. Continue Reading…