The Language Services Unit of the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) invited the Secretary-General of the National Commission for UNESCO, Mr Carlton Lufuno Mukwevho, to participate at their official launch of year-long activities to celebrate 2019 as the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL). The launch took place on Wednesday, 20 March 2019 at the Sendinggestig Museum, 40 Long Street in Cape Town. Speaking at the event about the importance of the preservation and promotion of indigenous languages, the Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Ms Anroux Marais, said that government supports the drive as it is through language that we communicate with the world, define our identity, express our history and culture, learn, defend our human rights and participate in all aspects of society. "Through language, people preserve their community’s history, customs and traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking, meaning and expression," she said.
The declaration of UNESCO’s IYIL 2019 presented the perfect opportunity for aligning the Language Service unit’s mandate with the international vision. Tasked with the mandate of actively promoting multilingualism with special focus on previously marginalised languages according to the guidelines of the Western Cape Language Act of 1998 and the Western Cape Language policy, the unit has various projects planned for 2019, which promote the idea of the preservation and development of indigenous languages, such as the Young Writer’s Forum to be held at the Cape Town Central Library; the Spelling Bee for Indigenous Languages Competition in Gugulethu; and the Official Launch of the Afri-KWé Language Project at the University of Stellenbosch on the 23rd of March 2019.