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Can Shona be added to South Africa's official languages?

by Staff reporter
08 Jun 2022 at 11:52hrs | Views
Zimbabwe's Shona language stands a good chance of being recognised as one of South Africa's national language.

Millions of Shonas have invaded South Africa.

Two submissions have been made to the South African Parliament to consider Khilovedu and Kiswahili to be next in line to receive official language status in the country.

This was revealed by the joint constitutional review committee after it received a presentation on submissions made last year to amend the Constitution.

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This comes hot on the heels of the Cabinet deciding that sign language should be an official language after submissions were made to Parliament over the years.

In a statement, the committee said it received submissions that Khilovedu and Kiswahili be recognised as official languages in South Africa.

Kiswahili is the national language of Kenya and Tanzania and has received more recognition in many Arian countries.

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Khilovedu is a language spoken in the country and is linked with the kingdom ruled by the Rain Queen.

It has featured over the years in the submissions made to the committee.

Khilovedu was among the 15 submissions received in 2015 when the Holy Faith Mission Evangelical Church asked that it be designated as an official language.

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Mathole Motshekga, co-chairperson of the joint committee, said they would call on members of the public and other stakeholders to make inputs every year regarding any constitutional amendments they deem necessary.

The statement said Motshekga had on Friday alluded to Parliament's commitment to the UNESCO resolution declaring 2022 the year of indigenous languages.

He also recognised the aspirations of those South Africans whose languages have been suppressed for centuries.

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"This demonstrates that Africa and the international community are fully supportive of the aspirations of our people to regain their lost culture, heritage and languages.

"Therefore, as this Parliament we cannot be found wanting on ensuring that we use the structures of this Parliament to deliver on our mandate," he said.

According to the statement, the Kara Heritage Institute has said that recognising Kiswahili as an official language would promote Pan Africanism and the African cultural renaissance.

"The Kara Institute is already liaising with Southern African Development Community countries to promote Kiswahili and to offer classes in it. Hence, the institute has a keen interest in Kiswahili achieving official status," the statement read.

The statement also noted a 2020 parliamentary legal opinion that as part of its constitutional mandate had indicated the factors that need to be considered before Khilovedu designation as an official language could occur.

"These include various practical and legal issues, as well as sensitivity to the rights of minorities and the important role these cultures play in enriching the fabric of our nation," it said.

Motshekga said languages were the mainstay of a peoples' art, culture and heritage and encapsulated the soul of a people.

"The recognition and mainstreaming of indigenous languages reconstructs and develops the soul, while restoring people's worth and dignity. Last, but not least, South Africa and her sister African countries are seized with the major task of building socially cohesive nations.

"The African Union theme for 2021 said that arts, culture and heritage are levers for building the Africa we want. Thus, the domestication of Kiswahili in South Africa will facilitate cultural and socio-economic integration of the SADC region and the continent as a whole," he said.

Source - Cape Times
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