WINDHOEK – Many Namibians, especially young people are slowly losing interest in their vernacular languages because of the dominance of the English language.
This is according to author Nangula Hamwaalwa who recently launched her second Oshikwanyama book titled Ulilifa iho likanifa. Ulilifa iho likanifa is a fiction novel named after an Oshiwambo proverb that means ‘be wise with your choice in life, bad choices might put you into trouble’.
“I have realised that most people are now fluent in English than their mother tongues. Our children are not taught how to speak, read, and write in our vernacular languages like before. It is our responsibilities as writers to promote and develop our languages for the next generations,” emphasised Hamwaalwa.
She added: “In Oshiwambo we have a proverb that says “if you don’t know where you’re coming from, you would not know where you’re going” it’s with this background that l wrote this book to embrace, learn and preserve our local languages.
She said there is a belief among many young people that speaking vernacular languages is associated with the non-educated.
Ulilifa iho likanifa is Hamwaalwa’s second book, after publishing ‘Pendapala Om’nona’ last year.
Ulilifa iho likanifa is excellent to all readers especially the youth who are facing challenges like peer pressure, death of their parents at an early age, unemployment, and challenges of not being gifted in school. It will also motivate young parents to teach their children how to approach challenges and teach them skills on how to handle difficult situations in life. It encourages the girls to be aware and respect their value as women in the society,” Hamwaalwa said.
Hamwaalwa said, apart from lack of funds to publish the book, it was also a challenge to get an Oshiwambo professional editor as most people have forgotten the language and they are not fluent enough.
“Through this book, l have developed a love of writing and l will not hesitate to write more, only if my readers promise to keep reading,” she said.
Speaking at the launch of Ulilifa iho likanifa Namibian musician, Ndasuunje Shikongeni, commonly known as Papa Shikongeni said many young people are losing respect for their vernacular languages because their level of intelligence and education is measured by how fluent they are in foreign languages.
“If a person speaks their vernacular in public, especially Oshiwambo speaking people, society will label that person as uncivilised and boring. It is totally wrong because people are supposed to have pride in our own languages.”
Shikongeni encouraged Namibian authors to mostly write in their vernacular languages to keep African languages relevant.