Charlize Theron sparks backlash for saying Afrikaans is a ‘dying language’

One of the world’s highest-paid actresses, Charlize Theron, born in Benoni, Transvaal Province of South Africa in 1975, has courted controversy for suggesting that Afrikaans was heading for oblivion and is only spoken by “about 44 people”. Many are bashing the actress for disrespecting the people who speak the language in various parts of the world and are seeking an apology from her.

“There’s about 44 people still speaking it, it’s definitely a dying language, it’s not a very helpful language,” the 47-year-old Oscar-winning actress said on Monday on a US podcast called ‘Smartless’.

Every since the podcast aired, South Africans have been voicing their outrage on social media. One user tweeted, “Wow what a disrespectful comment to the millions of South Africans of all ages, races…that speak Afrikaans as their first language.”

Another wrote, “When your vocabulary is limited to the following then it should come as no suprise if Charlize Theron doesn’t see Afrikaans as a ‘helpful’ language? She and her mother left RSA in 1991, I vaguely remember many Apartheid apologists leaving around that time.”

Some notable personalities also commented on the actress’ remarks. Actor Tim Theron told the South African website News 24 that Afrikaans is “not dying and that there are new songs and poems being written every day, movies made etc”.

Meanwhile, singer Steve Hofmeyr, who croons songs in Afrikaans, says the language boasts some of the best swear words. He told TimesLive that Afrikaans is “alive and well”. 

In short, some accused Theron of being “ashamed of her roots” or trying to seek validation from black people, while others resonated with comments and welcomed her words because they feel “Afrikaans has a strong association with apartheid” and was “once used to oppress Africans”.

Afrikaans is one of 11 official languages spoken in South Africa and it is used by around 12 per cent of the country’s population.

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