BaKalanga Mukani Sensitisation Conference
By Divine Dube
A baKalanga sensitisation mini conference was held in Bulawayo on the 1st February 2014. It was attended by sixteen people, mainly youth of Kalanga origin. The major aim of the conference was to alert baKalanga youth on their history, cultural heritage and their linguistic and cultural rights which are now enshrined in the new constitution. This was also meant help them explore all possible avenues that will help restore the lost glory of their language and culture.
Ndzimu-Unami Emmanuel Moyo, who is the first writer of an exclusive book about baKalanga people, The Rebirth of buKalanga, published in 2012, gave a vivid description of who baKalanga are. He gave a detailed scholarly report on the migration of BaKalanga from Mapungubwe ruins in South Africa where baKalanga are first believed to have settled until they settled in present day Zimbabwe.
He challenged the mainstream historical documents used in the Zimbabwean schools’ curricula saying they distorted history. He asserted that the great Monomotapa state was a Kalanga state which is misconstrued as a Shona state whereas the Shona came to Zimbabwe after BaKalanga.
Delegates asked Moyo to unpack who baKalanga are in terms of surnames and baKalanga sub-groups which he responded by referring them to his book The Rebirth of buKalanga due to lack of time.
It was agreed by the entire delegates that there is need to sensitise the general populace about who baKalanga are after noting that many baKalanga in Zimbabwe do not know that they are baKalanga.
Thomas Sithole, who works with Plumtree Development Trust as a human rights activist and development practitioner concisely, unpacked the Bill of Rights enshrined in the new constitution. He urged baKalanga to capitalise on the constitution and other International conventions such as the United Nation Charter on Languages to advocate for the recognition of baKalanga.
Tshidzanani Malaba, who is KLCDA secretary, described the role of the Kalanga Association in promoting Kalanga Language through inclusion in the education curriculum and the organisation’s efforts to write and publish books. He described the challenges which the organisation has encountered since its formation. All baKalanga were encouraged to volunteer their time and resources towards the promotion and preservation of buKalanga and tjiKalanga.
BaKalanga were encouraged to write plays and articles in Kalanga. The delegates also agreed to engage rural district councils to use tjiKalanga in their day to day administration so that the language is promoted at grassroots levels.
Elders who are members of the association were exhorted to encourage their children to join the association so that they help promote tjiKalanga. Buhegwedu Dube, who gave closing remarks, encouraged youths to push for the wholesome recognition of Kalanga and hailed young people who constituted the majority of the delegates at the conference. He encouraged use of tjiKalanga in private and public discourse arguing that if the language is not used we might slowly lose it to extinction.