Indigenous language policy on the cards 

Source: Indigenous language policy on the cards – #Asakhe – CITE

Efforts are being made to come up with a language policy that will promote the use of all the 15 indigenous languages in the country.

Zimbabwe constitution amendment number 20 of 2013 identified 16 official languages which are now being taught in schools, particularly in specific indigenous languages local area.

The 16 languages are Chewa, Chibarwe, ChiShona, English, Kalanga, Khoisan, Nambya, Ndau, IsiNdebele, Shangani, Xhosa, Sign Language, Sesotho, Tonga, Tswana and Venda.

However, there is marginalisation of some of the languages that are regarded as minority and various stakeholders are pushing for a deliberate policy for the promotion of these indigenous languages at household level and in schools.

Speaking at the national languages conference that started in Victoria Falls yesterday, various presenters said indigenous languages are key in making sure people participate in national programmes and implementation of the development agenda.

National Language Institute executive director Professor Wiseman Magwa said it is embarrassing that Zimbabweans are discussing whether or not indigenous languages should be official languages or medium of instruction in education 42 years after independence.

“Zimbabwe as a nation has experienced foreign invasion and power domination from 1890 with the result that the colonial powers superimposed their languages over already existing indigenous languages,” he said.

Prof Magwa said attempts have been made by colonial governments to suppress the indigenous languages and relegate them to the confines of the informal sector.

Even after independence, some languages have been marginalised and this is a cause for lack of unity and development in the country, experts say.

“We need to seriously think and plan for the 99 percent of the population that speak the 15 indigenous languages. Language is a right and national resource. Let’s not underrate indigenous languages, they are very important. You can only penetrate people’s minds through their language,” he said.

Hillside Teachers’ College principal Linda Sibindi said learners in schools should be made to learn more than one indigenous language other than their home language.

“We need to invest time and effort to develop our languages. If government messages are not put in indigenous languages they will go a long way in making sure people are part and parcel of national
development,” said Sibindi.

Lupane State University lecturer Dr Busani Maseko said nationhood and unity are borne out of language diversity.


  • comment-avatar
    Zimbobo 2 weeks ago

    Yup…. And our future students are most definitely going to be able to communicate with the rest of the business world in Chewa, Chibarwe, ChiShona, Kalanga, Khoisan, Nambya, Ndau, IsiNdebele, Shangani, Xhosa, Sign Language, Sesotho, Tonga, Tswana and Venda.

    It’s time Africa realised it is part of a GLOBAL village and not a LOCAL village. Our kids want to be able yto travel, do business with the international community. For this, they need to be fluent in English. Even the Chinese are learning English as it is the preferred language of business & travel.

  • comment-avatar
    J. Matabeleland 2 weeks ago

    Zimbobo – you forgot Afikaans and Chilapalapa!( not strictly traditional I know – but still there). Absolutely correct. By all means preserve and encourage the use of our local or tribal languages, but these will never be of any use on the global stage across which we Zimbos are going to stride. Like it or not, the language agreed to by almost all significant world agencies is ENGLISH !. Commerce, navigation, aviation, science etc. When the business is on a global forum, English is the “go too” communication. We used to have this language taught to ALL children until age 13. Most of us could understand and be understood anywhere English was spoken and in many places where this was only a second tongue. Zimbos could be part of the conversation. Try that with any of the offerings of this new radical educational initiatve.