San prepare for Mother Language Day celebrations


THE SAN people in Tsholotsho have started preparations for commemorating the International Mother Language Day set for next month, as they fight to save their language, which is on the brink of extinction.


Tsoro-o-otso Development Trust director Davy Ndlovu yesterday said preparations were at an advanced stage to mark the date.

“International Mother Language Day has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism,” he said.

Ndlovu said on the day they will be launching the first-ever Tshwao language resource training booklet.

“With no orthography for the language, it has been very difficult to document it.”

The International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation in November 1999.

Ndlovu paid tribute to a number of the San elders who passed away last year, saying they were instrumental in the revival of the San language.

“As we commemorate this day, we would like to honour two great San language leaders who passed away last year,” he said.

“Gogo Motshwa Moyo, thought to have been over a 100 years old, passed away at beginning of 2014.

“Motshwa, with her vast knowledge of San history and her command of Tshwao, ws the driving force in the Tshwao language revival programme.

“Her death left a huge void and she is sadly missed by the entire San communities.”

Ndlovu said another San elder who passed on was Moffat Banini Moyo. He died in mid-2014.

“He was the first San to visit the capital city, UZ (University of Zimbabwe) in particular for the first-ever Tshwao language transcription,” he said.

“While some elders were sceptical in visiting the busy city, Banini braved it and travelled all the way from Tsholotsho, passing through Bulawayo and up to Harare.”

Tshwao speaking people are found mainly in Tsholotsho and Plumtree, Matabeleland region.