The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Tribute to Mother Language

Chipawo will today commemorate the International Mother Language Day at the Zimbabwe College of Music in Harare. Chipawo Arts Education for Development and Employment begins its 2013 programme by performing at the celebrations.

The day, which falls on February 21, was proclaimed by the General Conference of Unesco in 1999 "to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by the people of the world".

February 21 represents the day in 1952 "when students demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh".

Belinda Mufute, Chipawo programmes officer, said that children will come from all Chipawo centres in Harare as well as outside Harare.

"Children from Chipawo centres from all over Harare, Norton, Domboshava, Chitungwiza and Bindura will gather at the Zimbabwe College of Music in collaboration with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, together with the United Nations Information Centre."

She said that Chipawo will mark the day with performances in music, dance, drama, poetry in different languages to demonstrate the organisation's commitment to arts education that promotes linguistic and cultural diversity and multi-lingualism.

Chipawo has commemorated the International Mother Language Day since 2000 recognising it as the day that brings children together to express how they value their mother tongues and acknowledge as well as appreciate their cultural diversity.

Chipawo's programme has been designed to be at the centre of celebrating the Unesco Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and this year's theme, "Mother Tongues and Books" and the slogan, "Books for Mother Tongue Education".

Children at Chipawo centres have been asked to request their parents to teach their totemic praises which they will perform in their mother tongues to demonstrate the need to master different and rich cultural form expressions.

The recital of totems is meant to emphasise and enlighten people on the importance of totems, their role in promoting identity and strengthen relations. Parents will be asked to make short performing arts presentations in languages spoken in Zimbabwe.

Two children from Emerald Hill School for the Deaf, a Chipawo centre, will do a presentation to teach other children sign language. During the celebrations, the International Message of the Day that will be issued by Irina Bokova, the Unesco director-general, will be read.

The director-general has already stressed the importance of the day by declaring that, "multi-lingualism is a source of strength and opportunity for humanity. It embodies our cultural diversity and encourages the exchange of views, the renewal of ideas and broadening our capacity."

The guest of honour at this event will be Mai Rebecca Chisamba, Zimbabwe's best-known talk show host who through her popular "Mai Chisamba Show" TV show, has promoted Shona as a language of choice.

She is a role model for the girl child, a promoter of good cultural values and an example of extremely empowered women.

A number of organisations will also grace the event such as Unesco, UNIC and Childline among others.

Chipawo has also invited children's homes to be part of the event and it will provide transport for children who are underprivileged so that they do not miss out.

Members of the public are invited to join Chipawo in celebrating the International Mother Language Day.

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