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Thu, 16 Feb 2006
You are in: Business  > Business News


COMPANIES
Rupert snubs mag over Afrikaans slur
Donwald Pressly
Mon, 05 Dec 2005

The Freedom Front Plus, a parliamentary party which aims to represent Afrikaans-speakers, has publicly backed South African billionaire businessman Johann Rupert who withdrew millions of rand worth of advertisements from a British magazine.

The magazine, Wallpaper, recently described Afrikaans as "one of the ugliest languages in the world" and Rupert withdrew Richemont advertisements from the magazine — which focuses on décor matters.

Rupert, who is chairperson of the luxury products group Richemont, was reported in the Afrikaans weekly newspaper, Rapport, on Sunday saying he "could not believe his eyes" when he saw in the September edition of Wallpaper this reference to Afrikaans being ugly under a photograph of the taalmonument (Afrikaans language monument) at Paarl.

Rupert, who is also chairperson of Remgro, said he had "had enough" of his language being belittled and he would not sit still and look on while his language and culture were drawn through the mud.

FF+ leader Pieter Mulder — a veteran member of Parliament — said his party "wholeheartedly supports the actions of Mr Rupert" in withdrawing the advertisements which include the Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Montblanc and Alfred Dunhill ranges.

Self-respect

Mulder said: "Mr Rupert is right when he says that any Englishman or Irishman who is worth his salt would have done the same thing. Any person with self-respect should protect his language in this way and that goes for all languages in South Africa.

"Many Afrikaans speakers today accept that their language has to be treated badly. Mr Rupert, through his actions, sets an example to many South African companies who are at present finding all kinds of excuses as to why they want Afrikaans clients' money but do not respect their language.

"The FF+ calls on Afrikaans speakers to stand on their constitutional rights and to maintain their language without offending any other language.

"The way in which Afrikaans is maintained will greatly determine whether the language will command respect from other language and cultural groups. Afrikaans should not be a prickly pair in the South African language orchard with long thorns which nobody wants to touch.

"On the other hand, Mr Rupert has proved that the time has passed for Afrikaans speakers to have to apologise for everything, including their language.

Buying power

"The realities of South Africa, such as the buying power of Afrikaans and the fact that Afrikaans is the third strongest language following Zulu and Xhosa, should protect Afrikaans as an official language.

"Yet the opposite occurs. Research shows that Afrikaans is the only language which position has deteriorated since 1994, while English and the other African languages' position have improved."

Noting the power of Afrikaans in the business environment, Mulder said: "The fact that more than nine million transactions a month take place at Absa ATMs in Afrikaans confirms the buying-power reality. Hopefully, more banks will take note of Absa's success to empower all languages at their ATMs."

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