Our Vision

Our indigenous languages are fully used as valuable cultural, social, political and economic resources within a multilingual South Africa. Our indigenous languages and true multilingualism form the foundation for economic inclusiveness, social cohesion, and a stable human-rights based democracy.

Our Mission

To partner with institutions and individuals, both private and public, to build a South Africa where indigenous languages are used and celebrated privately and professionally.

Our Aim

To achieve the active use of our indigenous languages as valuable resources in important sectors like education, the criminal justice system, health care, the private sector and others.

Indigenous Languages Action Forum (ILAF)

The ILAF is a bottom-up network of language practitioners, academics, educators, authors and artists committed to the use of our indigenous languages in all spheres of our lives.

What Are Indigenous Languages?

Languages are indigenous to the country or region in which they developed and serve as a vehicle of expression for the knowledge, culture and identity of its speakers.

Why multilingualism?

Multilingualism is the use of several languages by institutions such as government departments, companies, churches, hospitals, schools and universities. The active use of several languages in any institution improves inclusion and access. Collectively this promotes equity and social cohesion within our society. We should strive at a situation in which all South Africans speak at least two indigenous languages along with English.


You first heard your heritage language in your mother’s womb. Your language is the vehicle of your culture, the language in which you connect best with your ancestors and in which you are truly creative. Your language is you and the more languages you know, the more you are. That is why ILAF promotes the indigenous languages as heritage languages. Reclaim your mother tongue!


Students taught in their mother tongues or the languages that they know best, learn better. They grasp concepts, digest and use them more easily than they do in another language. That is why ILAF seeks to normalise and promote Mother Tongue Education (MTE) and the use of the indigenous languages as valuable resources in our schools, colleges and universities. Master English—though your mother tongue.
ILAF Smiling Woman


Using the indigenous languages improves access to important services, for example: government, healthcare, education and justice. Businesses like banks that use indigenous languages give everybody equal access to better services.


Companies that embrace new language technologies and actively use the indigenous languages to engage with their customer base, gain a competitive edge in a multilingual world. Business is language. In a multilingual country, active use of the indigenous languages also helps to drive inclusive economic growth, while multilingual people obtain more opportunities.