International Mother Language Day, celebrated each year on 21 February, recognises that languages and multilingualism can advance inclusion, and the Sustainable Development Goals’ focus on leaving no one behind. UNESCO believes education, based on the first language or mother tongue, must begin from the early years as early childhood care and education is the foundation of learning. This year’s observance for International Mother language is a call on policymakers, educators and teachers, parents and families to scale up their commitment to multilingual education and inclusion in education to advance education recovery in the context of COVID-19.
The Time of the Writer festival presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of Kwazulu-Natal is a forerunner in presenting programmes in Mother languages. For this year’s 24th edition of the Festival that will be presented virtually from 15 – 21 March, the Centre for Creative Arts has partnered with the Amazwi South African Museum of Literature to create a platform to showcase and profile poets who work in the isiXhosa language.
Author, creative and social media enthusiast Melusi Tshabalala, who has been using his Facebook account to teach isiZulu and is now offering a free 10-week course to learn the fundamentals of the language, will be featured in a special one hour programme at the Festival. Tshabalala’s method of teaching isiZulu to South Africans has been acclaimed as fun and innovative with an emphasis on one isiZulu word at a time. Melusi Tshabalala will be in dialogue with creative and academic Phindile Dlamini, who has been drawn in by the Time of the Writer festival to co-curate the Festival’s African languages component.
“As we plan for the 25th edition of the Time of the Writer festival next year, we want to be a forerunner as being South Africa’s most relevant Festival that creates a place on the programme for all of South Africa’s official languages. We will work with a team of young, innovative and exciting co-curators who recognise and value the Mother Languages that they have inherited from their forebearers”, says Siphindile Hlongwa, a co-curator of the Festival.
“Growing opportunities for curators in all South African languages is central to the strategic vision of the Centre for Creative Arts. Hence, our partnership with Amazwi South African Museum of Literature is a perfect fit,” says Ismail Mahomed, the Centre for Creative Arts director. Mahomed has more than 35-years in cultural leadership. He has been key to growing the National Arts Festival’s international profile during his 8-year tenure as the Festival’s Artistic Director.
In the Translation Dialogues, Phindile Dlamini will moderate a dialogue with two translators — Nkosinathi Sithole and Nakanjani Sibiya — who translated a series of literary works from IsiZulu into English. They will share their journey.Unisa academic Zodwa Motsa will discuss the book, Avoiding Potholes in Translation with Dr Sylvia Zulu, Sebolelelo Mokapelo and the author Phindile Dlamini. The Festival will also launch a book edited by Mandla Maphumulo on IsiZulu Orthography.
Time of the Writer is made possible through partnerships with the KZN Department of Sports, Arts & Culture, Amazwi South African Museum of Literature, the French Institute of South Africa, Imbiza Journal of African Writing, the STAND Foundation, the National Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, and the Foundation for Human Rights.
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