BaKalanga Mukani Sensitisation Conference

Updated: February 13, 2014

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He challenged the mainstream historical documents used in the Zimbabwean schools’ curricula saying they distorted history.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.


Kalanga textbooks launched

Updated: January 28, 2014

by Pindai Dube, reprinted from Daily News

BULAWAYO – A community development organisation last week launched the first Kalanga language textbooks which will be used in the country’s primary and secondary schools.

The textbooks which were launched on Friday in Plumtree, will be distributed in Matabeleland South where the language is now being taught.

Tshidzanani Malaba the secretary for Kalanga Language and Cultural Development Association (KLCDA) said this was done in line with the new constitution which now recognises Kalanga as one of the country’s official languages.

“Under this programme we wrote textbooks from Grade 1 to 7 with volunteer Kalanga teachers and committed members of the KLCDA. It was not an easy task as it required a lot of commitment, resources and time. We then approached Education Transition Fund who agreed to print our books before publication,” Malaba told Daily News.

Kalanga language is now being taught in schools in Bulilima, Mangwe and Matopo districts in Matabeleland South province where majority of Bakalanga people are found as well as Tsholotsho district in Matabeleland North province.

Malaba added that up until the launch, Kalanga language was being taught in schools in these four districts of the country without textbooks.

Speaking during the launch which was held at Plumtree High School and attended by Bakalanga elders, traditional chiefs, teachers and schools headmasters — Matabeleland South Provincial Education director Thumisang Thabela said school heads in that area do not need to be Kalanga in order to promote the language.

Thabela said all they needed to do was respect the BaKalanga community.

KLCDA vice president, Mclean Bhala who is also Lupane State University vice Chancellor said: “These books do not belong to KLCDA they belong to the Education ministry. What belongs to KLCDA are intellectual property rights hence no one can change the content of the text books without our consent.”

The launch of Kalanga textbooks comes after the recent introduction of Tonga language teachings in Binga district schools.

The UZ Department of African Languages also recently said it had partnered with the University of Zambia to teach Tonga since there are no local lecturers for the language.

Schools receive Kalanga books

Updated: April 6, 2014

Matabeleland South provincial education director, Tumisang Thabela has urged teachers to promote indigenous languages saying they were oblidged to do so by the Bill of Rights.

Provincial education director Tumisang Thabela presents Kalanga textbooks to School Development Committees as traditional leaders look on.

Provincial education director Tumisang Thabela presents Kalanga textbooks to School Development Committees as community leaders look on.

Thabela was speaking at the Kalanga primary textbooks launch held at Plumtree High on Friday where about 109 primary schools from Bulilima and Mangwe received Grade 1-7 Kalanga textbooks. Another 113 schools in Matobo and Tsholotsho respectively also received the textbooks consignment at a separate event.

“To school heads, these books will mean nothing to you if you don’t follow the Bill of Rights,” Thabela said.

“You don’t need to be Kalanga to push for the promotion of this language, but all you need is to respect the Kalanga community. It is also up to the Kalanga community to take their language up to examination level.”

Chief Kandana from Bulilima weighed in saying the community was happy that Kalanga would now be taught at schools.

(back row left to right) Dr Mclean J. Bhala, Clement Majahana, Anderson ‘Senegedze”’ Moyo, Tshidzanani T. Malaba, Tshonono Tshuma,  posing for a Photo with Chief Kandana Magutshwa (holding a bag) after the launch of the first series of Kalanga Grade1-7 Text books at Plumtree High School on the 24th January 2014. These and Pax Nkomo (out of picture) were the pioneers of the Kalanga textbook writing project which started in October 2008.

Chief Kandana Magutshwa (holding a bag) surrounded by the pioneers of the Kalanga textbook project which began in 2008. Back row: Dr Mclean J. Bhala, Clement Majahana, Anderson ‘Senegedze”’ Moyo, Tshidzanani T. Malaba; front row: Tshonono Tshuma; Pax Nkomo (out of picture).

Kalanga Language and Cultural Development Association vice-president Maclean Bhala hailed the government for recognising Kalanga as an official language in the Constitution.

Thabela said the unveiling of the books was an indication that the community was regaining its culture, arguing language and culture were inseparable.

“Language is one of the critical elements of culture,” she said. “This is why in the process of changing names (to English) we lost our culture. If you destroy a people’s language you destroy a people.”

She took a swipe at the then Curriculum Development Unit for blatantly excluding several indigenous languages from the school curricula, saying it degraded the culture of most ethnic groups in Matabeleland.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Indigenous Languages Promotion Association (ZILPA) commended government for recognising previously marginalised languages.

“We would like to thank our government for listening to the voice of marginalised communities in the fight for their linguistic rights.

“As language groups we perceive this as the beginning towards democracy and a fight against social exclusion hence we shall push for the advancement of our languages through their teaching,” ZILPA chairperson Maretha Dube said.

She warned teachers not to sabotage the advancement of previously marginalised languages in schools.

Some of the textbook writers and KLCDA leadership posing for a photo after the launch.

Some of the textbook writers and KLCDA leadership posing for a photo after the launch.

Article by Divine Dube, reprinted from The Southern Eye. Bottom two photos by T. Malaba.

Kalanga textbook scheme launched

Updated: January 28, 2014
reprinted from the Chronicle.

file pic

PRIMARY schools in Bulilima and Mangwe Districts have received Kalanga textbooks published by the Kalanga Language and Cultural Development Association (KLCDA). Matabeleland South provincial education director Tumisang Thabela officially launched the textbook scheme in Plumtree and said the Kalanga subject would now be examined at Grade Seven.

While Kalanga has been taught in some schools in Matabeleland South, schools have been facing a challenge of lack of textbooks.

“This launch means that Kalanga is now examinable in schools and this can improve the learning environment for children. As a province we have proved that our schools can perform better once pupils are taught indigenous languages,” said Thabela.

“Pupils were last year examined in Venda language and some of the districts, which had children sitting for the subject such as Beitbridge performed much better compared to previous years.”

Thabela said efforts were under way to produce material for teaching indigenous languages at Early Childhood Development (ECD) level. “We are still facing a challenge of marginalised groups within our province whose languages have not been incorporated,” she  said.

“As a province we have embarked on a  programme to produce material for teaching indigenous languages in schools. We have started producing ECD learning material in Kalanga, Sotho and Venda languages.”

She added: “This will go a long way towards improving the province’s pass rate because one of the reasons why children are failing in primary schools is because they are being taught in languages they do not understand.

“The government has announced that children should be taught in their mother language. I would like to challenge district education officers to implement this agenda.”

Zimbabwe Indigenous Languages Promotion Association (ZILPA) Maretha Dube urged college students to take up Kalanga teaching courses.

“The launch of Kalanga textbooks is the first step towards achieving cultural and linguistic democracy. As an association we are promoting the status of six languages namely Tonga, Nambya, Venda, Kalanga, Sotho and Shangane,” she said.

“The challenge we are facing is that college students are reluctant to take up teaching courses in these languages. At the moment Joshua Mqabuko Polytechnic College only has 16 student teachers specialising in teaching Kalanga.”

Dube added: “We need students who come from these marginalised language speaking communities to take up these studies so that they promote indigenous languages within their communities. “At the same time we need people to be forthcoming and help produce books in these languages.”

The new constitution provides for promotion of teaching of all indigenous languages. KLCDA is a local independent organisation that seeks to promote Kalanga language and culture.

The organisation provided books for Grade one to seven. The books were published under the organisation’s subsidiary Kwalani Publishing House.

The printing of the textbooks was bankrolled by the Education Transition Fund set up by the government in 2009.

“As a province we have embarked on a  programme to produce material for teaching indigenous languages in schools. We have started producing ECD learning material in Kalanga, Sotho and Venda languages.”

KLCDA’s textbook series arrives

Updated: January 29, 2014

THE KALANGA Language and Cultural Development Association (KLCDA) has published primary school textbooks in an effort to step up its campaign to have the language fully introduced in schools in line with the new Constitution.

KLCDA is a local independent organisation that seeks to promote Kalanga language and culture.

Officials told Southern Eye Lifestyle the books for Grade 1-7 were published under the organisation’s subsidiary Kwalani Publishing House and would be officially unveiled to schools at a launch to be held at Plumtree High School today.

The printing of these textbooks catering for schools in Mangwe, Bulilima and Matopo was bankrolled by the Education Transition Fund set up during the coalition government in 2009 under the then Education, Sport, Arts and Culture ministry.

Tshidzanani Malaba, KLCDA secretary, said his organisation envisaged publishing more books to cater for other districts such as Tsholotsho and Gwanda where the language is spoken.

“They have come at the right time when we are not only protected by the Education Act, but by the Bill of Rights in the new Constitution,” Malaba said.

“As an organisation we are willing to partner with the Education ministry so that we educate teachers on how to teach the language. We are happy because the introduction of these languages in the Constitution was overwhelmingly received by all marginalised communities,” he added.

Kalanga has in the past been taught in some of Matabeleland South primary schools.

Kalanga author and language activist Ndzimu-unami Emmanuel Moyo hailed the publication of the books.

“Now that we have a Constitution that recognises Kalanga, it is high time Kalanga authors invested in writing literature that facilitates the teaching of Kalanga in schools. As an author, I would like to write more books to promote Kalanga,” he said.

“I have already set the tone by writing extensively on Kalanga history and I am working on more books to be used in the Kalanga syllabus. I hope in the next five years Kalanga will have been fully introduced in the education system.”

Matabeleland South provincial education director Tumisang Thabela confirmed the unveiling of the textbooks.

“We are definitely going to unveil the textbooks this Friday so that they are distributed to schools,” she said.

By Divine Dube, reprinted from The Southern Sun.

Dictionary project moves forward

Updated: January 28, 2014

Compiled by Stonehouse Maphosa

The much awaited dictionary of Zimbabwean Kalanga is reaching its final stages. The author, Ambassador Mabed Ngulani, held a workshop in Hillside, a Bulawayo suburb, on October 11 to gather input.

More than 500 words were reviewed, translated and defined by the panel of ten.

The meeting was an exciting moment of sharing of some of the baKalanga culture, as the audience enjoyed  ancient Kalanga words like mirijana, gumbutjende, and nsiyangwa.  Active participants were Mr Raphael Bhutshe and Miss Thamani Hikwa.

Kalanga Language and Cultural Development Assn. Secretary Tshidzanani T. Malaba pushed a motion regarding using the alphabet ‘x’ in place of consonants such as ‘h’ in the Kalanga orthography. However, this issue was suggested to be discussed in another meeting yet to be announced.

The workshop ended with a consensus by the panel that the dictionary was eligible for publication

Domboshaba Festival and Tour

Updated: January 28, 2014

The theme of this year’s Kalanga cultural festival in Domboshaba, Botswana was ‘Ikalanga kutanga’ (Kalanga first).

The representatives of Zimbabwe’s Kalanga Language & Cultural Development Association (Tshidzanani Malaba, Arnold Hlomani and Mr Stonehouse Maphosa) attended on September 27 and had the opportunity to go on an executive tour where they were driven to Tjizwina village (now written as Sebina in Setswana).

Domboshaba officials said the name corruption is causing a lot of unease to the locals. In the same locality there is a BB1 (Botswana Boarder 1) old detention room which was used by the Bamangwato to imprison baKalanga who were not willing to submit to their rule in 1940s.

Also part of the tour was ‘Mpani waSeretse’, an ancient tree where Seretse Khama used to take a rest whenever he was in buKalanga area. He used to carry out campaigns among the baKalanga people. The tree was however burnt to ashes in 2011 when government workers protested for salary increment to the current government of Ian Khama.

Nearby is Makuta Village which was a trade centre for baKalanga and the San community. The word “kuta” means to look sad. The name came about because the traders could not communicate with each other due to language barrier between tjiKalanga and the San language.

Traders would sit there quietly until they could identify fellow traders with products of interest. Sign language would be used to seal deal. The San community traded biltong, wild animal hides and wild fruits while baKalanga would trade off grain and tools.

The tour then proceeded to Nswazwi Royal Cemetery where the history of the Nswazwi people was explained dating from 1940s.  Some of the places toured are an ancient cattle kraal and first London Missionary Society School.

The group also saw a natural well called Mantenge an ancient and sacred well which remarkably formed in a granite rock, and is claimed to be home of a legendary spiritual snake ‘nkabayile’.  The well is believed to be 7 to 30 meters deep and it is also suspected to have a horizontal channel that goes under the surface granite.

After the tour, came the main event of the day, the festival, where there was an exhibition of a variety of Kalanga cultural dances, poems, songs and drama. The guest speaker was from University of Botswana, Professor Prof Lydia Nyati-Saleshando.

In her speech she emphasized the need to promote local languages in child development. She hails from marginalized language as well in Botswana and she has been pivotal in voicing for the promotion of marginalized languages even at United Nations forums.

It was made clear that since 1972 Botswana does not allow the teaching of Kalanga language or any other local language in schools except Setswana.

The gathering also assessed the progress made in the promotion of Ikalanga in the past in Botswana. It indicated that there was very little progress from government which has shown no signs of cooperation.

It was also noted that Botswana government has not ratified any United Nations conventions on the promotion of marginalized languages and was not willing to do so.

It was then resolved in part that government must be taken to court over the teaching and learning of Kalanga.

Mr T. Malaba was given the opportunity to speak about how far Zimbabwe has gone constitutionally in recognising minority languages including Kalanga. He outlined the successes of KLCDA ever since it was formed.

These successes include the writing of Kalanga primary books, Zimbabwe constitution written in Kalanga, organising and hosting of cultural festivals and the promotion and recognition of Kalanga language by the Zimbabwean government.

The festival ended with a mouth-watering feast of traditional Kalanga dishes and a little bit of modern food.



Nkomo Polytechnic trains Kalanga teachers

Updated: June 25, 2013

Joshua M. Nkomo Polytechnic is now accepting applications for their September intake from those interested in training as primary school teachers.

The polytechnic is now offering Tjikalanga, in addition to other languages, as part of the Diploma in Education (Primary) course.

The application deadline is July 31.

Vacancies for teacher training at JM Nkomo closing 31 July 2013

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

Batshani Ndaba: Kalanga language on the move in Botswana

Updated: September 24, 2012

By Kibo Ngowi  reprinted from The Monitor/Mmegi Online

There is an old Ikalanga proverb, which says “lulimi tjilenje” (language is culture). This saying captures the centrality of a people’s language to their way of life. It is a point that is not lost on Batshani Ndaba.

A veteran journalist and public relations expert, the single cause to which Ndaba has been consistently committed to in the course of his remarkable life has been that of promoting and preserving the culture of his forefathers and the language that is a central part of it – Ikalanga. Ndaba is the co-founder and National Chairperson of the Society for the Promotion of the Ikalanga Language (SPIL), an organisation whose mandate is to promote and preserve Ikalanga culture, particularly by applying pressure on government to re-introduce the teaching of Ikalanga in Botswana schools. SPIL falls under a wider organisation called the Multi-cultural Coalition of Botswana, which Ndaba describes as an umbrella organisation that combines the efforts of all the organisations that represent marginalised people in the country.

“We realised that if we continued fighting for our rights individually, we could never win, but that together we could apply enough collective pressure on government to ultimately succeed,” says Ndaba.

He served as chairperson of the coalition from 2002 to 2008. However, Ndaba only became known for his virulent cultural activism after he had already made a name for himself as a pioneering journalist and public relations practitioner. Ndaba worked in the government press for 16 years (1971-1987), starting as a reporter and finally reaching the position of Managing Editor of Publications at the Department of Information amp; Broadcasting.

Ndaba may have never gone into journalism had he not been influenced by his uncle, Knight Maripe, who was a journalist who managed to spark the young Ndaba’s interest in writing. Ndaba remembers the day he completed his Form Five at Gaborone Senior Secondary School clearly. It was Friday November 26, 1971. He was immediately sent to start working as a clerk at what was then called the Ministry of Labour amp; Health Services. But Ndaba, already clear in what he wanted to pursue as a career, went to the Department of Information & Broadcasting that same day. The following Monday he began work as a reporter and has never looked back.

Ndaba was fortunate to be amongst the first crop of people to be trained as professional journalists in Botswana.
He earned a certificate in journalism from the African Literature Centre in Kitwe, Zambia. He went on to earn a diploma in journalism from the University of Nairobi in Kenya. He later read for a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication followed by a Master’s Degree in Journalism amp; Public Affairs, both from the American University in Washington, DC. During the same period, Ndaba was also attached to various news agencies and publications, including the Zambia News Agency, the Washington Afro-American newspaper and Reuters News Agency.

Ndaba would discover the ultimate irony when he returned home. He realised that the same institution that had allowed him to receive superior training was not conducive to the practice of what he had learned.
“Unfortunately, the training that is given to journalists in the government media of Botswana is a waste,” says Ndaba. quot;I had a master’s degree in journalism. I was working for government and found out that my training was useless in the environment. I couldn’t apply the principles and the ethics that I had learned in journalism school,” he said.

This disappointing revelation was undoubtedly one of the factors that inspired a move to the private media, taking over as Editor-in-Chief at the Botswana Guardian where he served from 1987 to 1991.  “Working for the government, you follow government policy; you tell people what the government feels the public need to know,” says Ndaba, “There’s a lot of censorship. You don’t tell the story as it is because somebody tells you what you should tell the public. In the private media, you tell it like it is. You’re free to use your own judgement in deciding what is newsworthy. The difference is as vast as night and day.”

In 1992 Ndaba made an even more dramatic move when he was recruited by Debswana to become their first Corporate Communications Manager. He had the onerous task of establishing Debswana’s public relations unit from scratch. Ndaba explains that being in charge of creating a new unit had its advantages and disadvantages.

The advantage was that nobody could tell him what to do so he had a lot of freedom. The disadvantage was that there were no guidelines as to what to do next so it was similar to peddling in darkness, muses Ndaba. Through trial and error, he eventually got the unit up and running and hired Jacob Sesinyi to partner him. Ndaba says that his fondest memory of his time building Debswana’s PR unit is the exposure to the international diamond industry he received. During this time, he visited the De Beers diamond operations in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. He also visited operations in Israel and the De Beers headquarters in London.

All the while, Ndaba was active in promoting Ikalanga culture. In the 1980s he was the editor of a now defunct newspaper, Tjedza (light) which published folklore stories, idioms and all sorts of other things in Ikalanga. More recently he was involved in the establishment of Mukami Action Campaign, a group of Francistown-based writers who produce books, songs and other materials in Ikalanga. Another organisation he founded, Re Teng holds a biannual cultural festival called the Re Teng National Culture Festival. For a long time he served as the chairperson of the organising committee of the annual Domboshaba Festival. His career may boast achievements educationally and professionally in the fields of journalism and public relations but it is clear where Ndaba’s passion truly lies.