Nama lan­guage rein­tro­duced

Pro­vin­cial schools will have the lan­guage as part of their cur­ricu­lum again next year

The New Age (Free State) - - NORTHERN CAPE NEWS - CHARLOTE HLANGWANE prov­inces@the­newage.co.za

IN LESS than a year of the Nama lan­guage dic­tionary launch, the pro­vin­cial schools will have the lan­guage as part of their cur­ricu­lum.

The Nama lan­guage will be rein­tro­duced in North­ern Cape schools next year. The rein­tro­duc­tion of the Nama lan­guage is a year ahead of sched­ule.

Education depart­ment spokesper­son Le­huma Ntu­ane said that was a good ini­tia­tive for the Khoisan as they would also have a chance to be taught their lan­guage in school.

“This will en­hance a sense of the Nama pride again. Ex­pos­ing the peo­ple to the Nama cul­ture will bring about some­thing pos­i­tive,” Ntu­ane said.

Nama lan­guage will be in­tro­duced to two com­mu­ni­ties that are oc­cu­pied by the Khoi peo­ple, which are Riem­vas­maak and Khoboes.

Ntu­ane said: “The depart­ment has com­mit­ted it­self to do ev­ery­thing within the con­fines of the bud­get to help in establishing the Nama lan­guage in the cur­ricu­lum again.”

In 2016, a book con­tain­ing the cor­rect spell­ing of words in most of the di­alects of the Nama lan­guage has been launched at Steinkopf near Spring­bok in the North­ern Cape. It’s hoped it will as­sist in pre­serv­ing, pro­mot­ing and de­vel­op­ing the lan­guage.

Pan South African Lan­guage Board (PanSalb) CEO Mpho Monareng said: “We’re giv­ing a new lan­guage to the world. It is new in the sense of lit­er­ate in the form of writ­ing.”

The project to record the dif­fer­ent words and di­alects of the Nama lan­guage started al­most three decades ago and will con­tinue, says Prof Wil­fred Haacke, a con­trib­u­tor to the dic­tionary.

“What I’m work­ing to­wards is ex­pand­ing the com­pre­hen­sive database for an­other re­vised edi­tion to the main dic­tionary.”

PanSalb, to­gether with the Khoisan com­mu­ni­ties, de­cided last year that the lan­guage should be taught in schools by 2019.

The depart­ment said at least 20 teach­ers will be trained in the Nama lan­guage for a week in July.

“How­ever, in Au­gust two or more teach­ers of Xhara re­gion will come and train the peo­ple in com­mu­ni­ties,” Ntu­ane said.

Khoekhoe is a Khoisan lan­guage spo­ken by about 250 000 peo­ple in parts of South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. It is spo­ken by three groups of peo­ple, the Nama (Khoekhoen), Da­mar and Hai?om. The lan­guage is also known as Nama.

Khoekhoe is a national lan­guage in Namibia and is used in education at all lev­els, as well as on the ra­dio. There are also Khoekhoe ra­dio pro­grammes in South Africa.

In the past the term Hot­ten­tot was used to re­fer to the Khoekhoe lan­guage and those who spoke it. This name was coined by early Dutch set­tlers, who, upon hear­ing the lan­guage spo­ken, thought that all the na­tives were say­ing was “hot” and “tot”. It is now con­sid­ered pe­jo­ra­tive and is no longer used.

Nama as a sub­ject is not for­eign to North­ern Cape schools. It was once taught in four schools in the province, at Riem­vas­maak, Steinkopf and the Richtersveld, all ar­eas with strong Nama roots.

The lan­guage will not only be taught at school, the pro­gramme’s co­or­di­na­tor, James Mpanga, said.

“So once Mr Dirkse is in the class, he’ll be able to teach our el­derly peo­ple. The ben­e­fit that we have is that the peo­ple speak the lan­guage but they can’t read and write it so we will use that back­ground to train them,” Mpanga said.

Jo­hannes Is­sack has been teach­ing Nama for 20 years in Namibia and is tasked with lead­ing a del­e­ga­tion to as­sist the North­ern Cape.

“If I look in terms of the en­thu­si­asm of the com­mu­nity I have a sense that they have re­alised the im­por­tance of the lan­guage and of its sus­tain­abil­ity. We have started with some lessons,” Is­sack said.

The Nama pro­gramme is be­ing closely watched by other Khoisan com­mu­ni­ties, who also want their lan­guages to be taught in schools.

PIC­TURE: FLICKR

AN­OTHER CHANCE: In 2018, the Nama lan­guage will be rein­tro­duced into the cur­ricu­lums of North­ern Cape schools, which the education depart­ment is 100% sup­port­ive of.

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