‘Africa must reclaim its languages, cultural values’

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BY TENDAI SAUTA/OBERT SIAMILANDU
NATIONAL gallery of Zimbabwe executive director Raphel Chikukwa says Africa should reclaim  its languages and cultural values without being apologetic about it.

Chikukwa made the remarks ahead of the forthcoming two-day hybrid AfroCuration mentorship programme to be hosted by National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) and its partner Moleskine Foundation tomorrow and Thursday.

The AfroCuration mentorship programme caters for youths from colleges and universities aged below 28 years interested in learning how to tell African stories through Wikipedia.

“AfroCuration programme is part of the pan-African project that seeks to empower African youth via Wikipedia using African languages. Ignoring your own language is self-hate and this must not continue, let us repatriate our own languages now,” Chikukwa said.

“Africa is pregnant with so many languages that have been left to die because of colonial languages.

“The liberation struggle was not only about political and economic independence but about cultural independence.”

“For the repatriation of our own languages, we do not need diplomatic channels or the government to negotiate with the Westerners who took our languages using their colonial project.

“When they reduced our languages to pagan languages that inflicted scars on our languages that should be healed by us as a people.”

He added: “Colonial schools that have been left to continue with the colonial project must be reminded that it is time to repatriate our own languages now.

“If we continue as if its business as usual then we will be failing founding fathers of the African liberation movement.”

“Our street names are in colonial languages and the long and dark past that these names carry is ignored.

“When they spread their languages across Africa and other colonised countries, they are spreading their cultures and values.”

Chikukwa said it was the time of indoctrination of the new youthful generation about local languages.

“We lost what we had firmly gripped and held as ours because of the begging hand that was clapping to receive new things. Some now find it retrogressive or backward to speak in their own languages,” he said.

“Schools and colleges should lead by example in the quest for language restoration, repatriation and restitution.”

The AfroCuration mentorship programme will be held under the theme: Who we Are, featuring influential speakers in the arts and culture sector.

In a joint statement, the event organisers also said participants should be able to write articles in Shona, Ndebele, Tonga, Nambya and other lunguages.

The event will also focus on writing and editing Wikipedia articles about repatriation of African artifacts held by the West, decolonising heritage, myths and realities about being African.

“The African story has to be told by Africans. It is also important for young participants to engage at a lower level of the debates about repatriation and restitution of African cultural objects,” read the statement in part.

“Young minds will also be mentored into writing and editing articles on the issues, painting, sculpture, dance and music, literature and theatre.”

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