Clarion call for languages institute

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WINDHOEK – Language experts have echoed the outgoing Minister of Information and Communication Technology (MICT), Joel Kaapanda’s appeal for the establishment of an indigenous languages institute in Namibia as such an institute would address, among others, the use of indigenous languages to promote democracy.

Late last year, Kaapanda wrote a letter to the University of Namibia (Unam) Vice Chancellor Professor Lazarus Hangula suggesting the establishment of the indigenous languages institute.

Speaking at the celebration of Indigenous Languages in Namibia on Tuesday organised by the Namibia Institute of Public Administration and Management (Nipam), Unam’s Head of the Department of Languages and Literature Studies, Professor Jairos Kangira said, “We concurred with Honourable Kaapanda’s bright proposal about the Unam spearheading this noble project.”

Kangira and Unam his colleagues, Dr Petrus Mbenzi, Dr Levi Namaseb, and Professor Jakura Kavari, have started working on the MICT’s proposal in earnest. “The coming in of Nipam through the office of Professor Joseph Diescho gave the project the right impetus and urgency that culminated in the launch of the indigenous languages initiative last year,” Kangira said.

“The institute will promote public awareness on the importance of indigenous languages and culture in Namibia. This institute will conduct research on each indigenous language in Namibia and it will also teach indigenous languages,” reiterated Kangira, adding that it will further ensure each indigenous language in Namibia gets serious attention.

He noted that the institute will similarly publish dictionaries, monographs, and other reading and reference materials in indigenous languages, to promote individual identities of indigenous communities, preserve heritage, and pass on the heritage to future generations in indigenous languages and to change attitudes and perceptions about indigenous languages.

“You are leaving a legacy which the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology should continue to uphold and continue working with Unam, Nipam and all stakeholders towards the establishment of the fully-fledged Namibia Institute of Indigenous Languages (NIIL). The institute will also use indigenous languages to promote democracy, and cultivate the principle of good governance,” he added.
On his part, Kaapanda applauded stakeholders for answering to his call reminding them that he does not want a department of languages within Unam but rather a fully-fledged university under the name of Namibia Institute of Indigenous Languages.

Kaapanda said due to the lack of skills in indigenous languages, government has failed to convey massages to its people but with the fully-fledged indigenous languages institute, government will easily convey massages without the massage being distorted.

“I assure you that government will support the initiative as this will contribute to nation building,” he added.
Nipam’s executive director Diescho, Professor Kavari, Dr Herbert Diaz and Mbenzi, among others, attended the celebration.

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