Afrikaans is the third most common language in South Africa. It is spoken by 13.5% of the population, or 6 855 082 people – mainly “coloured” and white South Africans. The language has its roots in 17th century Dutch, with influences from English, Malay, German, Portuguese, French, and some African languages. One of the first works of written Afrikaans was Bayaan-ud-djyn, an Islamic tract written in Arabic script by Abu Bakr.
Initially known as Cape Dutch, Afrikaans was largely a spoken language for people living in the Cape, with proper Dutch the formal, written language.
Afrikaans came into its own with the growth of Afrikaner identity, being declared an official language – with English – of the Union of South Africa in 1925.
The language was promoted alongside Afrikaner nationalism after 1948 and played an important role in minority white rule in apartheid South Africa. The 1976 schoolchildren’s uprising was sparked by the proposed imposition of Afrikaans in township schools.