The Department of African Languages is one of the oldest departments within the Faculty of Humanities. From humble beginnings in three rondavels, where it was initially housed with the Departments of Anthropology and Archaeology, it has grown into a vibrant and dynamic Department, focusing strongly on innovative research and dedicated teaching. Initially, only two languages were offered within the Department, i.e. Sepedi (also referred to as Sesotho sa Leboa (Northern Sotho)) and isiZulu (Zulu), but in the late eighties, Setswana (Tswana) was added to the languages being offered, with isiNdebele (Ndebele) (spoken in South Africa) following suit in 1997.After having been temporarily suspended for four years, Setswana was reinstated in 2016, and has already attracted substantial numbers of students. This Department is one of the few universities in the country that offers isiNdebele at tertiary level. All the languages taught in the department can be studied up to doctoral level. The Department strongly supports the promotion and development of the African languages as languages of teaching and learning and as languages of scholarship at Higher Education Institutions.
Translation Studies have also been housed within the department of African languages. This does not imply that one has to have knowledge of an African language in order to enrol for Translation and Interpreting Studies, although being well versed in an African language is always an asset.