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Marazanye fomenting tribal hatred

THE letter by Kudakwashe Marazanye (Independent, April 23) refers. I find the author’s views alarmist, in very bad taste and atrocious to ethnic relations in Zimbabwe. He sounds more tribalist th

an the newspaper he is vilifying.

Maybe I am missing something, but I fail to follow his logic. Can somebody explain to me what is wrong or tribalist about using the word isitshwala instead of sadza?

Marazanye sees tribalist-Ndebeles everywhere – on radio, on TV, at colleges, in dark corners, and, for goodness’ sake, in musicians’ names! It seems the sight of an Ndebele word scares Marazanye. I do not wish to make inferences about his childhood, but in his typical Freudian fixation Marazanye suggests that the Ndebele owe the Shona (meaning himself) tonnes of apologies for the latter’s generosity.

That “Ndebele words like indaba, mafikizolo, lobola, and bambazonke have gained nationwide usage” is evidence of how the Shona have had to “bend over backwards for the promotion of good ethnic relations” according to Marazanye. I doubt if the generality of the Shona share this sentiment.

Yes, cases of tribal prejudice in either direction do occur in many societies the world over. However, Marazanye’s instances seem to be a transposition of his own tribal prejudices against the Ndebele. They sound like self-fulfilling prophecies emanating from his motivated perception of Ndebele-favouring tribal imbalances in Zimbabwe.

I did not see the article in which the Chronicle acted tribalistically by using the word isitswala instead of sadza, but I do not see how this should have caused so much alarm and despondence to anybody else but Marazanye. I stand to be corrected, but I understand the Chronicle was established as a regional paper. I also stand to be corrected, but I think in spite of its national presence now, the paper still has a larger circulation in Matabeleland and Midlands than the other regions.

Is it then not logical for the paper to use terms that the majority of its readers are familiar with? In any case if he understands, as he has demonstrated, that isitshwala means sadza as most Shona speakers would, where is his problem? If Marazanye truly believes in the “grain and spirit of national reconciliation”, what is then wrong with the use of Ndebele words on national radio and newspapers? I do not see anything wrong with the use of either an Ndebele or a Shona word in an English article or presentation if this will assist the targeted audience to understand the message better. However, it would be practically tedious to use both each time an indigenous word were to be used instead of an English one.

As further evidence of tribalism in favour of the Ndebele, Marazanye cites Prof Makhurane’s speech in which he urged authorities at Joshua Nkomo Polytechnic to recruit “locals”, which he declares to be “a euphemism for Ndebele”. What has become tribal about an affirmation action policy, which is being used in many other areas to address developmental imbalances? I challenge him, if he has a child, to attempt to find him/her a place at a government school in Harare, in an area where he does not reside. Chances are that they will refer him back to a school in his area, because they give preference to “locals”.

Ethnic prejudices are among the worst societal ills the world is fighting and therefore should be exposed whenever they occur. However, people must not foment tribal hatred by inventing evidence of tribalism where it does not exist.

Jerot Sibanda,


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