Conference confirms readiness to move beyond intellectualisation of African languages 

by Phaphama Tshisikhawe

11 October 2023

“Beyond the primary requirement of literacy, intellectualisation of African languages depends on a number of other enabling conditions. The first is availability and access to all knowledge, past, present and future.”

Dr Tebogo Rakgogo (Right), HoD at Applied Languages, board member at PanSALB and Chairperson of the conference’s organising committee sitting next to
Dr Yanga Majola who received the best PhD thesis award.

These were among the sentiments shared at the 24th International Conference of the African Languages Association of Southern Africa (ALASA) hosted by Tshwane University of Technology’s Department of Applied Languages in collaboration with the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) at the Birchwood Hotel, Boksburg from 26 to 29 September 2023.

Themed “Beyond the intellectualisation of African languages for awakening potential in Africa”, the annual African languages conference takes place during Heritage Month (September). It is aimed at promoting research in indigenous African languages and exploring innovative ideas to advance their development.

The conference brought together global intergenerational experts in various language fields, creating a platform for language experts to put their heads together to identify issues that continue to subvert the development of African languages and find innovative ways to tackle them. 

Dr Tebogo Rakgogo, HoD at Applied Languages, board member at PanSALB and Chairperson of the conference’s organising committee, said TUT was grateful for the opportunity to host the ALASA conference. “The association continues to invest in advancing the discourse on the development of African languages to dispel the notion that they have no place in an increasingly hegemonic and globalised society.”

He added that during year’s conference, ALASA wanted to boldly display that African languages can compete at an academic, professional and global scale. “Also, our languages can convey a broad range of human expressions and subjects; the only requirement is that their development and promotion must be pursued fervently to place them in their rightful place, beyond intellectualisation,” he said.

 Prof Thenjiwe Meyiwa, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Commercialisation at UNISA presenting at the ALSA Conference.

During discussions at the four-day conference, it was highlighted that society and all its constituencies, should appropriately use intellectualised languages. These include: 

  • Government stakeholders; 
  • The education system at all levels; 
  • Business, commerce and industry; 
  • Professions such as engineering, medicine, law, agricultural sciences, etc; 
  • Mass communication and creative writing; 
  • Foreign relations and international business banking, trade and commerce; and 
  • Information technology, to name a few.

Each day of the conference commenced with a plenary session, followed by breakaway sessions during which various presentations centred around the conference theme were shared, including presentations of papers on linguistics and other related fields. During the conference gala dinner held on the second day, Dr Yanga Majola from the Department of Applied Languages received an award for the best PhD thesis. 

Click below to view the live stream:

Day 1 -

Day 2/3 -

Day 4 -

ALASA Conference.
Prof Mashupye Maserumule, Executive Dean at the Faculty of Humanities.
Mr Lance Schultz - PanSALB CEO; Prof Lolie Makhubu-Badenhorst - Chairperson of the Board (PanSALB); Prof Richard Madadzhe - Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Teaching and Learning at the University of Limpopo.

For more information on the Tshwane University of Technology, please contact Phaphama Tshisikhawe, Corporate Affairs and Marketing.
Tel: +27 12 382 4711  Email: