Indigenous languages have potential to stimulate sustainable food sovereignity
Gweru (New Ziana)- THE preservation and promotion of indigenous languages, cultures and heritage can lead to sustainable food sovereignty as well as cultural, social and economic development, an official said on Monday.
Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda said this at the launch national commemorations of The African Languages Week and the International Mothers Language Day at the Midlands State University in Gweru.
He said conferences and declarations on spurring African languages that were held in the past, attest to the urgent need for Africans to assert their linguistic sovereignty in both the private and public sectors.
Food sovereignty is different from food security in both approach and politics.
Food security does not distinguish where food comes from, or the conditions under which it is produced and distributed. National food security targets are often met by sourcing food produced under environmentally destructive and exploitative conditions, and supported by subsidies and policies that destroy local food producers but benefit agribusiness corporations.
On the other hand, food sovereignty emphasizes ecologically appropriate production, distribution and consumption, social-economic justice and local food systems as ways to tackle hunger and poverty and guarantee sustainable food security for all peoples.
It advocates trade and investment that serve the collective aspirations of society. It promotes community control of productive resources; agrarian reform and tenure security for small-scale producers; agro-ecology; biodiversity; local knowledge; the rights of peasants, women, indigenous peoples and workers; social protection and climate justice.
“In this regard, Africa must extol the linguistic usage and application of its languages because they are the life blood of communicating information and ideas as well as being the vector that defines African humanity and its cultural heritage in the matrix of sustainable food sovereignty,” said Mudenda.
“Indeed, our languages are the epicentre of defining our humanity, personhood and our celebrated cultural heritage.”
Mudenda said there was need to employ African languages in advancing new technologies, mechanisation and appropriate farming practices which enhance production and productivity in order to achieve food security in Africa, anchored on the people’s respected customs and beliefs regarding the spirituality of land tenure.
He applauded the objective of the commemorations, which among others, is to promote the indispensable role that vernacular languages play in promoting peaceful coexistence as well as pivotal enablers of inclusivity and sustainable development.
“It comes at an opportune time when the indigenous languages and knowledge systems are facing the imminent threat of extinction,” he said.
The theme; “African Languages for Sustainable Food Security, Cultural and Socio-Economic Development for the Africa We Want” should be contextualised within the historical precursor of Africa’s colonisation, which stunted the flourishing of African languages, Mudenda said.
He said the government saw it proper to translate the Constitution into all the 14 officially recognised indigenous languages courtesy of the Midlands University’s National Language Institute.
A nation or continent that fails to develop its languages, cultures and heritage become scattered across the face of the earth with a possibility of extinction, said Mudenda.
Commemoration of the African Languages week is a precursor of the National Culture Month to be launched by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Binga on May 27.
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