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