In South Africa we now have eleven official languages, but English is the operational language, or in other words, the language used generally. Up until 1994, we only had two official languages, namely, English and Afrikaans. The African languages were never recognised during the Apartheid era or before.
I grew up in an Afrikaans speaking family and community. Only when I was seven years old, did I start to learn English in school. This did not mean that I ever had the opportunity to practice the use of English as we had no English speaking neighbours, friends or even acquaintances. My own parents could only speak a very elementary form of English and this was quite acceptable, and even expected, as in the English communities, the same applied to Afrikaans.
It must be borne in mind that the Anglo-Boer War only ended in 1902. During, and for many years after that war, the traditional, fiercely nationalist, Afrikaner nation suffered much hardship and humiliation (whether real or imagined) at the hand of the English victor. The farm of my own grandparents were burnt by the English but fortunately my grandmother, with her children, managed to escape and did not end up in one of the dreaded concentration camps. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Boer_War) Understandably, the English, or their language, were not at all welcome or popular in the community where I grew up.
It was only when I was sixteen years old, and started attending a dual medium (English and Afrikaans) school, that I started communicating in English and also very irregularly as even then, each language group kept to themselves. Once I left school, and being the "rebel" that I was, I became friends with English speaking people at work and and eventually English really did become my second language.
Today, all my communication and correspondence at work is in English and ninety percent of what I read is in English. This never bothered me as I have truly become, over the years, a truly bilingual South African read: I have forgiven the English - lol) Then, quite a while ago, I was given the task to write a speech for my boss in Afrikaans and to my horror I found that I just could not express myself on paper in my mother tongue. What a wake up call!
Well to tell a condensed version of a very long story, I decided to start reading Afrikaans fiction again. I was astounded, and delighted, to find just how much Afrikaans fiction has developed over the years. In a very short time, I discovered a number of excellent Afrikaans authors who can hold their own against any bestselling English author, anywhere in the world.
To celebrate my "rediscovery" of Afrikaans, I have decided to start a blog in my mother tongue. So to those who read my blog and understand Afrikaans, please visit "Ek is Anna". It can be accessed from my profile. I am not sure where "Ek is Anna" is headed, but Anna has always been an individual who followed her own head, so let's just watch and see where she takes us in the future.