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SANEF, PANSALB, UN hold First Indigenous Language and the Media Seminar


 06 September 2023

 Invitation: First Indigenous Language and the Media Seminar 

Johannesburg, South Africa – The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF), in collaboration with the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) and the United Nations in South Africa, is pleased to invite members of the media to the inaugural Indigenous Languages and the Media Seminar.

Date: 7th September 2023

Time: 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Venue: Radisson Blu, Gautrain, Sandton

Theme: The role of indigenous languages in the media in building engaged and informed communities.

Keynote Speakers:

  • Professor Abiodun Salawu, Professor of Journalism, Communication, and Media Studies, and Director of the research entity, Indigenous Language Media in Africa (ILMA)
  • Mr. Nelson Muffuh, UN Resident Coordinator in South Africa
  • Mr. Lance Schultz, PanSALB Chief Executive Officer

In 2019, SANEF commissioned an Inquiry into Media Ethics and Credibility, which highlighted concerns about the lack of content in African languages. The inquiry recommended “lobbying for the provision of comprehensive, informed news content in African languages accessible to all.” In response to these recommendations, SANEF is organizing the Indigenous Languages and Media Seminar.

Indigenous languages play a crucial role in South Africa’s linguistic diversity. Their promotion and utilization by the media are essential for preserving them. Unfortunately, there has been a decline in the use and understanding of indigenous languages, especially among the youth. This seminar aims to address this issue and find solutions.

The seminar aims to bring together critical stakeholders, including PanSALB, the UN, and influential indigenous language practitioners, to have frank conversations, debates, and initiate discussions that can lead to actionable solutions beyond the seminar.

It will have a two-pronged approach:

  • Understanding the status of indigenous languages and the role media can play.
  • Exploring interventions and action points for promoting and preserving indigenous languages.

The target audience for this seminar includes media practitioners from Gauteng and adjoining provinces. Preference will be given to journalists from small and independent community media outlets. Participants have been drawn from digital, print, and broadcast media, as well as various stakeholders with interests in language development and the impactful role of community media.

Sbu Ngalwa, the SANEF chairperson says: The seminar will help journalists with strategies for reporting on indigenous languages without stigmatisation or ostracization. We will collectively explore the critical role of indigenous languages in the media and work towards their preservation and promotion.”

Lance Schultz, PanSALB Chief Executive Officer says: “Throughout history, the media has played a crucial role in the growth and preservation of indigenous languages. The first recorded written text in an African language in the country dates to the 1800’s, which is an excellent foundation to build upon. It is about time we as a nation begin the journey of forging collaborative efforts between the media, parents, teachers, education authorities, and stakeholders to promote indigenous languages.”

Nelson Muffuh, the UN Resident Coordinator in South Africa, says: “Through this seminar, we plan to work with all our partners in South Africa and the region to understand the risks associated with the lack of promotion of indigenous languages. Communities must establish practical ways to work with the media, especially community media, to actively promote indigenous languages in their daily lives.”

Join us at this groundbreaking seminar to ensure that African generations continue to speak and uphold their languages.

For media inquiries and registration, please contact: [email protected]


SANEF is a non-profit organisation whose members are editors, senior journalists, and journalism trainers from all areas of South African media. We are committed to championing South Africa’s hard-won freedom of expression and promoting quality, ethics, and diversity in the South African media. We promote excellence in journalism through fighting for media freedom, writing policy submissions, research, and education and training programmes. SANEF is not a union.

About PanSALB

The Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) is envisioned in section 6 of the Constitution and was created in terms of the Pan South African Language Board Act 59 of 1995 amended as PanSALB Amendment Act of 1999). It was established to provide for the recognition, implementation, and furtherance of multilingualism in the Republic of South Africa to promote all official languages, including Khoi and San languages.

About UN

The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945. Currently made up of 193 Member States, the UN and its work are guided by the purposes and principles contained in its founding Charter. The UN has evolved over the years to keep pace with a rapidly changing world. But one thing has stayed the same: it remains the one place on Earth where all the world’s nations can gather together, discuss common problems, and find shared solutions that benefit all of humanity.