‘San people ignorant of their language’


LANGUAGE activist Davy Ndlovu has bemoaned the neglect of the San language, saying only a handful of the 2 500 San people in the southern part of Zimbabwe can fluently speak the language, with the majority switching to Ndebele and Kalanga.


Ndlovu, who is director of Tsoro-o-otso Development Trust, accused the government of contributing to the neglect of the language by refusing to resuscitate the San chieftainship.

The San people are mostly found in Tsholotsho and Plumtree.

“The San do not participate in local decision-making processes and this is demonstrated by the low number of people in traditional structures. There are only six village heads among the San communities, yet the law stipulates that a village heads preside over 100 households. Given that the San population is slightly higher and that most households have an average of three people, their village heads should be between 10 and 20,”he said.

“There is no headman or chief among the San communities. Without a headman or chief, it means access to traditional justice system for the San people is zero,” Ndlovu said.

“It is, therefore, critical that authorities at community, district, provincial and national levels be lobbied to consider the revival of the San paramount chieftainship. This is in line with section 280 of the Constitution which reads: “A traditional leader is responsible for performing the cultural, custom and traditional functions of a chief, head person or village head as the case maybe…”

He said the installation of a San chief will link them with government structures and will offer the San community traditional representation.

Ndlovu said in Tsholotsho and Bulilima districts, the San have been acculturated into the Ndebele way of life, therefore, discarding their own culture and language.


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