The last hope for N/uu, a language on the brink of extinction

The ancient, indigenous language of N/uu is in danger of dying out forever, write Elinor Sisulu and Lorato Trok. One of the two people still alive who learnt it at their mother’s knee is Katrina Esau, now in her late 80s, who deserves to be granted the status and benefits of a university professor

20 September 2020 - 00:00 By Elinor Sisulu and Lorato Trok

The more endangered a language and heritage are, the more firmly people cling to them, but if the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that time is not on our side and that those involved in heritage work need to be supported with more urgency than ever.

This year, the Puku Children’s Literature Foundation has declared acclaimed language activist Katrina Esau our “heritage hero”, to highlight the urgency of her quest to ensure the survival of her mother tongue, the N/uu language, one the oldest and most endangered in the world...

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