In their attempts to have Sepulana approved as one of the official languages in Mpumalanga province; the Mapulaneng Writer’s Association recently introduced and launched six newly published novels written in Sepulana on Friday, the 5th of April 2019 at the Malele Tribal Office hall.
Sepulana is a non-official community language spoken by most people in Bushbuckridge. The launch, which was attended by representatives from the local municipality, education department, local libraries, teachers’ unions and others, was a memorable gathering, regarded as a historic day by those in attendance.
Speaking on behalf of the writer’s association; Goodenough Mashego told Bushbuckridge News; “I am very happy with the launch today, it shows that the Mapulana speaking people are working hard to see to it that the Sepulana language gains the recognition it deserves. We have written many books, but only published six so far, while others are still in the process of being edited”.
“There is a saying that goes, ‘no nation has ever developed in a foreign language’, therefore, as Mapulana, if we lose touch with our language, there’s no way we will develop because the language was formed by our forefathers, and developing it should be our way of paying them back.” He added by saying that the association is in the process of translating the New Testament version of the bible and other novels.
In 2014, the Languages Act in the province designated English, Afrikaans, Isindebele and SiSwati as the four official languages of the province, however, in Bushbuckridge; the majority of people speak Xitsonga and Sepulana.
He said, has had a direct negative impact on the people of this region, “this simply means we have been learning everything in foreign languages while we have our own mother tongue which is continuously suppressed.”
Mashego further said that Sepulana has developed from a dialect into a community language, which makes it one step behind ahead of other dialects and closer to being an official language, “When I asked why Sepulana has not been officialised, I was told that it’s because there’s no system in place that has ever promoted one community language into an official language since 1994.
However, he also mentioned that, with the writer’s association chairperson, Billy Malele, now being part of The Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB), the dream is achievable.