Be proud of indigenous languages: Speaker

SPEAKER of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda

SPEAKER of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda has urged Zimbabweans to value local languages to promote cultural and socio-economic development.

Speaking at the Midlands State University in Gweru on Monday during commemorations of the African Languages Week, Mudenda decried that local languages face extinction as people shun their mother tongue.

“Shame upon us for diluting our languages with English words and expressions,” Mudenda said.

“We are polluting our mother tongue in a very disgraceful manner. Go to Botswana, the Tswanas are proud of their language and it is the same with the Zulus in South Africa.  Back home, we now rarely hear someone finishing a sentence in Shona, IsiNdebele or Tonga without introducing an English word or expression.”

Mudenda added: “Zimbabweans must rise and be proud of their mother tongue. Languages define a people’s ubuntu (humanity), hence the need to preserve them. We ought, therefore, to preserve our indigenous languages, cultures and heritage in a manner that will promote sustainable food security, cultural and socio-economic development.”

He said government should urgently push for the Language Act and formation of a language board to reinforce the national language policy.

“A Language Act must be promulgated in order to legally buttress the national language policy and a robust language board which is inclusive should be established urgently,” Mudenda said.

Speaking at the same event, MSU National Languages Institute executive director Wiseman Magwa said since its commissioning two years ago, the department had made strides in translating national documents such as the Constitution, National Development Strategy 1, COVID-19 awareness campaigns, and the Highway Code, among others, into indigenous languages.

“We are currently working on a very big project to translate science and technology textbooks into Shona and Ndebele. We are going to learn sciences in our mother tongue.  We are walking President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s mantra ‘leaving no one and no place behind’,” Magwa said.

The celebrations were held under the theme African Languages for Sustainable Food Security, Cultural and Socio-economic Development for the Africa We Want.

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