However, for Nigerian parents (especially those of the Igbo stock) it was received with some pleasant surprise as the Igbo language was officially recognised as one of the languages mostly spoken by learners at home on the admissions website of the department www.gdeadmissions.gov.za.
The other languages recognised by the department on the form are Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Sepedi, Siswati, Sepedi, Tsonga, Venda, Sesotho, Ndebele, Shona, Setswana, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, French, German.
Trying to get the reaction of the community to this development, SANigerians spoke to Rev. Chidozie Ejimadu who is the Secretary General of Ohaneze Ndigbo South Africa the apex socio-cultural organisation of people of Igbo descent in South Africa. He showed little surprise and said that recognition of Igbo language was long overdue considering the population of Igbos in South Africa and sizeable number of inter-marriages between people of Igbo descent and local South Africans which has produced tens of thousands of Igbo South African children
He described most Igbos and Nigerians in general who reside in South Africa as industrious and hard working. He also likened them to a people with strong sense of family and appreciation of educational excellence.
Master Hacjivah 'Chuks' Dayimani is a distinguished scholar and Lions Rugby player like many Igbo/Nigerian children in S.A ( Photo Credits Deon Van Der Merwe)
Another community leader Oguguo Anayo also pointed out that recognition of Igbo language is something positive considering that many locals have fallen in love with the language and culture mostly by watching Nollywood films. He also said that Igbo and Nigerian kids are not just in schools in Gauteng but are setting paces in academics and sports even in sports like rugby which is not traditionally played in Nigeria.
The general sentiments of most Igbos parents interviewed by SANigerians Online Magazine is that the recognition accorded the language though a small step, is a milestone for the Igbo and Nigerian community as it signals signs of official reception and integration of the Nigerian community in South Africa.