BaKalanga welcome the indigenous languages indaba

Updated: October 18, 2012

The Koisan people showcase their traditional dance at the inaugural indigenous languages indaba in Bulawayo last Wednesday.

The Kalanga speakers in Bulawayo hailed the inaugural indigenous languages indaba held in the second largest city as a welcome development meant to foster unity among speakers of the marginalised Zimbabwean language.

The indaba, first of its kind and organized by the civic society in Matabeleland brought together Kalangas, Tongas, Sothos, BaTswana, Koisan, Vendas, the Ndau among other speakers of the so called minority languages.

Discussed in the meeting whose atmosphere was ecstatic were rights entitled to these groups, in view of the constitution-making process nearing completion.

“This is a very, very crucial platform. I think we have been begging for such platforms; we have been looking for such platforms but unfortunately a lot of organisations have been so caught up in these other issues: politics and devolution which are equally important but I will say this platform is unique and crucial considering that Zimbabwe is in a very critical decisive moment in history where we are writing a new constitution,” said Emmanuel Ndlovu from Matobo.

He added: “I was able to meet with a lot of guys from Plumtree, from Kezi and we were happy to engage each other in Kalanga and I think this is a good platform. I feel at home even when I am away.”

Ndlovu who holds a degree in Linguistics from the University of Zimbabwe said a lot still needed to be done for the Kalanga language to grow and develop.

“I think the issue of lexicography; the issue of documentation; we need as many people to come forward to assist especially in issues of phonology, morphology, syntax, how words are properly strung in Kalanga so that we are able to write down for generations to come and produce text books that can be of reference.”

Headwoman Hikwa from Bulilima said the closure of teacher training institutions – Dombodema, Empandeni and Embakwe – in Bulilima and Mangwe soon after independence were contributing to declining education standards in the Kalanga-speaking districts.

She said Plumtree High School should be turned into a technical college to benefit students from Bulilima-Mangwe arguing it was only benefiting the elite from outside Plumtree.

“That school (Plumtree High) is quite big kuti ingatiwa technical college but just because kugele banu banomajinalayiziwa, hakuna unoti take note of it. Tokumbila kutiwe take note of that. Bana bedu koyi banoyena benohinga kuGoli banobe bahaya kuti banoyenda poni,” she emphasized.

Tshidzanani Malaba, secretary of the Kalanga Language and Cultural Development Association (KLCDA) said the marginalization of indigenous languages such as Kalanga makes speakers of such feel foreign in their motherland.

“It makes them feel excluded from other people and begin to ask themselves where they came from,” he said.

He added some Kalangas were comfortable in South Africa since the treatment they are getting from the neighbouring country was not different from the way they are viewed in Zimbabwe.

 article by Mandla Tshuma


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