Nqobile Tshili, recently in Buhera
THE Ndebele community in Buhera, Manicaland Province, has commended Government for reintroducing isiNdebele teaching at their local school, saying it is important for cultural preservation.
The people under Chief Gwebu had lobbied for the teaching of isiNdebele at Gwebu Primary School as the learning institution is dominated by the Ndebele community.
A Chronicle news crew visited Chief Gwebu’s area over the weekend and spoke to community leaders, who highlighted the importance of the Ndebele language to them.
Acting Chief Gwebu said he had to engage Government that isiNdebele be taught at Gwebu Primary School in recognition of the language.
In the past, the Ndebele community was forced to send its children to Matabeleland or Midlands for them to continue learning isiNdebele, which was no longer offered in schools under Chief Gwebu.
“We are grateful that after engaging the Government, isiNdebele has been reintroduced at Gwebu Primary School. This is a good development for the preservation of our culture and identity. For instance, some of us only learnt Shona in school as isiNdebele was not being taught here.
My elder brothers are the ones who learnt isiNdebele during the Standard system of grading. Now, we have two teachers that are teaching isiNdebele at Gwebu Primary School and interestingly, it’s not just the children from the Ndebele community that are learning the language, but even the Shona speaking community surrounding us. We have two Ndebele teachers that have been deployed to the school,” said acting Chief Gwebu.
He said the community is, however, concerned that isiNdebele is yet to be taught at secondary school level.
“So, this means our children are not transitioning to secondary level with the language. We have Gwebu Secondary School, but it does not teach isiNdebele and we are in the process of lobbying Government to deploy isiNdebele teachers to our school,” he said.
Gwebu village headman Mr Nicodemus Gwebu said the importance of isiNdebele was laid bare during this year’s community Independence Day commemorations where pupils charmed the community by reciting Ndebele praise poetry.
“This excited even our local Member of Parliament (Cde) Soul Dzuma, who reiterated that we should not let this language die in this area. The children sang the national anthem in isiNdebele and recited several poems during the localised Independence celebrations. We are grateful that our children are not just speaking isiNdebele at home, but also at school because if they only speak it at home away from their peers, the language can easily be distorted as they will not be using it much,” said Mr Gwebu.
Cde Dzuma, Buhera West MP, said he supports the teaching of isiNdebele, not just in the Gwebu area, but the whole constituency.
He said learning of local languages will create national cohesion as opposed to the “us versus them” mentality that was left by the colonial regime.
“I have engaged the District Schools Inspector over the issue of teaching isiNdebele in the Gwebu area as it has Ndebele speaking people, who have their chief and reside mostly in Ward 3.
We don’t want only the Ndebele community to be learning isiNdebele, but we want our people, even those of Shona origin, to learn isiNdebele, as it is one of the national languages. We want more schools to teach isiNdebele in Buhera, as this will help address discrimination and tribalism, a system that was embedded in the colonial system,” he said.
Cde Dzuma said there is a need to promote indigenous languages, as they will enhance communication among citizens.
Primary and Secondary Education Deputy Minister Edgar Moyo said Government was aware of the absence of isiNdebele teachers in Buhera and is working towards addressing it.
“Initially there were teachers, but as the years went by, there was a challenge in recruiting teachers for the school. But we have instructed Manicaland Provincial Education Department to sort out that issue. Because without the teaching of the local language, it means the language, culture and tide of the local people was dying. So, teachers have been recruited at primary level and work is being done that they are recruited at secondary level,” said Deputy Minister Moyo.
He said Government is recruiting isiNdebele teachers for the Gwebu area in line with the national policy that no community and place should be left behind. “So, we are reaching out to every community as no one and no place should be left behind, as enunciated by President Mnangagwa,” he said. – @nqotshili.