Late Mpofu was very particular with use of isiNdebele

11 Jun, 2022 - 00:06 0 Views
Late Mpofu was very particular with use of isiNdebele Mr Isaac Nyandeni Mpofu

The Chronicle

Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
IN his lifetime, Mr Isaac Nyandeni Mpofu was very particular about the isiNdebele language and all his life he taught the language through stories written in deep isiNdebele.

Mr Mpofu died at the age of 90 at United Bulawayo Hospitals due to renal failure more than a week ago and was buried next to his late wife, Martha Nhliziyo at his farm in Worringham, along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge highway.

United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH)

Mr Mpofu was known for his signature isiNdebele novel Wangithembisa Lami, a story about heartbreak and love that ends in tragedy.

He said during an interview with Khulumani FM in 2018 that he wrote the book when he was whiling up time in 1957.

Mr Mpofu said he wanted to write in isiNdebele to preserve the language.

He however, said Wangithembisa Lami was not his favourite book but Sithini isiNdebele that was published in 2012 as it tackles the issue of many mispronounced words and wrong expressions that have become the norm.

Expressions such as Ngifuna ukubekwazi ukuthi lokhu lalokhu angikuthandi is wrong.

The correct expression is Ngifuna wazi ukuthi or kumele uyazi indawo, not ubeyazi indawo.

The late Mr Mpofu was a devout Christian who attended Brethren In Christ Church and used his love for isiNdebele language to translate the Holy Bible from isiZulu.

He was a choir master at his church and he was passionate about praising the Almighty in isiNdebele.

Ms Nokuthula Ndlovu, who interviewed Mr Mpofu during her programme “Once upon a Time” on Khulumani FM said he was a perfectionist.

“He wanted people to speak the language properly and would also help you do so especially the young.

When you greet him and say, sakubona baba, he didn’t want you to say salibonani baba.

Then after saying sakubona baba, you don’t say anything else, you don’t say linjani or kunjani, he would correct you saying that’s not correct isiNdebele.

Because you can’t ask your elder how they are,” said Ms Ndlovu.

She said Mr Mpofu loved sharing knowledge about the isiNdebele language.

“He loved the isiNdebele language with all his heart and his wish was that it doesn’t die in our generation.

He would say we should correct people when they make a mistake in pronouncing or expressing the language,” said Ms Ndlovu.

She said Mr Mpofu made it easy for her to learn isiNdebele through the books he wrote.

“I learnt isiNdebele and his books had rich language and they helped a lot as he was a good writer.

He would say, as a writer one should know well the location of the places he or she writes about,” said Ms Ndlovu.

News presenter and blogger Miss Merilyn Ngwenya said through Mr Mpofu’s books such as Wangithembisa Lami, she learnt a lot.

Wangithembisa Lami

“His books had life lessons as he made it clear that whatever you do has consequences. I was the one who always read his books for the class.

It really helped me fall in love with the isiNdebele language.

“This helped me to be the newsreader that I am right now. Unfortunately, I didn’t meet him but he really impacted my life in a very big way.

I’m proud to be so proficient in isiNdebele.

It’s a skill that I learnt and if you are in a parents’ WhatsApp group, they always ask for answers to isiNdebele homework and I know,” said Miss Ngwenya.

Mr Amon Dube Nyamambi, a veteran broadcaster, said Mr Mpofu was hard at work trying to use his books to teach people the right language.

“Our children no longer know the isiNdebele language and they have adopted foreign languages.

There are expressions that have been made into the norm that are incorrect in terms of the isiNdebele language.

We have been working with Mpofu to try fix this anomaly,” said Mr Nyamambi during Mr Mpofu’s funeral.

Mr Mpofu was born on April 2, 1932 at Malole in Filabusi, Matabeleland South.

He started schooling at the age of 10.

Mr Mpofu completed teacher training in 1949 at Matopo Mission.

He taught at Filabusi School before proceeding to Goromonzi Secondary School, Mashonaland East province where he passed Form Four in 1953 and was then appointed headmaster in charge of 18 teachers at Mzinyathini School in Mzingwane district until 1957.

He started writing and his first novel was Akusoka Lingelasici which won the first literary prize at that time.

Mr Mpofu completed A-level studies through distance learning before embarking on BA degree studies with Unisa, later going to the University of Zululand, South Africa for a year to complete his BA degree.

Besides being an accomplished teacher, Mr Mpofu held several top positions in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education including being Education Officer and later Regional Director of Education in Matabeleland South and Bulawayo.

Mr Mpofu and his late wife were blessed with three children.

Some of the books that were penned by Mr Mpofu include, Izenzo Zabantu: Amaqalingana Ezindaba (1985) and Wangithembisa Lami which was once a set book for the Ndebele language in high school.


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