President pays tribute to Dr Neville Alexander

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has sent condolences to the family and friends of freedom fighter and academic, Dr Neville Alexander, who passed away at the age of 75.

Zuma said the country had lost a person of high intellectual and academic standing, adding that Dr Alexander would always be remembered for his pioneering work on language policy -- including his most recent work -- focusing on the tension between multilingualism and the hegemony of the English Language in the public sphere.

"We are saddened by this loss of a South African who had contributed selflessly to the struggle for liberation and to building a better society and a better South Africa. At a professional level, Dr Alexander, as an accomplished linguist, contributed immensely to language development in our country," said Zuma.

Alexander, who passed away on Monday, 27 August, at his home in Grassy Park after a period of ill-health, was imprisoned on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela for 10 years on a charge of conspiracy to commit sabotage.

Best known as a proponent of a multilingual South Africa, he was a co-founder of the National Liberation Front and a director of the South African Committee for Higher Education.

Also paying tribute to Dr Alexander, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said the education sector had lost a genius, whose clarity of thought and unwavering commitment to social justice ensured that with the fall of apartheid, the realisation of a multilingual society became a reality.

"We are saddened by Dr Alexander's passing, an expert who gave generously of his time to all who sought his advice and guidance. He was, above all, an exceptionally humble man, whose record as an educator is testimony to the rich resources upon which our country has had to draw for its liberation and post-liberation work in education.

"His achievements were recognised and rewarded here and abroad. His presence in education will be missed," said Motshekga.

Dr Alexander initiated the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa (PRAESA) at the University of Cape Town and also participated in numerous official and unofficial language planning, research and development bodies, both in South Africa and internationally.