A language revolution within the country is needed for it to attain First World Status sooner than later.
Swaziland National Council of Arts and Culture (SNCAC) Chief Executive Officer Stanley Dlamini highlighted this during the Mother Tongue Commemoration which was held at the MacMillan premises in Matsapha last week
He noted how developed and successful countries use their own native languages to conduct business as well as teach at their schools from primary level all the way to tertiary. He said it was imperative to embrace that the only way to move forward as a nation was to make the indigenous language the primary communication medium before other languages.
He made an example saying Vietnam was colonised by various countries which forced them to speak their own languages making them official in the country. He said after the country gained independence and noted how the foreign languages were used; a decision was made for native languages to be made official, resulting in the country making great strides in development and economic progression.
He said though the constitution allowed for two official languages, namely English and Siswati, the local language was overtaken by the foreign as people chose thinking it was sophisticated.
Echoing Dlamini’s sentiments was South African Guest, Lugebhuta High School Teacher Petros Shongwe, who said it was amazing how the Japanese had increased their manufacturing portfolio after resorting to use their own language as a medium of instruction from primary through tertiary.
He lamented the way parents preferred the English medium schools at the expense of government schools due to the mentality entrenched in them that they are better as they instruct in English. Knocking the use of the English language in places like courts, he said at times the interpreters failed to interpret to the proper understanding of the accused at times to their detriment, as they then got sentenced for crimes they didn’t do simply because of limited understanding.
He said the service delivery protests in South Africa were due to failure to understand what is expected of the different councils as these meetings are done in English with few really completely comprehending what is happening.
Macmillan director said it was important that the nation keeps its identity by holding onto the language of its birth and knowing it well.
She said even if one knows English very well, they should take pride in the language of their birth and aspire to speak it fluently and correctly at all times. Highlighting how only a concerted effort will succeed, she said it was important to note that it was not a singular person’s job as everybody has to pitch in and contribute to the revival of the language of the Swazi nation.
People get angry better in siSwati - DPM
“The country needs to preserve its own language,” the Deputy Prime Minister Paul Dlamini said during the commemoration of the mother tongue held at Macmillan.
He said the country should thank God for the language it uses as it was God given adding that it is the glue that holds it together. He lamented the decline in its use saying it was unfortunate as His Majesty King Mswati III encouraged the use of the language as well as culture. He said no matter how learned a person is, the minute they are angry, they are able to articulate that better in siSwati.
He praised siSwati song writers for the efforts they made in telling the country’s stories in song, adding that the language was not only nice to listen to, but it was also better to speak.
...Siswati dying a slow death - Inspector Mohamed
It has been noted that the siSwati language is not growing as other languages as it is optional for children at school level.
This was one of the stumbling blocks noted during the commemoration of the Mother Tongue day at Macmillan premises last week.
SiSwati Inspector Celiwe Mohamed said the school’s guidelines succinctly state that pupils should not be beaten for speaking the language at schools as it allows them to know their own language.
She said this act which has been happening over the years reduced the teachers of the language as it became somewhat shameful to admit that one taught it with the stigma attached to it.
“It came to a point where we realised that it meant that we were the ones being punished whenever the children were beaten for speaking their mother tongue at schools. We are glad that times have changed and we wish all schools could adhere to this guideline and allow the children within the schools to speak siSwati,” Mohammed said.
She went on to state that as teachers they were aggrieved about the poor results as out of the over 13 000 pupils who sat for their school leaving certificates, only 281 obtained As which is very low.
She said teaching children from pre-school level in English narrowed their range of words they use to communicate in their mother tongue. She commended the language and culture debates that have been held in the past adding that a siSwati dictionary was anticipated in the near future.
Meanwhile University of Swaziland Vice Chancellor Professor Cisco Magagula said it was important for the country to embrace its language as it made problem solving easier. He said those taught in foreign languages absorbed their learning slower and in the end got labelled as slow learners whereas it is not their usual mode of communication. He said studies showed that a person learned better using their own language as the case in Ghana and Tanzania where a language revolution has taken place. He said those who were punished for speaking siSwati ended up hating the language and it was time to fix past mistakes. He said for development to take place, all children should learn their mother tongue, while adult education should take place in the same language.