How to Sustain the Empire without Military Presence

  • Goodenough Mashego Independent
Keywords: empire, colony, apartheid, tribalism, ethnicity, dialect, linguistic, expediency, Sepulana, liberation, Mpumalanga, France, PanSALB, Bantustan, homeland


The common factor in the global colonial project by European countries has been the introduction of their language and culture to “vanquished” communities. This is visible in the African continent and Latin America. As they intended to create a “home away from home,” even after former British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan’s “winds of change” have breezed through, collapsing one empire after another, the mainstay feature of those colonies—language—remains at the heart of liberated nations. This often unavoidable status quo has meant that the colonial project cannot be completely dismantled without leaving remnants of it that will forever connect the colonised with their former coloniser. Language has been used through centuries as a potent weapon against native communities who have never fully developed dictionaries and other forms of language preservatives. The apartheid society, as a colonial project, went a step further by cleansing some languages and Balkanising them with others, thus creating artificial linguistic communities for reasons of ethnic governance. In its manifestation this process was supposed to produce a gradual death of “other” languages in a covert ethnic genocide that pitched ethnic communities against each other. Why has South Africa, 24 years later, not reversed this apartheid hurdle that gave birth to Bantustans and homelands? Why did the democratic government agree on a figure of 11 official languages when they knew from their own membership both inside and outside the country that there were more than nine African languages spoken in South Africa? What can be done to assist authorities to get a proper grasp of the linguistic challenges facing the country at a time that some people feel culturally conquered without a shot having been fired? And why is a democratic dispensation continuing the conquest of ethnic minorities?

Author Biography

Goodenough Mashego, Independent

Goodenough Mashego is a poet, journalist/columnist, editor, publisher, translator, music executive, filmmaker, independent political analyst, award-winning playwright and cultural activist living and working in Bushbuckridge. He is the author of Journey With Me, Taste of My Vomit and Just Like Space Cookie. Mashego is literary adjudicator for both the Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Award and the South African Literary Awards (SALAs).