The Integration, Preservation and Promotion of Tonga Language and other Minority Languages
In line with the needs of the Tonga to be recognized culturally and have their language and culture included in the country’s education system the government of Zimbabwe has made significant policy changes in terms of its language policy by adopting an all inclusive language policy which recognizes all languages as equal. Language is a symbol of one’s identity and is a means of communication thus it is essential to development.Language policies are the legal statutes which bind the issues to do with language within a country. Since the attainment of independence Zimbabwe has not had a well-documented language policy.it rather adopted the one which was used by the colonial government. In 1974 the colonial government declared that English was the official language and that the education curriculum would include English as the main language two indigenous languages Shona and Ndebele. This meant that other languages like Tonga had no place in the system. This trend continued after the attainment of independence despite lobbying from various sectors of the society. According to Tsodzo Zimbabwe had no clear language policy. The usage of languages was only talked about in the Education Act of 1996 Chapter 20:04 which only recognised only three languages English , Shona and Ndebele . These were the only languages to be taught in Zimbabwean schools from grade one up to form seven. The act was silent on other languages as if they did not exist. These languages which were not recognised by the education act were the ones which were regarded as minority languages on the grounds that they were spoken by the smaller ethnic groups. Unlike south Africa which has fourteen recognised languages including those that are spoken by the smaller ethnic groups and these are well catered for in their educational policy. The Zimbabwean government only offered a shoestring budget or no allocation at all for the development of marginalised languages. up to the advent of the new millennium Zimbabwe had only one official language that is English and two national languages which were Shona and Ndebele .The effects of the absence of an all inclusive language policy meant that the people who spoke other languages like the Tonga were taught either Shona or Ndebele .this enhanced the chances of cultural and linguistic erosion. Such situation also gave rise to loss of identity to the speakers of these marginalised languages. Hitchcock (2009) language and identity are two entities which cannot be separated from each other as language is known to be a bearer of identity. Therefore this makes it requisite for one’s language and culture to be recognized.
In general, languages might be considered to have two basic functions regarding group identity and group development. Firstly language functions as the bearer of an ethnic group’s cultural heritage and historical records. Thus language is a symbol of a group’s identity and all its history and cultural traditions are recorded in their language. If an ethnic group’s languages is eroded its history and cultural achievements cannot be passed on from generation to generation . Smith (1991) language, religion, customs and pigmentation are as the elements by which people can differentiate ethnic identification .Therefore when ethnic minorities consider the possibility of losing their language they will relate this with the possible extinction of their group. They inevitably would consider it as a symbol of the destruction of their culture and history as well as the sign of their complete assimilation by the larger ethnic group. This would mean a tragic end of the tradition and identity of this group. With this in mind it is evident that language is a very sensitive issue among ethnic minorities. The right of preserving their own language and traditional culture is one of the basic human rights supported by the international declaration of the rights of persons belonging religious, linguistic and ethnic minorities of 1992
The constitutional debate on language started in 2000. It was spear headed by Basilwizi Trust. They sought the help of Tonga elders across the lake in creating a firm footing for Tonga language and culture. Zimbabwe adopted a new constitution in 2011 and unlike the Lancaster house constitution which only recognised which only recognised English ,Shona and Ndebele as the only official languages in Zimbabwe the new constitution states that Zimbabwe has 16 languages. Under section 6.4 of the new constitution it is stated that the government must promote and advance all languages spoken in Zimbabwe whilst creating conditions for their development. The official recognition of minority languages by the country’s supreme law shows a shift in government policy from a non-inclusive language policy to an all inclusive language policy the inclusion of Tonga and other minority languages in the country constitution is a guarantee for the preservation and development of Tonga language and culture.it will ensure that it is recognised and appreciated across the country. Making language and culture a policy matter will gives assurance of governments commitment to fight marginalisation and exclusion which has affected the development of the Tonga for years
The recognition of all languages within Zimbabwe’s boarders also presented a paradigm shift on the media. Media plays an important role in development.in this section the study will look at the media coverage towards ethnic minorities. The media plays a crucial in the promotion of development. The media is a means of communication and a platform where people can get informed and it can also act as a means of cultural exchange. The media also fosters tolerance and intercultural dialogue. The media can also play a negative role which can further stereotypes and prejudices which in turn can result in discrimination and marginalisation of ethnic minorities. With this in mind the media should be pluralistic as it plays a crucial in development
The roles of the media in development are largely to inform and educate and it is through these roles that the media thereby making the society and the leadership aware of the importance and the need to undertake certain processes of national development. The media also plays a role plays a role of persuasion where the media are seen as a virile tool of applying persuasive efforts to influence peoples actions towards a particular direction. The media is also seen with the role of furnishing the public with necessary information to achieve development or change goals. Uchaenya (2003) the role of the media in development lies in their capacity to teach and mobilize to teach and mobilize people through dissemination. The media also charts the course for the public in line with the agenda setting theory n thereby creating in the minds of the people issues that should be should be viewed as priority issues including development programmes and policies. Therefore if the media is pluralistic it promotes development by disseminating information to all the citizens in their respective languages. This also affords ethnic minorities’ access to correct information which is one of the main indicators of development
It is evident that there was an absence of media coverage on ethnic minorities. Most of the programming was done in English Shona, and Ndebele. Up to the beginning of the new millennium there was an absence of programmes which were produced in Tonga on the state media platform. It is only on National FM where there are some programmes which are produced in Tonga but notably there are very few and are not aired daily. This can be regarded as a step in the right direction by however it is still very little. Notably the electronic and print media have largely focused on the three main languages. Most informative programmes were produced in Shona, Ndebele and English. This shows alienation of Tonga language from the media. The Tonga produced many artistic pieces for consumption on the media but they were rarely aired on the national broadcaster. There have been also educative films acted and produced in Binga but these have not found their way on the media. One striking feature on Tonga productions is that they have been largely produced with the aid of donors. Local media houses namely the national broadcasters have not contributed to the production of Tonga arts. The Tonga are an artistic group. Most of the dramas which were produced after independence in either Ndebele or Shona were done with the aid of the national broadcaster ZBC. All newspaper publications are in Zimbabwe are done in only the three formerly official languages
Significant government intervention on the issue of minority languages was evident during the era of the inclusive government.it is during this period in which there was serious engagement between the then minister of education sport arts and culture senator David Coltart engaged stake holders in this respect. After lobbying by various sectors of the society the government conceded to the fact that there was need to promote and preserve minority languages. The government engaged the different players in this respect who include traditional leaders
After this lobbying the government endorsed the inclusion of Tonga in the country’s education curriculum. This saw the first Tonga examination being written in October 2011 but it was for the grade seven only. The successful setting of Tonga was hailed as a step in the right direction. The government is also working with Tonga educationalists like Josiah Mungombe to produce Tonga literature. However Tonga is still to be introduced at secondary school level. Mungombe concedes that there is still a lot of work to be done. He further alludes to the challenges which include the absence of well trained teachers who can teach Tonga. The government also engaged stake holders outside the country on how to formulate an all inclusive language policy. Since taking office senator Coltart has made the promotion and preservation of marginalised languages a priority. in line with this goal the government has managed to mobilise funding from UNICEF that is known as the education transition fund. This fund accumulated us $ 9 million for the publication of books in these languages. The government also assured its commitment to this cause and has called on educationalist to utilise this facility created by the government by coming to the fore and produce readers in these languages.
Promotion and Preservation of Tonga Cultural Heritage
The government of Zimbabwe has also embraced the policy of culture led development amongst the Tonga. Culture led development is deemed a feasible way to promote development amongst ethnic minorities as it does not compromise their values. In this sense such an approach facilitates for development that is inclusive of culture and this is more beneficiating to the ethnic minorities. In recent years statistics on the cultural sector as well as operational activities have largely showed that culture is a powerful driver for development, with community-wide social, economic and environmental benefits. A notable example is the contribution by culture to the economy and poverty alleviation through supporting livelihoods. Cultural heritage, cultural and creative industries sustainable cultural tourism, and cultural infrastructure can serve as strategic tools for revenue generation, particularly in developing countries given their often-rich cultural heritage and substantial labour force.
Development that is inclusive of culture can also be a tool used quell marginalisation which has prevented the development of some groups. It facilitates for social inclusiveness and rootedness, resilience, innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship for individuals and communities, and the use of local resources, skills, and knowledge. Respecting and supporting cultural development contributes to the strengthening social social capital of a community and fosters trust in public institutions. Cultural factors also influence lifestyles, individual behaviour, consumption patterns, values related to environmental stewardship, and our interaction with the natural environment. With this in mind the adoption of a culture led developmental approach by the state to promote development amongst the Tonga will promote sustainable development.
The state has also sought to promote cultural heritage sights in Binga district. In Binga district there are cultural sights like the hot springs. According to Alice Munkuli these were regarded as sacred and had very significant spiritual value in the Tonga community. She notes that the hot springs were a ritual sight for rain making ceremonies. However these had lost their significance due to the decline of Tonga culture as a result of cultural dilution and erosion. With goal of reviving Tonga culture and preserving the environmental significance of the hot springs the state through the Environmental Management Authority as well as the National Museums and Monuments has sought to protect the Binga hot springs as a heritage sight. J .Chokozho points out that the safeguarding of the hot spring will help in preserving their cultural as well as economic significance among the Tonga as they can be marketed as a tourist attraction. This also shows that the state has adopted a culture led development approach and groups like the Tonga who are still to a greater extent attached to their tradition this approach will aid sustainable development. As stated in the literature review of this study ethnic minorities would easily embrace development which considers or accommodates their cultural needs hence the state has come up with this approach.
The state has also assumed the responsibility over the manning of BaTonga Museum after the departure of donors who used to finance its programmes. The National Museums and Monuments have up to date taken responsibility of the museum and its employees. The museum serves as tourist attraction in Binga district
Promoting Community Based Tourism / Cultural Tourism
The Zimbabwean government has also sought to promote community based tourism to ensure that the Tonga benefit from Binga’s tourist potential. This policy is primarily aimed at ensuring that the indigenous communities benefit from the tourism activities within their vicinity. Binga has a number of tourist attractions which may generate income and improve the developmental situation in the district. These include game reserves, safaris, fisheries and boat cruises. Thus with the goal of ensuring that the Tonga effectively participate in this sector the government has embraced this idea. In 2014 the government of Zimbabwe declared Binga as one of the international tourist destinations and the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality has embarked on a drive to market the place. Community based tourism enables local development that is development with the locally available resources.
Mutama(2012)Community Based Tourism is a recognized sector in Zimbabwe. For a group like the Tonga it is specifically important for its socio-economic and ecological importance to the development of their area of inhabitancy. Firstly it is a strong source of competitiveness for the tourism sector as they offer a range of diverse products and services notable of which is the arts and culture, the tradition, the natural landscapes and host services in rural villages. Community Based Tourism certainly gives more value to the traditional tourist attractions and in Binga district as well as the services they offer . Community based tourism is also important because it facilitates for the achievement of pro-poor and sustainability objectives through local participation and ownership. Mutama (2012) points out that community based tourism reaches out to marginalized communities enabling them to participate directly through developing and managing tourism enterprises or benefit indirectly through the economic activities stimulated when visitors come through their areas. Therefore by promoting community based tourism in Binga district the government is creating a platform for the Tonga to participate in development.
Thirdly community based tourism enables environmental conservation and sustainable use of natural resources amongst the Tonga. This is especially so in iconic landscapes occurring in communal areas and strategic wildlife areas. The natural in Binga resources would be threatened in the state did not promote community based tourism amongst the Tonga and this would inevitably have presented developmental challenges for the Tonga. Fourthly