The Tshivenda National Lexicography Unit of the University of Venda (Univen), working together with the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB), has distributed single and bilingual Tshivenda/English dictionaries to more than 150 schools in South Africa and Zimbabwe. This was revealed by the Executive Director and Editor-in-chief of the Univen Tshivenda National Lexicography Unit, Dr Shumani Tshikota.
Tshikota was handing over a single language Tshivenda Dictionary (Thalusamaipfi ya Luamboluthihi ya Tshivenda) and a bilingual Tshivenda/English Dictionary to Musina Mayor, Cllr Mihloti Muhlope at Musina Municipality offices. He said it was befitting to hand over the dictionaries to the political head of Musina before distributing them to selected schools around the municipality. “We respect the local leadership because they are representatives of our government. It is always in the good interest of protocol to introduce yourself to the local leadership before engaging with people on the ground.”
He says by distributing indigenous books and dictionaries, they are simply applying the mandate of the National Parliament and the Provincial Legislature of preserving and promoting indigenous languages. “The loss of languages, along with their unique arts and cosmologies, may have consequences that won’t be understood until it is too late to reverse them. So, it is important for all of us to preserve these languages when we still have time.”
When receiving the dictionaries, Muhlope commended the good work by Univen Tshivenda National Lexicography Unit and PanSALB in preserving the Tshivenda indigenous language. “Indigenous languages showcase the beauty and importance of cultural diversity. As a responsible municipality, we will work with all institutions to make sure that our indigenous languages are preserved at all times. Language is not just a body of vocabulary or a set of grammatical rules, it is a flash of the human spirit. It’s a vehicle for which the soul of a culture comes through to the material world.”
Mr Ntshavheni Simutha Ndou is the principal of Vhembe High School in Zimbabwe. He travelled all the way to Musina Municipal offices to receive boxes of dictionaries and Tshivenda books. He also thanked the Univen Tshivenda National Lexicography Unit and PanSALB for coming to his school’s rescue. Other schools that received dictionaries in Musina include Makushu Primary, Musina and Eric Louw High Schools.