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Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture
NATIONAL LANGUAGES DAY SPEECH
24/02/14
Directors of Ceremonies; Honourable Minister of Lands and Housing and Member of Parliament for Boteti South Rre Lebonaamang Mokalake; Honourable Member of Parliament for Boteti North Rre Slumber Tsogwane; Kgosi Ya Letlhakane Kgosi Baruntshi Kegapetswe le Magosi otlhe a a fano Your Excellencies Members of the Diplomatic Corps; Central District Council Chairperson, Honourable Rre Lesego Raditanka; Boteti Sub District Council Chairperson, Honourable Rre Ketshwereng Galeragwe,; Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture, Mr. Kago Ramokate; District Commissioner for Central District, Mme Thobo Mapitse; Deputy District Commissioner for Boteti Sub District, Rre Loeto Porati; Council Secretary for Central District Council……………….; Ngwato Land Board Secretary……………..; Acting Director of Arts and Culture, Mr Dean Molebatsi; All Heads of Departments and Organisations here Present; Distingushed Guests; Borra le Bomma; Dumelang!, Dumilani!, Mooro (Otjimbanderu), ! Xum (Kwedom) 1. I am greatly honoured to officiate at this important event to mark the 2014 National Languages Day in Letlhakane. We appreciate the warm hospitality of the people of the Boteti Sub District. 2. Ladies and Gentlemen, the International Mother Language Day is observed annually on 21 February worldwide to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. It was first observed by UNESCO on 17 November 1999 and was formally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008. 3. Botswana has since adopted February 21 as its National Languages Day. Commemorations have taken us to Molepolole in 2010, Maun in 2011, Bobonong in 2012 and Gantsi in 2013. This year, we are honoured and excited to be in Letlhakane celebrating this day. 4. Bagaetsho, the theme for today’s commemoration is “My language, My pride, Ke Ipela ka Teme Ya Me”. This theme seeks to encourage individuals, communities, Government, NGOs and all to commit to the development of languages, particularly local languages and to ensure the mainstreaming of language into all activities and programmes. Therefore there must be a deliberate effort to promote the different languages spoken in our country. 5. Language plays an integral part in education and learning, value systems, the transmission of national heritage and history, national unity, commerce and the development of a country. The promotion and preservation of our languages is important for our very existence as it is through language that human beings share ideas, make plans, understand and appreciate one another. 6. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Government of Botswana recognises the importance of languages and culture in socio- economic development. In the National Development Plan 10 (NDP 10) we recognize that the country’s diverse cultures, languages and traditions are irreplaceable treasures of value that need to be preserved, promoted and appreciated. 7. My Ministry has also set up an advisory structure; the National Languages Committee which advises on issues related to language development in the country. The membership of the committee comprises different cultural organisations, linguists and cultural activists, many of whom are the organisations I referred to above. 8. Furthermore, Government has ratified the 2003 Convention on the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH). One of the key tenets of the convention is to raise awareness and facilitate the safeguarding of ICH elements at local and international levels through oral traditions and expressions, using mainly local languages as vehicles of transmission. 9. Bagaetsho, Government has established various mechanisms and programmes meant to promote the development of languages in Botswana in sync with the National Policy on Culture. One such programme in my Ministry is the Arts and Culture Grant which has been allocated P5.6m this year. This is a financial assistance scheme which supports community initiatives in undertaking different arts and culture activities including documentation of languages, community cultural festivals, capacity building workshops, regional and national fairs, talent search programmes etc. 10. Another of the programmes undertaken by my Ministry is the President’s Day Competitions. In these competitions, artists are allowed to use any language of their choice including mother tongue in their songs. This is a deliberate effort to try and promote and preserve local languages and heritage thereof. 11. Director of Ceremonies; I am proud to note that number of artists from the Boteti Sub District have competed at President’s Day competitions even at National level over the years. Special mention in this regard goes to Mme Goitsemang Makasu (setinkane player) of Letlhakane and Mme Anju Lucas (setinkane player) of Malatswai,both of whom have been winners in these competitions. The two have even showcased their artistry internationally in Sweden and China respectively. 12. As artists may be aware, February is the month for registration for the President’s Day Competitions and it is currently on-going until 28 February 2014. Please register in large numbers and prepare yourselves thoroughly for the upcoming competition. I would also like to encourage you to form a committee to run these competitions in your area. 13. Other than just speaking the different languages, it is critical to document local languages as a way of safeguarding them for posterity. It is pleasing to note that some communities, mainly through local and community cultural organisations, are taking a lead in promoting and documenting local languages. They have developed grammars, orthographies and also produced books in local languages at different levels. Such organisations include Tomela ya Puo, RETENG Multi-cultural Coalition, Mbungu Wa Kathimana, Otjingirine, Kamanakao, Chelwa ya Shekgalahari and Khwedom Council. 14. Ladies and Gentlemen, As part of the effort to celebrate Botswana cultural, artistic and linguistic diversity, last year my Ministry started consulting Batswana on the possibility of our country ratifying the 2005 Convention on the Protection & Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Consultations have so far been held in places such as Tsabong, Ghanzi, Maun, Francistown to name but a few. Being part of this International Agreement will most definitely complement our already existing programmes and initiatives in the protection and promotion of our diverse cultural expressions, including most importantly, our languages. 15. Ladies and Gentlemen, As we promote and preserve our local languages, we should be mindful of the importance of appreciating the languages of other nations. We live in a global world and being able to speak the languages of other nations will improve our chances of making socio-economic gains and being competitive in the global arena. Considering that a large number of young people are unemployed, I would encourage them to not only know the local languages but also to learn and master other international languages such as French, Spanish, German etc. This will give them a competitive advantage in the international job market. 16. Bagaetsho, we cannot ignore the decline in the use of our local languages especially among our youth. This poses real danger to the transmission of our values, beliefs, traditions and our culture in general. The modernization and development of these languages presents an opportunity for the building of a strong moral fabric of our society, lest other nations through their languages and cultures will swallow us into extinction. 17. In 2008, the National Languages Committee developed a booklet on the different languages of Botswana called Our Language Our Pride and the booklet has since been reviewed. I am happy to launch the 2nd edition of the book today here in Letlhakane. I believe that the book will contribute significantly to existing literature and have a positive effect in terms of language development in our country. 18. Lastly, I would like to thank the District and Village leadership, the organising committee and all those who worked hard to make this day a success. Rea Leboga Bagaetsho! 19. On that note, I wish to declare commemoration of the 2014 Languages Day officially opened. Ke a leboga
Directors of Ceremonies; Honourable Minister of Lands and Housing and Member of Parliament for Boteti South Rre Lebonaamang Mokalake; Honourable Member of Parliament for Boteti North Rre Slumber Tsogwane; Kgosi Ya Letlhakane Kgosi Baruntshi Kegapetswe le Magosi otlhe a a fano Your Excellencies Members of the Diplomatic Corps; Central District Council Chairperson, Honourable Rre Lesego Raditanka; Boteti Sub District Council Chairperson, Honourable Rre Ketshwereng Galeragwe,; Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture, Mr. Kago Ramokate; District Commissioner for Central District, Mme Thobo Mapitse; Deputy District Commissioner for Boteti Sub District, Rre Loeto Porati; Council Secretary for Central District Council……………….; Ngwato Land Board Secretary……………..; Acting Director of Arts and Culture, Mr Dean Molebatsi; All Heads of Departments and Organisations here Present; Distingushed Guests; Borra le Bomma; Dumelang!, Dumilani!, Mooro (Otjimbanderu), ! Xum (Kwedom) 1. I am greatly honoured to officiate at this important event to mark the 2014 National Languages Day in Letlhakane. We appreciate the warm hospitality of the people of the Boteti Sub District. 2. Ladies and Gentlemen, the International Mother Language Day is observed annually on 21 February worldwide to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. It was first observed by UNESCO on 17 November 1999 and was formally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008. 3. Botswana has since adopted February 21 as its National Languages Day. Commemorations have taken us to Molepolole in 2010, Maun in 2011, Bobonong in 2012 and Gantsi in 2013. This year, we are honoured and excited to be in Letlhakane celebrating this day. 4. Bagaetsho, the theme for today’s commemoration is “My language, My pride, Ke Ipela ka Teme Ya Me”. This theme seeks to encourage individuals, communities, Government, NGOs and all to commit to the development of languages, particularly local languages and to ensure the mainstreaming of language into all activities and programmes. Therefore there must be a deliberate effort to promote the different languages spoken in our country. 5. Language plays an integral part in education and learning, value systems, the transmission of national heritage and history, national unity, commerce and the development of a country. The promotion and preservation of our languages is important for our very existence as it is through language that human beings share ideas, make plans, understand and appreciate one another. 6. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Government of Botswana recognises the importance of languages and culture in socio- economic development. In the National Development Plan 10 (NDP 10) we recognize that the country’s diverse cultures, languages and traditions are irreplaceable treasures of value that need to be preserved, promoted and appreciated. 7. My Ministry has also set up an advisory structure; the National Languages Committee which advises on issues related to language development in the country. The membership of the committee comprises different cultural organisations, linguists and cultural activists, many of whom are the organisations I referred to above. 8. Furthermore, Government has ratified the 2003 Convention on the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH). One of the key tenets of the convention is to raise awareness and facilitate the safeguarding of ICH elements at local and international levels through oral traditions and expressions, using mainly local languages as vehicles of transmission. 9. Bagaetsho, Government has established various mechanisms and programmes meant to promote the development of languages in Botswana in sync with the National Policy on Culture. One such programme in my Ministry is the Arts and Culture Grant which has been allocated P5.6m this year. This is a financial assistance scheme which supports community initiatives in undertaking different arts and culture activities including documentation of languages, community cultural festivals, capacity building workshops, regional and national fairs, talent search programmes etc. 10. Another of the programmes undertaken by my Ministry is the President’s Day Competitions. In these competitions, artists are allowed to use any language of their choice including mother tongue in their songs. This is a deliberate effort to try and promote and preserve local languages and heritage thereof. 11. Director of Ceremonies; I am proud to note that number of artists from the Boteti Sub District have competed at President’s Day competitions even at National level over the years. Special mention in this regard goes to Mme Goitsemang Makasu (setinkane player) of Letlhakane and Mme Anju Lucas (setinkane player) of Malatswai,both of whom have been winners in these competitions. The two have even showcased their artistry internationally in Sweden and China respectively. 12. As artists may be aware, February is the month for registration for the President’s Day Competitions and it is currently on-going until 28 February 2014. Please register in large numbers and prepare yourselves thoroughly for the upcoming competition. I would also like to encourage you to form a committee to run these competitions in your area. 13. Other than just speaking the different languages, it is critical to document local languages as a way of safeguarding them for posterity. It is pleasing to note that some communities, mainly through local and community cultural organisations, are taking a lead in promoting and documenting local languages. They have developed grammars, orthographies and also produced books in local languages at different levels. Such organisations include Tomela ya Puo, RETENG Multi-cultural Coalition, Mbungu Wa Kathimana, Otjingirine, Kamanakao, Chelwa ya Shekgalahari and Khwedom Council. 14. Ladies and Gentlemen, As part of the effort to celebrate Botswana cultural, artistic and linguistic diversity, last year my Ministry started consulting Batswana on the possibility of our country ratifying the 2005 Convention on the Protection & Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Consultations have so far been held in places such as Tsabong, Ghanzi, Maun, Francistown to name but a few. Being part of this International Agreement will most definitely complement our already existing programmes and initiatives in the protection and promotion of our diverse cultural expressions, including most importantly, our languages. 15. Ladies and Gentlemen, As we promote and preserve our local languages, we should be mindful of the importance of appreciating the languages of other nations. We live in a global world and being able to speak the languages of other nations will improve our chances of making socio-economic gains and being competitive in the global arena. Considering that a large number of young people are unemployed, I would encourage them to not only know the local languages but also to learn and master other international languages such as French, Spanish, German etc. This will give them a competitive advantage in the international job market. 16. Bagaetsho, we cannot ignore the decline in the use of our local languages especially among our youth. This poses real danger to the transmission of our values, beliefs, traditions and our culture in general. The modernization and development of these languages presents an opportunity for the building of a strong moral fabric of our society, lest other nations through their languages and cultures will swallow us into extinction. 17. In 2008, the National Languages Committee developed a booklet on the different languages of Botswana called Our Language Our Pride and the booklet has since been reviewed. I am happy to launch the 2nd edition of the book today here in Letlhakane. I believe that the book will contribute significantly to existing literature and have a positive effect in terms of language development in our country. 18. Lastly, I would like to thank the District and Village leadership, the organising committee and all those who worked hard to make this day a success. Rea Leboga Bagaetsho! 19. On that note, I wish to declare commemoration of the 2014 Languages Day officially opened. Ke a leboga
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