Shangaan speakers stand up

A group of Shangaan-speaking locals from the southeastern region has formed a pressure group here that seeks to promote the minority language back home.

Machangana Yaka Gaza (Shangaans from Gaza) recently held a ceremony that was attended by three paramount chiefs of the Zimbabwean Shangaan communities: HosiTshovani, HosiChitanga and HosiSengwe.

Also present at the event were representatives from the University of Venda and Turfloop African Languages department, South African Shangaan musician, Thomas Chauke, and chiefs from South African Shangaan communities.

Godfrey Mabunda, the group’s chairman, said their aim, was to incorporatethe XiTsonga/Shangaan language in the local school curriculum, harness the efforts of Shangaans home and abroad for local development and bring together custodians of Shangaan culture for cultural exchange and reinforcement.

“The indaba was a good starting point for South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to work together in the fight for their rights,” said MarethaDube, the national chairperson of Zimbabwe indigenous languages promotion association.

“Our objectives are to lobby the government, especially in cultural and multilingual countries, to guarantee the teaching f marginalised languages, including Shangaan. We also want to rally minority groups to fight for their cultural rights.” Mabunda said Shangaan people’s pride in their language and culture had been “severely affected”, hence the need for renewal.

“Our children do not learn Shangaan at school. They are forced to learn either Shona or Ndebele and we want to address this shortfall by lobbying the government, particularly the education department,” he said.

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