Demand for own language

Alex Matlala

Alex Matlala

The Modjadji royal council and family in Bolobedu have given the Pan South African Language Board (PanSalb) until December 28 to accept Khelobedu as the 12th official language in the country.

The royal family has petitioned PanSalb, the national Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Communications and the Limpopo department of education. They claim that Khelobedu is not a dialect and deserves to be treated as a language on its own similar to Tshivenda and Xitsonga.

The family also claims that the fact that pupils from Bolobedu schools translate Khelobedu into Sepedi, was a reason to make them fail their examinations.

Mathole Motshekga, chairman of the Kara Heritage Institute and lawyer to the Modjadji royal family, said that children comprehended better when they spoke and wrote in their mother tongue.

"Had pupils been speaking and writing in their mother tongue, there is no doubt that the pass rate would be higher," he said.

Motshekga, who heads a group of intellectuals leading the Khelobedu project, added: "Khelobedu is not a Sotho language or a dialect of Sesotho sa Lebowa. Khelobedu and Venda belong to the Shona and Swahili cluster of languages.

"The Bolobedu of Modjadji is an off-shoot of ba-Rozwi-Vakalanga of Mapungubwe and Great Zimbabwe who communicated and still communicate in Khelobedu," he said.

In response, Ndo Mangala of the department of education in Limpopo said that proper channels needed to be followed when making this kind of request.