Jewish Kids Learning African Language

The King David Primary School, a Jewish school in Victoria Park, is teaching its first to fourth grade pupils South Sotho, a major language of South African Blacks. One 20-minute lesson a week is given which includes learning the morning prayers in South Sotho. The youngsters do their homework with the assistance of the Black family servants, according to their teacher, Mrs. Thelma Altschuler.

She said the lessons in South Sotho are intended to make the Jewish youngsters aware of the fact that Black people with whom they have daily contact at home have a culture of their own which is a closed book to the average white child in South Africa. The King David School museum recently held an exhibition of the customs, music and dress of the South Sothos.

Mrs. Altschuler, who was born and lived for 20 years on a farm in Ficksburg, on the Lesotho border, learned the language of that South African Black region as a child, along with English and Afrikaans. The latter, a form of Dutch, is the mother tongue of Afrikaners, the majority of the white population in the Republic of South Africa. Mrs. Altschuler noted recently that while Black Africans make an effort to learn English and Afrikaans, the vast majority of the country’s white population cannot speak a word of any African language.

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