Oh youth, don't forsake isiNdebele

Apathy towards isiNdebele is its greatest threat. (Theana Breugem)

Apathy towards isiNdebele is its greatest threat. (Theana Breugem)

I am Vusi Nanas Skosana from former KwaNdebele in a small village called Boekenhouthoek. My mother tongue is Southern Ndebele.

I studied language practice and majored in IsiNdebele. I worked at the Pan South African Language Board, which promotes multilingualism, for a year. I also worked at

the University of Pretoria in the department of African languages' isiNdebele National ­Lexicographic Unit for four years. I am now with the department of education and work at the Phumzile Further Education and Training College as an educator.

Apart from education, I am a scriptwriter for the SABC's Ikwekwezi FM, I am a Vusmo Media IsiNdebele film director and I ­compose music.  

The youth of Soweto fought for language freedom on 16 June 1976 by protesting against the use of Afrikaans as a language of learning and teaching. It was the first time in South Africa that the youth took a stand for their rights.

Today, we have freedom and our languages are official.

But, as an isiNdebele language practitioner, I am concerned about the behaviour of young South African Ndebeles. They do not want to study isiNdebele as their mother tongue and they do not want to engage themselves in programmes of the development of isiNdebele as a language.

The Mpumalanga provincial government gives bursaries to people who want to study education and become teachers of isiNdebele. Very few apply for these bursaries.

When Ikwekwezi FM announces that they want radio presenters, the young people who have done media studies and journalism do not have isiNdebele.

Others have changed themselves to be Zulus and Sothos. They cannot pronounce isiNdebele words, they do not know about Ndebele culture, yet they are Ndebele by birth.

Every year, on June 16, we celebrate the victory of the youth of 1976. We remember the youth that fought for our freedom. The question that I ask myself is, "What is happening to our youth?"

Who will fight for isiNdebele if we do not want to study and develop our language? What is our future? What are we planning for our kids?

The SABC is planning to open new channels and isiNdebele will have one. Who will work on that channel? Who will direct and produce quality material in isiNdebele?

Young Ndebele people, let us be proud of ourselves and remember that our identity is our language.

Nelson Mandela once said, "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart."

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