By Meggan McCarthy & Marelize Dyosop
The Xhosa Open Society was officially launched on 18 April 2008 in the Great Hall were culture and language was celebrated. There was a large turnout which included both isiXhosa mother tongue speakers, as well as those who use isiXhosa as an additional language.
The entertainment included music by the Rhodes University Mbira Band. Those who were unfamiliar with the culture got a chance to taste traditional Xhosa food and umqombothi (beer).
Professor Russell Kaschula, head of Rhodes’ School of Languages, said that the society’s main aim is to make isiXhosa more visible and that, although it is a society about isiXhosa language and culture, they want it to be an “inclusive society where everyone is welcome”. Kaschula, commenting on the need for this society said, “It’s ironic that we are offering isiXhosa to mother tongue speakers yet we did not have a society which would revive and promote the isiXhosa culture.”
In light of The Responsible Alcohol Use Policy, Dean of Students, Vivian de Klerk said, “Here we’ve got leadership that’s going to promote a culture, it’s not just a cheese and wine.”
Hleze Kunju, chairperson of the society, felt the evening was a great success. “The response was more than we thought it would be,” he said.
Jeremy Marks, a third year foreign exchange student, reflected on being exposed to the isiXhosa culture. “I love it, I saw enthusiasm, everyone participated and everyone was very welcoming,” he commented. He also commented that if he could have stayed longer than one semester, then he would have joined the society. Eric Mgolozeli, a first year student, shared the positive sentiments and feels that this society is “motivating the isiXhosa people about their language”.