MALACCA, Dec 28 ― The changing times, globalisation and local environment are factors contributing to the extinction of the Malay language in the Malay community, especially the young generation, in South Africa.
Malay World Islamic World (DMDI) president Tan Sri Mohd Ali Rustam said the situation was worrying as they (factors) had also resulted in the Malay community in that country to mastering English and the local language.
What was more worrying, he said, was that out of more than 2,000 Malays he had met in Cape Town, which is the capital of South Africa, only two people, both in their 80s, could speak fluent Malay.
“These two people are the second generation Malay in South Africa, the third and subsequent generation that I have met, none of them are fluent in Malay, except simple words like ‘selamat pagi’ (Good Morning) and ‘apa khabar’ (how are you).
“This situation is worrying me and DMDI,” he told Bernama.
The first Malay settlers in South Africa were believed to have arrived in the country in 1600 and the population has grown to about 200,000, with most of them residing in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Mohd Ali said DMDI used to sent teachers to Cape Town to teach Malay as part of its efforts to prevent the extinction of the language and to get more people to speak the language in the country.
“The teachers were there for six months, but there was no interests among the local community to speak Malay as they were used to speaking English and the local language,” he added.
He said even the Malay characteristics in an area named “Kampung Melayu” (Malay Village) in Cape Town were also diminishing.
There were also places with Malay names, but had been changed to English names, like Bukit Semboyan in Cape Town, which was now known as Signal Hill, he added.
Mohd Ali said besides South Africa, efforts were also made by DMDI to preserve the Malay language and culture in other countries, like Australia, where the DMDI Foundation also sponsored a Malay language radio programme in Perth.
“Our effort to ensure continuity of the Malay heritage, especially language, does not stop in Asia only.
“If Malay is not spoken, less people will know the language and in the end it will be lost, and so will the Malay culture,” he added. ― Bernama