Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Minority tribes enlist Government in cultural expansion

Efforts directed at promoting the use of languages of tribes classified as minorities in Botswana have begun to yield the desired results.

The relative semblance of recognition that Government has now extended to such efforts has been described as a giant leap forward in the development of the neglected sections of the non- traditional Tswana speaking communities.

Luther Venjonoka Ndjarakana an official of RETENG (a multi cultural coalition of Botswana tribal groupings) said, “It is pleasing for us that despite the perception that so the so-called minority groups are anti government, a lot of people have now begun to appreciate our mandate better.”

This follows the conclusion of the coalitions annual general meeting, held last week at the Gaborone Civic Centre.
AGMs are viewed as a continual means of evaluating performance and outcome of activities and tasks that the coalition had set for themselves at previous general meetings.

In this context RETENG has identified focal areas on the basis of which they continually examine the difference their activities make across the broad spectrum of society. These include language development, cultural development, research, networking and human rights and advocacy.

According to the credits awarded by the AGM, the coalition has made satisfactory advances in terms of language and culture whereas they still have a mountain to climb in respect of other aspects.

With respect to language, the group boasts that they have already produced orthography of sestwana which would serve as a very resourceful pool in terms of pronunciation and spelling of Setswapong words for learners.

“We are proud that a summary of vision of 2016 has been completed in Shiyeyi and all the pillars have been translated into at least eight languages of minority groups,” said Ndjarakana, adding that two CDs and one DVD had been produced to document other language related cultural aspects.

In terms of cultural development RETENG recently held cultural festival which afforded all the affected tribes an opportunity to showcase their culture. Apparently this is a biannual event. On that basis, every individual cultural entity is expected to host its own cultural festival before participating at the biannual one.

The latest biannual cultural festival was held last year in Gaborone thanks to the courtesy of the Department of Arts and culture which contributed 40 000 to make it success.

RETENG is multicultural coalition of non Tswana traditional groups or tribes founded during the Balopi Commission in 2000 to address concerns about section 77/78/79 of the constitution. These include SPIL, Lentwe la Batswapong, Mbanderu Youth Association of Botswana, Herero- Mbanderu youth association of Botswana.

After making their input to the findings of the commission, the affected groupings then decided to constitute themselves into a permanent advocacy coalition.

Although RETENG enjoys the support of numerous reputable International Organizations like Lutheran Bible Translators, Minority Rights International, they maintain that it’s not all systems go, and consequently they are unable to reach out to affiliate members for a better appreciation of their mandate.

To be able to do this better, he indicated that they needed full time staff for each focal area.
At the end of the AGM delegates elected a new board of directors. Each organization brought two members. Ndjarakana noted that “our major thrust is that we pursue objectives that are non political.”

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.