Home » General » Time We Redefined Indigenisation [opinion]

I am of the view that we should start the indigenisation battle with our language and culture. Who is indigenous and who is not? What is it that is indigenous about us? Our language is English.

Our schooling is English. Our mannerisms are English. Our women’s hairstyles portray a g desire to be white and English. You cannot train at a tertiary institution unless you have passed English.

There was a time when you could not even be hired to drive a government vehicle unless you had passed English at “O” Level. I will not comment on how our judges, mayors and so on dress for their important offices. I admired King Sobuza.

You may be wondering what I am really on about. I prefer to ask the questions and you the readers give me the answers. What is your name? What is indigenous about it? What is the language you are reading right now?

The only newspapers which try to cater for Zimbabweans are Kwayedza and Umthunywa. I read every page of the Standard, Newsday and Financial Gazettee but what do I lose in the process? We pretend that we are proficient in English, but are we really? Would information be better understood if it was given in the mother language of the person?

Each decade has someone who speaks broken English that we all make fun of.

The older among you will remember how some people made fun of Chief Chirau (may his soul rest in peace). We moved to someone else and right now, we love to laugh at a respectable member of our society who prefers the mother tongue. Are we less Zimbabwean if we cannot speak flawless English?

Are we less human if we cannot mimick the English accent?

I have cases or issues to present. Your child starts to develop language skills from just over a year old and by the time he or she is four, English is thrust upon the child.

All learning from then on is in English. The child who hardly knows enough Ndebele, Tonga or Shona has to learn English at the same time and not only that, but also learn everything else in English. Why do we burden our children? Who benefits from this language burden?

We all dream in our mother tongue. New things come from these dreams. Is it any wonder that we cannot design anything new because we learn in English and continue to dream in our mother language.

There is a contradiction in our brains. There is chaos. The flowering idea is stifled when we wake up and try to be more English than the English. Our friends, the Chinese teach and write in Chinese, the Malaysians in Malay, the Dutch in Dutch, the Germans in German.

Where are they as far as development is concerned? The Europeans borrowed words they did not have from neighbouring countries and adapted them or used them as they were.

Rendevous is good example. Are we forbidden from borrowing words which do not exist in our languages and use them in our language? I cannot imagine why we borrowed “voetsek bastardised to futseki” and not jogirafi for Geography. For interest’s sake, have you ever heard foreigners speaking among themselves in English if they are from China, Germany, Japan or Sweden?

I lived and worked with them. They switched to English for my benefit and spoke among themselves in their own language. What puzzles me most is the wish in us to be English. Is there some psychological damage that occurred during the colonial era that we cannot break away from?

Were we made to feel so inferior that we rejected everything that was ours? I am often amused by people who swallow hundreds of pills and will not swallow ginger [tsangamidzi]. They claim that their churches do not allow them. I have no idea which bible they read.

We address gatherings in communal areas in English and yet the majority in the audience have a rudimentary understanding of English. Our message is lost.

Is it any wonder that our mother languages have not developed enough to be usable in teaching sciences or mathematics? Where are the indigenous authors who can write a mathematics textbook in a local language eg Shona with words such as adhisheni [addition], dhivhizheni [division], furakisheni [fraction] etc? I will start working on a Grade 1 book soon. What are we wasting our brains on? WhatsApp?

One might think, I hate the English people and their language. Goodness, no.

I just cannot understand how we have assimilated other people’s language and made it our own at a great cost to our national dignity and culture.

No country develops as long as it thinks in a foreign language. No new ideas will come as long as we think in a foreign language. We can only be copycats, pretenders to the throne.

Source : Zimbabwe Standard