CHIPAWO celebrates mother tongues


THERE is an entwined relationship between language and culture where one represents the other.
Language is used as a way of signalling identity with one cultural group and difference from others.
Due to globalisation, it has become trendy in Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa to teach children a foreign language and completely ignore the mother tongue.
Parents pay exorbitant fees so that their children learn the ways and language of the ‘dominant’ culture in the process creating an identity crisis resulting in the loss of vital traditions.
On May 16 2007, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in its resolution called upon member states, “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world.”
And February 21 was set as the day to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.
The date represents the day in 1952 when Bangladesh students demonstrated for recognition of the Bangla language and were shot and killed by police in Dhaka.
Chipawo will join in the celebrations this Saturday at the Zimbabwe College of Music in Harare.
“On Friday February 21 we will have a cultural exchange programme between Chipawo youth and a visiting group from Sweden,” Chipawo communications manager Chipo Basopo said.
“This will be followed by the mother tongue commemorations on Saturday.”
Chipawo’s line-up will include presentation of plays, recitation of totemic praises, children’s song games, nursery rhymes, lullabies and story-telling all in the mother tongue.
The programme will also have children from various diplomatic missions making presentations in their mother tongues.
The totem culture is slowly disappearing as more parents embrace modern religions that discourage this cultural connection.
Languages are currently disappearing at an accelerated rate due to the processes of globalisation and neo-colonialism, where the economically powerful languages and cultures dominate.
The more commonly spoken languages such as English are dominating the less commonly spoken, raising fears that they will eventually disappear from populations.
There are more than 16 languages spoken in Zimbabwe.
These include Shona, Ndebele, Kalanga, Ndau, Chibarwe, English, Koisan, Nambya, Chewa, Shangani, Shona, Xhosa, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda and sign language. 
However, the more widely-used languages in Zimbabwe are Shona, Ndebele and English.
This year’s International Mother Language Day commemorations will run under the theme, ‘Local Languages for Global Citizenship: Spotlight on Science’.


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