Cornelis Jacobus Langenhoven (1873-1932) was a writer, poet, and philosopher who lived in Oudtshoorn and was perhaps best known as the author of Die Stem, the poem whose words were used as the original South African national anthem.
He qualified in law from Cape Town University and worked as an attorney in Cape Town and Oudtshoorn, becoming an MP in 1914. But in addition to his political career Langenhoven was committed to establishing Afrikaans as a new language in South Africa – to date it had been regarded as a dialect of Dutch. He started Die Burger newspaper in 1915; in 1925 Afrikaans was accepted as a Parliamentary language, and in 1927 it was recognised as an official language in South Africa, together with English.
His home in Oudtshoorn, Arbeidsgenot, is now a museum and well worth a visit. Langenhoven and his wife are buried in the grounds of their home.
Today in South Africa there are eleven official languages and the census of 2011 showed the following distribution of these languages. Interestingly Afrikaans still enjoys a geographical dominance, although only the first language for 13.5% of the population.
Langenhoven and his publisher
The museum in Oudtshoorn
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