1. β€’
    So there are 11 official languages in South Africa.
    English is only the fourth most common home language (9.6%), and my home language is third (13.5%).
  2. β€’
    But English is probably most used as an intermediate among people of different languages.
  3. β€’
    And only English and Afrikaans are currently used as academic languages. Most university graduates have been taught in English, and some in Afrikaans.
  4. β€’
    Where I work, isiXhosa is the most commonly spoken. It's the second most common home language in ZA.
  5. β€’
    At university during my first year, we received a six week crash course in basic isiXhosa for healthcare. It was in no way sustainable.
  6. β€’
    Anyway. This past week I walked passed the paediatric clinic on my way to another ward.
    I'm no longer in the paediatric service and I miss it!
  7. β€’
    There were these adorable kids just playing in the corridors and I high fived them as I walked past, and said, "Molweni babies."
    Molweni is the plural greeting in Xhosa. Babies is just babies.
  8. β€’
    The oldest kid in the group, a girl of probably around six, stretched her eyes widely and clasped her hands in front of her mouth. She exclaimed, "The doctor can speak Xhosa!"
    I laughed and affirmed, although my Xhosa is a million miles from acceptable.
  9. β€’
    But guys.
  10. β€’
    It was ONE WORD.
  11. β€’
    The way her eyes shone.
  12. β€’
    It made me happy and sad.
  13. β€’
    Because so many doctors just don't make the effort of learning the language of their patients.
  14. β€’
    So many will ask their patients why they don't know English; as if everyone in this country has always had the opportunity to learn it. As if nobody were ever disadvantaged; as if poverty does not STILL disadvantage millions in ZA.
  15. β€’
    It meant so much to that little girl that a doctor cares about speaking HER language.
    It shouldn't be so novel. Surely?
  16. β€’
    I'm going to try doubly hard to learn more, now.