Are African languages dead? Long live African languages! This was the theme of a panel discussion that was organised in commemoration of International Mother Language Day, as well as Black History Month. The library had the privilege of collaborating with the Bokamoso literature club in hosting this event on the 20th of February 2020. The NWU community did not disappoint and came in numbers, both staff and students filled the venue to capacity which indicated to the organisers the need and interest of such gatherings and discussions. The four distinguished panelists that were invited were:
- Dr Eileen Pooe: NWU Setswana department
- Mr Siviwe Bangani: NWU LIS
- Ms Thulisile bhuda: NWU PhD candidate, IKS
- Mr Sello Tatai: Maftown book club founder
The programme opened with a poetry delivery from the renowned author and poet, Ms Lerato Mileng. Her poem, performed in Setwana, accompanied by Djembe Drums set a powerful tone on reclaiming heritage.
The preparation and expertise of the panel was unparalleled. Each panelist was provided with a question prior to the event which they prepared for and it was used to open the discussion. The panelist questions were set as follow:
- Dr Pooe: What is the significance of writing in African languages in a contemporary society?
- Mr Bangani: What roles do libraries play in the development of African languages?
- Ms Bhuda: How do African languages relate to IKS?
- Mr Tatai: What do you see as the role of book clubs in the promotion of African authors and literature?
After each panelist answered their question, the Q & A session took place. The room resonated with excitement as guests were given the opportunity to direct their questions to the panel, which the panel received and responded to with the same energy. The programme ended at 13:00 with a poetry delivery from Ms Evangelist Mazibuko, a member of the Bokamoso literature club and light lunch was served.
This event is one of many ways in which the library is attempting to stay visible, relevant and be a dynamic and integral part of the NWU community, as well as the communities in which they exist. Collaborations with various organisations from both within and outside the university walls ensures that the LIS remains part of the conversations that are continuously taking place within the country and the globe, thus standing a better chance of being part of the solution, and also fulfil the LIS vision of being a leading university library in Africa and beyond.
Article written by: Boitumelo Masilo, Faculty Librarian