For Nelson Mandela's Birthday - Multilingual South Africa

Today, on 18 July, 104 years ago, a boy was born in Mvezo, South Africa, who would make his country a republic and who would fight for freedom, against oppression and against apartheid, and who would be regarded as a role model for integrity and peace until after his death. We are talking about Nelson Mandela, the first President of Colour of the Republic of South Africa.

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South Africa has always been a multiethnic and multicultural country. Accordingly, this country is also multilingual. Since the end of apartheid, there are a total of eleven official languages: English, Afrikaans (an Indo-European language very similar to Dutch), isiZulu (a Bantu language and the most spoken language in the Republic), Siswanti, Southern Ndebele, Sesotho, Northern Sotho, Xitsonga, Setswana, Tshivenda and isiXhosa (also Bantu languages). With this diversity of official languages, South Africa is the country with the most official languages after Bolivia and India. In addition, there are also numerous minority languages in the Republic of South Africa that have no official status. Above all, the languages of the indigenous San and Khoikhoi peoples are severely threatened with extinction, as is their culture.

Many South Africans are polyglots. Nelson Mandela was one too. English is the leading lingua franca in South Africa, although all eleven official languages have equal status. It is also seen as less affected by apartheid policies, unlike Afrikaans, whose influence has waned over the years. Many white South Africans also speak other European languages such as Greek, Portuguese or German. In addition, there are people of Indian descent living in the Republic of South Africa who once immigrated as contract workers. They still speak Tamil or Gujarati today. 

Nelson Mandela belonged to the Xhosa people. However, he himself was baptised Methodist so that he could receive a formal education. 

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