Bayeni Highlights Importance Of Indigenous Languages


Authors, representatives from academic institutions, translators, booksellers and leaners gathered at a two-day session that ends today, 15 October 2019, to encourage the use of indigenous languages and reading of books under the theme: "Promoting Indigenous Languages through Book Fair", at Steve Biko Centre.    

MEC Fezeka Bayeni gave a keynote address and highlighted that this year, 2019 has been declared by the World Organization, UNESCO as the year of Indigenous Languages.

Languages play a crucial role in the daily lives of people, not only as a tool for communication, education, social integration and development, but also as a repository for each person's unique identity, cultural history, traditions and memory.

"Through the Book-fair we want to source and harvest ideas on how we can advance and put the indigenous language development agenda to the centre stage.

It is important to read and to be literate, you can't write a book without reading others. Learners should stop reading only the books taught in school but should expand their knowledge by reading other books that are not part of the school syllabus. We should as the nation be able to tell our stories by writing books so that our culture may be known."


"We furthermore want to understand why it is important to read classical books in indigenous languages – and why is it after years - writers such as Mqhayi have passed on, we are still reading their books. Is there anything to be gained from these publications?"

"I specifically mention S.E.K Mqhayi because we cannot talk of indigenous languages without mentioning his name. He is the doyen of African literature. He has written several books on various genres in isiXhosa language. His contribution in isiXhosa development is not confined to the province or in the country, he is an international figure," said MEC Bayeni.  


The Book-fair was conducted in three-fold, where it celebrated International Translation Day, which is an annual event meant to foreground crucial role translation plays in bridging linguistic and cultural divide. The second part focused on creative writing and publishing and where information session was facilitated by seasoned published literary critics for budding published writers.


The final part was the display of books and book launch. One of the writers who launched her book is Nobulali Tokwe who has written a kids book in isiXhosa, titled 'Nomkhitha".


The Book-fair programme was organised by the Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture in partnership with PanSALB and Steve Biko Foundation. 


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