Chief backs teaching of Tonga in schools


CHIEF Siansali has rallied behind the teaching of Tonga in schools and said there is nothing tribal about the issue as it was an effort by the Tonga to reclaim their language which had been diluted by other languages in the country.

Richard Muponde
Senior Reporter

In an interview yesterday, Chief Siansali said the launch of textbooks and the teaching of Tonga from primary school up to secondary level was a great achievement.

“That translates into the teaching of our proper language and the preservation of our culture. Our language had been diluted by foreign languages and was about to be extinct,” he said.

“The Tonga, which is now being taught, is very original.

“Our children will now be examined in the language they speak at home, which is a welcome development.”

The chief urged people from other districts not to view the Tonga as tribalists, but a people who wanted to keep their identity.

“There’s nothing tribal about reclaiming your language,” he said. “Some tribes should not be aggrieved.

“There’s none who can reclaim our language besides ourselves.”

In September last year, Binga Rural District Council pulled a shocker after it passed a resolution banning the teaching of Ndebele in council schools in a move it said was aimed at promoting Tonga language and preserving traditional values.

Binga is predominantly inhabited by the Tonga ethnic group.

The council’s decision was taken after the community allegedly raised concerns about the death of their language and values in the district as some primary schools were said to be teaching five subjects to accommodate Ndebele.

In 2011, a major milestone was achieved when Tonga was officially tested in the Grade 7 exams for the very first time.

Chief Siansali said he welcomed the launch of a series of Tonga textbooks for primary and secondary education called ChiTonga Bwanachilo and Lusumpuko series, aimed at preserving traditional values.

The books were launched in October last year in Binga at an event organised by Tonga Languages Committee, an organisation which champions the preservation of the Tonga culture.

A women’s empowerment activist, who last year received a special mention from United States President Barack Obama, Abbigail Muleya, was part of the textbooks programme, as a translator.