Preservation of Indigenous Knowledge through Indigenous Languages in Zimbabwe

Preservation of Indigenous Knowledge through Indigenous Languages in Zimbabwe

Lawton Hikwa, Esabel Maisiri
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0833-5.ch013
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The chapter seeks to demonstrate the need to preserve indigenous knowledge through the preservation of indigenous languages in Zimbabwe. This is premised on linguistic determinism which states that language precedes thought and determines one's worldview. Therefore, by preserving indigenous languages, which in Zimbabwe have continued to be marginalized, the country would be preserving its intangible heritage and maintaining the diversity of its knowledge base. Activities undertaken to preserve indigenous languages are assessed and suggestions put forward on how library and information science professionals could also take part in preserving the knowledge resources. The chapter is based on a literature review.
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The Language Situation In Zimbabwe

The chapter is conceptually and theoretically anchored to the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) Act, 2013, which recognizes and guarantees the official status to sixteen national languages. This is in line with the recommendations of the Select Committee of Parliament on the New Constitution (COPAC) which was appointed in 2009 to coordinate the constitution-making process. The process was one of the deliverables of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) that was signed in September 2008 by the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) led by Robert Mugabe, and the two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), namely, the MDC-T led by Morgan Tsvangirai, and the MDC-N led by Welshman Ncube (KuvakaZim, n.d.). The GPA was brokered by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and it ended the election dispute of 2007 between Tsvangirai and Mugabe, leading to the formation of an inclusive government that came into place in February 2009 (Dzinesa, 2012).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Tangible Heritage: That form of heritage that can be stored and physically touched. It includes items such as traditional utensils, clothing, artefacts and landscapes.

Indigenous Languages: Languages that are original to geographical regions and are often spoken by people indigenous to those regions. Indigenous languages tend to be spoken by distinct communities that would have settled in an area for many generations. They are often marginalised and referred to as minority languages.

Exogenous Language: Language whose original speakers are not local people, immigrants; that is, it is not a mother tongue of the country where it is being spoken.

Multilingualism: An ability to speak and use more than one language.

Knowledge Economy: An economy where growth is dependent on intellectual capital. Such an economy takes into cognisance the quality, quantity, accessibility and availability of information rather than the means of production.

Indigenous Knowledge: The knowledge that a local community accumulates over generations of living in a particular environment. This knowledge includes technologies, know-how, skills, practices and beliefs that enable a community to achieve a stable and sustainable livelihood.

Intangible Heritage: At times referred to as intangible cultural heritage, it includes songs, beliefs, myths, oral poetry, superstitions, voices, values, oral traditions, oral history, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, various forms of traditional knowledge and practices concerning the nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.

Language: Sign and symbols that transmit meaning that “enable human beings to act together, organise themselves into social groups and units and put into effect group decisions” ( Ngulube 2012 , p. 12) and foster a group identity.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR): IP rights are a set of laws that confer ownership and exclusivity to the creator of the IP. IP are “creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce” (ITC/WIPO 2003 AU87: The in-text citation "ITC/WIPO 2003" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. , 8) used to produce goods and services that are traded.

Minority Language: A language that is spoken by a small group of people in the country.

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