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“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”, once commented the late uTata Nelson Mandela

SOWETO Theatre in partnership with Indigenous Languages Initiative For Advancement (ILIFA ) presents Mother Tongue Indaba a panel discussion on the plight of indigenous languages on 25 May 2024 at the Soweto Theatre.

It is often said by language speakers that, when you introduce yourself in your language, other language speakers know something about you just from your name, clan, and where you are from. 

These are learnings that Mother Tongue Indaba will delve into, as they shine a spotlight on the importance of the use of African Languages.

ILIFA recognises that Indigenous languages are like ecological encyclopaedias and ancestral guides with profound knowledge cultivated over centuries. If these languages are not passed on, then this wisdom is lost to humanity and the generations to come.

Renowned experts Dr. Victor Ramathisele and Professor Somadoda Fikeni will lead the discussion, exploring the current state of indigenous languages in South Africa.

They will be joined by a panel discussion looking into the plight of indigenous languages and their limited use in education, commerce and within society, thus limiting mother tongue use to households and workspaces.

“Once our indigenous language is unknown to us it becomes difficult defining who we are and where we come from.

Mother Tongue Indaba is important because it serves as a reminder for us to go back to our roots, appreciate our indigenous language and at the same time learn other people’s languages and be aware of cultural diversity, especially in a country like South Africa.

Should indigenous languages cease to exist, our identity and culture will be lost to the future generations, and they will not know who they are”, says, chairperson of the Indigenous Language Initiative for Advancement, Mabutho “Kid” Sithole.

“This initiative by Soweto Theatre in collaboration with ILIFA aims to safeguard the mother tongue, taking indigenous languages from the periphery to the centre stage.

Given our current climate and humanitarian crises, Indigenous languages and knowledges are needed more than ever.

The month of May presents opportunities for us to promote African unity, deeper regional integration and recommit Africa to a common destiny”, says, Vincent Motau – General Manager at Soweto Theatre.

Some of keynote speakers include: Prof. Sihawukele Ngubane, Tsakani Nkwei, Prof. Itumeleng Mosala, Ndivhuwo Mutsila, Prof. Mokhele Madise amongst others.

It will happen on May 25, at Soweto Theatre-Jabulani.

Tickets are priced at R80.

Image (Mabutho ‘Kid’ Sithole-  chairperson of the Indigenous Language Initiative for Advancement).

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