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Ikalanga promotion needs focused leaders

CHAKALISA DUBE
Zwibuya group performing at the Domboshaba cultural festival. PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG
KALAKAMATI: A combination of a systematic engagement of government, sacrificing of resources and a visionary leadership is what is needed by Bakalanga if they want to retain their language  (Ikalanga) as one of the primary tools of development, reconciliation and peace in the country.

The observation was made by Tshidzanani Malaba, secretary and co-founding member of the Kalanga Language and Cultural Development Association in Zimbabwe. Malaba was the guest speaker at the Domboshaba Cultural festival on Monday.

He highlighted that the use of Ikalanga was stifled in various key platforms in the country such as the education system. The arrangement he said has resulted in most indigenous knowledge systems that came with the language being lost, ultimately resulting in the language played a very minimal role in various aspects of development of their country.

“Bakalanga (because Ikalanga is marginalised) have lost their identity and suffered from inferiority complex for some years. They have also lost a sense of patriotism and belonging as well as becoming second-class citizens in their country.

It will take an organised way of engaging government as well leaders who are creative thinkers to help revitalise the role of Ikalanga in the development of the country, amongst others.” 

Malaba added, “Do not (Bakalanga) bask on politicians for a way to accelerate the revival and recognition of Ikalanga as one of the instruments that can be used to facilitate development; they are the last people to advocate for sustainable development of the language”. 

He said in Zimbabwe they (Bakalanga) successfully convinced the government to fully embrace the use of the Ikalanga language in key platforms such as in the education

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system and as tool for fostering the development of the country, by placing language ahead of culture in their petitions to the latter (government).

“Language gives birth to culture and never the other way round. The tower of Babel gave birth to languages and cultures followed and varied thereafter.

Because of placing language at the centre of the petition, today, IKalanga is taught in Zimbabwe primary schools, some high schools, two teachers’ colleges and three universities. We are pushing private and public schools to embrace the language in urban settings.” 

In the past (in Botswana), there have been strong suggestions that the education system should be restructured so that students from diverse cultures have an opportunity to learn on an equal footing using their own languages among them Ikalanga.

Various stakeholders have said that teaching in Setswana and English frustrated learning amongst various learners. The government has however been very reluctant to introduce the use of minority languages in schools. 

Malaba also noted that to regain the significant role their language played in past, Bakalanga in Botswana particularly the younger generation, should have passion for the language and take life-serving sacrifices.

“Sit down in various platforms and translate Setswana language syllabus into Kalanga, incentivise teachers or researchers who have deliberate interest in Kalanga, amongst others. This would eventually convince the government to fully embrace the language.”



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