‘English was used to undermine Zimbabwe’s native languages’

Information, Media, and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Chris Mushohwe
Information, Media, and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Chris Mushohwe

ENGLISH is a colonial language that was used to undermine the country’s native languages and destroy the culture of Zimbabweans, Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Dr Chris Mushohwe has said.

Dr Mushohwe, who will be officially launching the 16 constitutionally recognised languages bulletins at ZBC in Bulawayo today was in Binga, Matabeleland North yesterday to meet content producers who will participate in the digitalisation programme. He was accompanied by his Deputy Thokozile Mathuthu, Permanent Secretary George Charamba and officials from the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, Transmedia Corporation and Zimbabwe Film and Television School of South Africa.

Dr Mushohwe told Binga artistes that while the country attained independence in 1980, the minds of Zimbabweans were not yet psychologically free from colonial bondage.

“English is a colonial language. Foreign languages were the most useful weapons used to colonise African countries. Right from Algeria to South Africa, they were used in the destruction of native languages. We drank too much colonial poison and we must correct that. We want to clean that contamination in our mindset and have all languages being read in the news,” said Minister Mushohwe.

The minister said unless Zimbabweans restored their culture and languages, they will forever be slaves of colonisers.

“Learning of languages has to be reciprocal. There is no language that is superior than the other. We have to learn to appreciate and respect our own culture. It’s embarrassing that some of our children go overseas and refuse to identify with us when they come back. We all have a job to clean this mess,” said Minister Mushohwe.

The digitalisation project, he added, and the Government’s 75 percent local content policy will help the nation rediscover itself.

“This mobilisation tour is meant to encourage our artistes and make them realise that they have a big role to play in helping the country reclaim its identity. It’s going to be an exciting process where we have different content producers showing us the different cultures we have in Zimbabwe through our own languages,” said Minister Mushohwe.

Minister Mushohwe, who started his tour in Victoria Falls on Thursday before proceeding to Hwange on Friday and Binga yesterday said he was excited about the overwhelming response by content producers.

“The reception is amazing. The content producers are natural artistes and I’m happy about the excitement they are exhibiting about the digitalisation project. I’m certain that it will be followed by action to sustain this project. Traditional leaders have also exhibited maximum support and I appreciate that,” said Minister Mushohwe.

He, however , said he was feeling guilty that Binga was one of the areas that was not receiving Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation signals, making it difficult to disseminate information to them.

“Binga is one of the places that makes me feel guilty on behalf of the Government. I’m the spokesperson for the Government and I can’t say I’ve succeeded in disseminating information when there’s no ZBC television here. I’m actually humbled by the response because people in Binga are not privileged to see our advertisements on television. They associate more with news from Zambia,” said the minister.

Government, he added, would soon remedy the gap so that people in Binga receive signals.

“When I joined the ministry I insisted that digitalisation must start in Binga. That position will not change because we have a debt to pay,” said Minister Mushohwe.

Charamba said Government had installed a tower in Binga, with a batch of transmitters already in the country to cater for the tower.

“The tower still needs to be equipped with transmitters. A batch of transmitters are already in the country and these will cater for the Binga tower. This will be done expeditiously,” said Charamba.

He said Government was also working on establishing public viewing centers in the district as part of the digitalisation project.

Yesterday’s meeting was also attended by veteran artist Cont Mhlanga, who is assisting film producers in the area to improve their skills. The local leadership, Zanu-PF officials, Government officials and were also part of the meeting.

Meanwhile, ZBC general manager News and Current Affairs Mr Tazzen Mandizvidza told the Sunday News that the broadcaster places high value on local languages.

Some of the languages that were already on air before are Tonga, Venda, Nambya and Sotho.

“We are introducing five more languages to make them nine and the Minister of Media and Broadcasting Services Dr Christopher Mushowe will officially launch the whole project of bulletins in vernacular. The languages were on radio before on National FM but we are saying they deserve the same priority as other languages. It is in line with the Constitution but we feel as the national broadcaster we want to be seen giving them the priority that they deserve,” said Mr Mandizvidza.

He added that they have been on the hunt for qualified personnel to air the programmes. “When we introduced these programmes on radio, the first challenge was that we did not have qualified people. Most people who could speak the languages did not have journalism qualifications, some were teachers, and court interpreters while others had various qualifications. The first process was to say let’s introduce them on radio then train the people. We taught them radio broadcasting and now they have the requisite qualifications. We then moved to have the languages on television and we looked to see if we had qualified people to read and write them,” he added.

Mr Mandizvidza said the language bulletins were being done in phases. Mr Mandizvidza said it was a plus that the languages were now on radio and television.

“We want Montrose studios to champion the growth of Zimbabwean culture, when you bring in the language you are incorporating culture and this place will lead in the preservation of culture and language.”

*Sunday Mail

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