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When Rosemary walked down the aisle with her husband Takunda a decade ago, the couple moved to the United Kingdom where they both secured employment.

The couple was later blessed with a baby boy, Tawonga.

Unlike other Diasporans, Rosemary and Takunda made it a point to teach Tawonga to speak Shona and Ndebele.

During school holidays, Tawonga would return to Zimbabwe and spend time in the rural areas so that he could learn his culture as well as interact with the local people.

However, despite all the efforts, Tawonga could not even properly pronounce a Shona word and even had difficulties pronouncing his name.

Rosemary and Takunda are not the only couple in this predicament. A South African poet and musician, Ntsiki Mazwa, slams the culture of coping other people’s languages and ideology.

“I want to raise black children that take pride in what they look like. I want my kids to be role models and celebrities who do not wear other people’s hair.”

He adds: “You prefer white neighbourhoods and look down on places where there are many blacks, you laugh at blacks who don’t know English and call them backward, and you even replaced your pan-African anthem with the one they killed you with.

“The importance of indigenous languages is underlined in Zimbabwe’s Constitution which recognises 16 major local languages. The previous one only recognised Shona, Ndebele and English as the country’s official languages.

Section 6 (1) of the Constitution recognises Chewa, Chibarwe, English, Kalanga, Koisan, Nambya, Ndau, Ndebele, Shangani, Shona, sign language, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda and Xhosa as the official languages of Zimbabwe. Education officer (arts and culture) for MbareHatfield district Mrs Spiwe Jiri hailed efforts being made by the media in promoting local languages.

“Minority languages have been marginalised for a long time and it is high time various media organisations take a leading role in promoting them. Thanks to Kwayedza which has been at the forefront of supporting our mother language since 1985. The enormous contribution by Kwayedza is reflected by the high pass rate in the Shona Grade 7 Zimsec examinations as well as Ordinary and Aanced Level,” she said.

Kwayedza runs several educational columns such as Denhe Reruzivo, Detemba Tinzwe, ChiShona Chakanaka and Tsika Nemagariro. In these columns, pupils are given tips on how to tackle or pass examinations. Writer Ignatius Mabasa said it is sad that some people shun indigenous languages such as Shona and Ndebele.

“I am earning a living because of this language (Shona) that some local people fail to appreciate. I have written several novels and poems that are used as education material in schools and I am proud of that,” he said.

It is saddening, he added, that there are some who prefer to speak in English yet they struggle to pronounce the words correctly. Mr Oliver Maboreke, who is based in Australia, said he and fellow Zimbabweans living Down Under have since formed Shona tutorial groups with a view to promoting the language.

A Form 4 pupil at Alpha Institute in Mutare, Shingai Manyengavana, who recently won an award in Kwayedza’s Detemba Tinzwe competition, also hailed the tabloid for nurturing pupils in poetry writing. Kwayedza Editor Patrick Shamba said his paper’s main thrust was to promote Zimbabwe’s culture through Shona which happens to be one of the 16 national languages.

“We feel we can play a big role in promoting Shona writing skills among schoolchildren and this is why Zimpapers, under the Kwayedza banner, organises and sponsors competitions like Detemba Tinzwe.”

He called on parents and schools to encourage children to use national languages saying language was key in any country’s developmental programme.

Shamba cited countries like Asian giants China and Japan as good examples of how national language can play a key role in development.

Source : The Herald