Nqobile Tshili Chronicle Reporter
ONLY four people in the country speak Tshwao, a language spoken by the San people, amid fears the language is on the brink of extinction. Mthandazo Vundla, a headman from Sifulasengwe Sinqinyana, a San community in Tsholotsho, said people in his community were even ashamed of speaking their language.

He told delegates attending a Southern Africa meeting organised by the Working Group of Indigenous Minorities of Southern Africa (WIMSA) in Bulawayo on Thursday that Tshwao was under threat.

“We might have more people who can still speak our language, but they’re ashamed to speak it. There are four of us who can still proudly speak Tshwao,” Vundla told representatives of the minority group from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana who attended the meeting.

He said the situation was worsened by the fact that the language was not documented and not taught in schools.
“Even those who are supposed to translate our language have failed to spell the words correctly, making the language unreadable,” said Vundla.

He said the San were being discriminated by other people who viewed them as “inferior and backward”.
“We’re insulted by these people. They impregnate our children but they don’t want to marry them. You hear them saying how can a donkey and a cow bear a child?” he said.

Vundla said his community was raising fatherless children and having difficulties when it came to sending them to school.
“Our education system doesn’t accept children without birth certificates, so they don’t get a chance to go to school,” he said.

Participants from other countries echoed the same sentiments, with South Africa’s Collin Louw saying only about 10 people spoke their language.

WIMSA acting coordinator, Victoria Haruseb, said they understood the plight facing the San community in Zimbabwe.
Moses Khumub, of the Namibian San Council, said although governments were trying to improve their situation, more needed to be done.

“Noting that there are visible actions and progress towards the empowerment of the indigenous people, a number of structural, systemic, socio-economic and political challenges impede the enjoyment of the rights,” he said.

He added: “These include weak implementation, non-ratification and domestication of protocols, leadership and commitment challenges, high levels of poverty in many indigenous people, inequalities as well as the problematic developmental model policies.”

You Might Also Like