Zimbabwe’s indigenous languages face extinction due to lack of incentives for growth, says international development scientist, Dr. Charlton Tsodzo.
Speaking at a conference organized by the U.S Embassy’s Public Affairs Section in Harare on Tuesday, Dr. Tsodzo, who comes from the famous Tsodzo family of Shona writers, said indigenous languages are lagging behind in development to such an extent that some of them face extinction:
Language, he said, “is a tool for meanings and communication that develops a people’s culture. The death of a language means the annihilation of their cultural norms and values.”
Tsodzo said because of changing trends, most people in Zimbabwe no longer worry about using their local languages as they use English on a daily basis.
Companies like Microsoft have started work on software that will incorporate indigenous languages such as Swahili, Hausa, Yoruba, Zulu, Holof and others to take advantage of the more that 150 million Africans that use them while the owners of the languages look down upon them, said Tsodzo
Zimbabwean minority languages include Chewa, Chibarwe, Kalanga, Nambya, Ndau, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda and Xhosa, among others
His organization, Maendeleo, is currently working with some government departments to translate important policy documents into local languages.
A young cultural activist, who also attended the event, Rudombo Tenga said young people are shunning local languages.
Zimbabwe is currently working on a new constitution with political parties still bickering over some sticking issues including the need to make minority languages part of the country’s official languages like Ndebele, Shona and English.
Education Minister David Coltart recently said the government has sourced $9 million to enable local people to write books in indigenous languages which could be used at schools.