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South Africa: Tributes Pour in for Dr Alexander

Pretoria — Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande has expressed his deepest condolences on the death of internationally acclaimed linguist, academic and struggle veteran, Dr Neville Alexander.

He described his passing on as a great loss to the intellectual community.

Alexander passed away on Monday at his home in Grassy Park after a period of ill-health.

"I had a lot of respect for Neville, for his contribution in the struggle for liberation - even though we come from two different left traditions, and we often disagreed on many things, I deeply respected him as a committed socialist intellectual and activist," Nzimande said.

Nzimande shared with Dr Alexander a similar passion on the issue of language and the need to develop African languages as a critical dimension of the liberation and social emancipation of the majority of South Africans.

In 2011, the minister hosted a roundtable that interrogated the state of African languages in universities, which was attended by representatives from the public higher education institutions, civil society and statutory bodies concerned with language development in the country.

Nzimande said he admired Dr Alexander for having distinguished himself as an academic of note well beyond the age of 60, which exemplified the necessity for elder academics to continue playing a role, particularly in nurturing younger scholars.!
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South Africa: Western Cape Mourns the Death of Language Pioneer - MEC Ivan Meyer


It is with great sadness that just as South Africa is finally about to finalise the South African Language Users Act, we learn of the death of Dr Neville Alexander. Dr Alexander will be remembered for his pioneering work in the field of language policy and planning in South Africa. He has been influential in respect of language policy development with various government departments, including Education.

Neville Alexander was a member of the Western Cape Language Committee, since its inception in 1999 to 2005. He was one of the key members responsible for the conceptualisation and formulation of the Western Cape Language Policy which was launched on International Mother Language Day on 21 February 2005. He was a specialist in the field of multilingualism and mother tongue education, and was one of the key note speakers at the Conference on Multilingualism held on 20 February 2012.

In my personal discussion with him during this symposium, I was struck by his commitment to multilingualism in a diverse society. I will remember him as an independent and lateral thinker on language and cultural rights. He devoted more than twenty years of his professional life to defend and preserve multilingualism in South Africa and became one of the major advocates of linguistic diversity.

Neville Alexander will be sorely missed.

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Neville Alexander, Mandela prison companion, dies

JOHANNESBURG: South African academic and distinguished linguist Neville Alexander, who spent time in jail with Nelson Mandela, died of cancer aged 75 on Monday, the University of Cape Town said.
Born in the southern town of Cradock in 1936, the mixed race activist would go on to campaign against apartheid in the 1950s and spend a decade on Robben Island.
Alexander obtained his doctorate in German at the University of Tuebingen in then West Germany in 1961.
Three years later he was convicted for conspiracy to commit sabotage in South Africa against the white minority regime, along with other members of the National Liberation Front, which he co-founded. He spent the next 10 years on Robben Island, a political prison off the coast of Cape Town.
One of Alexander's companions was Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in various jails before he was released and became South Africa's first black president in 1994.
Alexander taught other inmates history, while Mandela taught law and current presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj economics.
Released in 1974, the scholar joined Steve Biko's Black Consciousness Movement.
Alexander ran in the 1994 elections at the end of white minority rule with the Trotskyist Workers Organisation for Socialist Action, which won 0.02 percent in the poll.
Having joined the University of Cape Town, Alexander later focused on multilingualism in a nation discovering democracy and confronted with the increasing influence of English.
South Africa has 11 official languages, but English is often used as common language.
"He will always be remembered for his pioneering work on language policy, including his most recent work, focusing on the tension between multilingualism and the hegemony of the English language in the public sphere," said President Jacob Zuma in a statement.!
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