THE Afrikaans language and culture organisation ATKV adopted a range of sweeping changes to its policies and vision at its national conference held near Rustenburg recently.

Outeniqua branch chairman Pieter de Wet yesterday said the organisation was acutely aware of its white Afrikaner image. It was determined to preserve the reality that Afrikaans was the mother tongue of a significant proportion of South Africans of all races, and that not all Afrikaans-speaking people were Afrikaners.

“After considerable debate the meeting adopted a new vision for the organisation in that it should become the natural home for all Afrikaans-speaking people. Apart from its use in communication, our language is the core of our culture and creativity,” he said.

De Wet said the meeting recognised Afrikaans had the stigma from South Africa’s political past that it was the language of the oppressor but the ATKV was determined to change that.

In line with national education policies on mother tongue tuition, De Wet said the organisation was planning to approach Education Minister Angie Motshekga to ensure it retained its place among the indigenous languages used in schools.

Recognising that the membership of the ATKV was currently skewed towards middle age, the meeting also adopted a policy of increasing exposure to the youth of the country through expanding the network of youth branches already an existence.

“In my own teenage years in Dundee I was instrumental in starting the first youth branch of the ATKV in the country, so this objective is very close to my heart,” De Wet said.

The ATKV also hosts drama, singing, debating and dance workshops to encourage the use and development of the language. Social responsibility programmes are also promoted, including poverty relief and a self sufficiency project.