Xhosa dic­tio­nary sees the light


Ko­mani au­thor Pro­fes­sor Menzi Duka has com­piled a Xhosa dic­tio­nary,

Duka said the Shuter and Shooter pub­lish­ing com­pany ap­proached him to com­pile the dic­tio­nary.

He said the rel­e­vant aca­demic ex­per­tise and knowl­edge were nec­es­sary in pro­duc­ing ref­er­ence ma­te­ri­als.

“I have a BA hon­ours from Fort Hare, a masters of arts from Unisa and a doc­tor­ate in lit­er­a­ture and phi­los­o­phy from Rhodes Univer­sity.”

He said the ex­ist­ing ver­sion of the English-Xhosa dic­tio­nary had re­mained for a long time as the Bri­tish had in­tro­duced an ed­u­ca­tion re­moved from an African con­text, but the pe­riod of African re­nais­sance, led by for­mer pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki and for­mer Nige­rian pres­i­dent Chief Oluse­gun Abasanjo, had en­cour­aged a re­newal in in­dige­nous lan­guages.

“This had a great im­pact on me. My book, ti­tled

was writ­ten at that time and one of the de­bates was about hav­ing an Xhosa dic­tio­nary.”

He said Africans were start­ing to em­brace their lan­guages with a “flood of songs” in in­dige­nous lan­guages. The use of in­dige­nous lan­guages was cru­cial to de­vel­op­ment and pupils should be de­vel­oped in their home lan­guages be­fore they learnt other lan­guages.

“I love English lit­er­a­ture and I have also writ­ten books in English, but when we use it to com­mu­ni­cate, many South Africans be­come marginalised and are left be­hind in de­vel­op­ment.

“Sta­tis­tics re­veal that more than 60% of the Eastern Cape is ru­ral which is the case with most South African prov­inces.”

Duka said the role of the ed­u­cated was to pass on knowl­edge and skills in or­der to bring about up­lift­ment.

“I have been writ­ing since

1963 when I started con­tribut­ing to a stu­dents’ mag­a­zine at the age of 15. This en­cour­aged me to de­velop my writ­ing skills.”

For more in­for­ma­tion about the dic­tio­nary, con­tact Duka on



Pro­fes­sor Menzi Duka

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