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The desecration of Ndebele language: Let's Take Action

28 Aug 2017 at 06:53hrs | Views
Barely a day goes by without the reckless publication of documents that show backhand treatment and outright impunity for the Ndebele Language. While the trend has been government and fast foods companies, the impunity has even spread to book publishers who occupy a strategic role not only in the education of our children, but also in the preservation of the language.

It is disheartening to note that the Step In Environmental Science 1 is littered with so much spelling and even grammatical errors in its Ndebele translations. This is unacceptable! This is a grade one book, one of the key stages of education, the first time some of our children are seeing their language in writing. As a former book editor in Zimbabwe and now an educator, I am more than aware of the power of the written word, especially at this critical formidable age of grade 1.
The book's desecration of Ndebele language is not just a one-time mistake, it is more of the norm than exception. I googled "Pearson Education Zimbabwe" and pulled a flyer found on the website below. Note that all Pearson Africa books are housed under a South African website hence the web address starts with za.

The brochure has so many grammatical, punctuation or spelling mistakes in almost all the Ndebele products. I will quickly highlight some here.

1.Ugwalo "Izaga lomdabuko wazo": The author Passmore Moyo is referred to as "Umlogi" and ulobe ngolimi "olugezwisiswa" ngabantu. "Lomo" ozizwa ewomele … avukuthe "julo". I could go on and on about this one. The irony is that the flyer claims the book will revive the Ndebele language!

2. Ugwalo "Wangenza mntanami" says "ulimi lukaMthawakazi", and then says"Pho njengoba kuthiwa inyembezi zomuntu omdala zithelela umnyamake. The punctuation and word division is atrocious.

3. Ugwalo "Khakho ongathi kle kimi": Come on this is just four simple words "Kakho ongathi klwe kimi", what is "Khakho ongathi kle kimi?

4.  Page 4: Ndebele (Books)  Inyathela Ngolutsha SB - Form 1 9781779031815. There is a big difference between "Inyathela" and "Nyathela".
In case you have forgotten, this is a flyer and not a book. The question is how many deliberate and reckless errors do we have in Ndebele books from Longman Zimbabwe, Pearson Education Zimbabwe and Consultus Publishing Services (CPS) that are all part of what used to be Longman Zimbabwe and are actively publishing books in Ndebele?
As I said, my aim here is to call us into action. Here is what we all need to do:

 - Email and or call:
1.    Mwazvita Madondo, the Managing Director of Longman Zimbabwe, the Publisher for CPS and the agent for Pearson Zimbabwe.
2.    Her email addresses are,, or call   +263 462 1661/6,
3.    Call or email the Sales Reps for Matabeleland and Midlands. Their contacts are
 - Stanley Mtombeni Email: Cellphone: 071 273 5872
 - Daniel Ndlovu Email: Cellphone: 0733 781 331

Note that these email addresses and phone numbers are listed in the flyer or websites under the business contacts hence publishing them is not a violation of any statutes. Please, do not publish any of their personal contacts as this is a violation of their privacy and rights.

If you call or email, please be respectful and emphasize that we are being motivated by the desire to see the wrong being ameliorated and not to insult or shout at them. Let us ask them to pullout the mentioned book, Step In Environmental Science 1 and other books with reckless Ndebele errors. Please do not threaten or insult them, be civil and polite. I am doing the same and we will continue the discussions on what to do next if we do not get a favourable response.

Remember in South Africa, Exclusive Books pulled out Bonang Matheba's book from the shelves over grammar issues yet it is a luxury book. Our children across the country deserve the same treatment.
To conclude, let me share a trivia from my studies in publishing at Oxford Brookes University. A name withheld British book publisher was trying to write "matters of public arena" and erroneously omitted "l" on public. The result was that the book was pulled from the shelves and the editor was dismissed. We laughed about it as we were students and the lecturer would always say, "remember the matters of pubic arena"!

Publishing is not a child's play!

Phithizela Ngcobo is a former editor at two publishing houses in Zimbabwe and holds a Master of Arts in Publishing from Oxford Brookes University. He writes in his personal capacity.

Source - Phithizela Ngcobo
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