I want to share something with you. To some, this is going to seem a bit crazy but hey, I’m allowed to have an opinion right? Mai Chisamba would say “Ah, ndomafungiro avo, toenda pana umwe.” (“That’s what they think, let’s move on to the next person.”)
So I was walking to work the other day right, (yes. WALKING. Cause I live like 30 minutes away from where I work), and as I do every day, I passed by the fence of Gateway Primary School. I don’t remember why but I was in a really bad mood that day, walking like a zombie, not really paying attention to what was happening around me. I was beyond absent minded. Then I heard a small voice saying “Pamusoroi. Pamusoroi. Ndiri kukumbirawo kutambidzwawo bhora iro.” (Excuse me. Excuse me. May you please pass me that ball?) There was something about that voice that was just so sincere I had to look up. I got the shock of my life when I saw thatthe source of the voice was a white kid!! O_O He was probably somewhere between 8 And 10 years of age. I’ll be honest, I’m no saint. I would have walked away on the spot, especially considering the mood I was in that morning. But how many times do you hear a white kid in primary school speak proper Shona? To me that was really unusual and intriguing more than anything. I took time to throw him his cricket ball back, and continued on my way.
Now this may seem like just an ordinary event (yes, I call it an event!), but to me this was more than just that. I was no longer in a bad mood. I was now thinking. Kids these days are learning English as early as pre-school, and I’m sure the majority of people in Zimbabwe who have had at least some form of education have the ability to communicate in English. The people who live uptown use English more than the people from downtown.I will go as far as saying Zimbabweans take pride in the ability to speak English, because apparently this shows that you are educated at least. But do we take the same pride in our native language?
Zimbabwe has 3 main languages, Ndebele, Shona and English (2nd language for most Zimbabweans). Shona branches into several dialects, the likes of ChiZezuru, ChiNdau, ChiVhitori, ChiTonga, etc. The most commonly used dialect is ChiZezuru. The other dialects are slowly becoming somewhat extinct and this is because they are not getting the recognition they should. They are not even catered for in the education curriculum. ZIMSEC only offers English, Ndebele and Shona for languages. They also offer French but very few people sit for it.
For me, this is where the problem lies. Recognition. We ignore the very stuff that defines us and we try and be somebody we are not. I would have loved to write this piece in my native language, Shona, but I am trying to reach out to a wider audience. I guess I am a slave to the system in a way. Have you ever seen Francoise Hollande, the French President, addressing people at a European Union convention or something like that?? Dude uses French ALWAYS. Angela Merkel, the German Prime Minister, uses German. They have translators who relay the message to everybody else. I dream of a day when our own leaders can do something like that. Use isiNdebele or ChiShona at some international conference, with translators and all.
I have got NOTHING against English. I mean come on, it’s the “official” language of communication worldwide. It is easy to learn and use. Oh yeah and like I mentioned earlier, it makes you sound learned, or sophisticated in a way.It’s all good. But can we at least be proud of our own native languages while we’re at it? I have overheard teens in Zimbabwe talking and even had conversations with some of them. I have to say, I got the impression that if you use Shona excessively around them, then they label you “backward”. They actually use the word “gwashy”, I don’t know how they came up with that but apparently it means “lame”. Really? Can’t one just enjoy their native tongue and not feel ashamed of using it?I am a hip-hop artist and the art is rising significantly in Zimbabwe. There is this common misconception that if you rap in Shona then you are not a “true” hiphop artist. I think that is a really stupid thing to say. I think people can use whatever language they want to rap, if they want to use their native language then the better. They take pride in their identity at least. By saying this I’m not I am not denouncing those that use English, I am just saying they should not denounce Shona or Ndebele rappers. For the record however, I will say this…I enjoy spitting Shona bars more than I do English ones. Shona poetry is off the chain. And even though I can’t hear what they are saying half the time, I think Ndebele rappers are sick!! I plan on learning Ndebele sometime, it fascinates me, the clicks and all.
I would have written more on this but I got carried away fantasizing. In my fantasy Zimbabwe was a whole new country. Business contracts were in Shona/Ndebele, road signs, court transcripts you name it!! Even at the airport there were signs that read “Kwekusvikira” and “Kwekukwirira” in place of the usual “Arrivals” and “Departures” respectively. “Ngena Lapha” and “Phumani Lapha” instead of the usual “Entrance” and “Exit” signs. Wow. That was one hell of a fantasy huh?
All I’m trynna say is be proud of your native language hey. Do not shun nor despise your native tongue. Use it with pride, it is who you are. I have met white people who speak Shona with so much glee you feel jealous like “damn! That’s my language yo!! L “. So the Queen’s language is the most used language worldwide. Big deal. I can’t change that. We all need it for when we want to communicate with people from foreign countries. Can you at least show some love for your own language?? With that being said, can we get somebody to translate the Zimbabwe National Anthem into the less commonly used Shona dialects? Not necessary? Ok. Bye.
Written by Sharky