Kaaps: Time for the language of the Cape Flats to become part of formal schooling

  • Michael le Cordeur Stellenbosch University


Throughout the centuries, language has always been a prerequisite for tuition and
learning. This contribution is based on the universal theme of language as bearer of
cultural identity and the role it plays in South African education, specifically regarding
literacy. The focus falls on especially one variant of Afrikaans, known as Kaaps, and the
role that it plays regarding the individual and group identity of the group of people
who were classified as Coloureds during apartheid1 and marginalized by poverty, place
of residence and race. The research question is whether Kaaps can make a contribution
to the successful delivery of the school curriculum in those schools which are mainly
attended by the so-called ‘Coloureds’ on the Cape Flats. The methodology chiefly
entails a literature review. From a socio-historical perspective the article reflects on
the history of Kaaps since the early 1600s, and what role it plays in the development
of Afrikaans. The literature study supplies the theoretical framework for reflection
on Kaaps. The focus is on the influence of Kaaps on its speakers’ perception of their
identity; the conflict of Kaaps with Standard Afrikaans; the current status of Kaaps
in the Coloured population; the restandardization of Afrikaans, and to what extent,
if any, Kaap comes into its own in South African schools. The study comes to the
conclusion that learners who grew up with Kaaps, are disadvantaged at school and that
the language should be utilized more inclusively.