Btv, RB1 desecrating Setswana Language

Radio Botswana and Botswana Television must really get their act together! Their news reading leaves so much to be desired. The newsreaders have little regard if any at all for Standard Tswana – they desecrate the language with so much impunity. They have developed an unabashed preponderance for their individual ethnic or tribal dialects whenever they read the news on national radio or television! It’s as if Setswana does not have an orthography that has been codified in grammars developed from the constituent dialects of the various groupings in the country! Worse still, it’s as if this orthography is not contained in Tswana Dictionaries! Such tools and instruments ought to be accessible to the television and radio presenters and newsreaders as well as writers to ensure that at all times the distinction between the Spoken and Written Setswana is clear and unambigous even to a visitor, tourist or non-citizen. We owe it to ourselves to reclaim our language! We cannot talk of cultural rennaissance while simultaneously desecrating the medium that must express that culture! It’s delf-defeating, an exercise in futility, to say the least! At the rate at which we are going, it seems as if both television and radio hierachies have connived in a covert operation to annihilate the Setswana Language from the face of the earth! The total disregard for the language has assumed legendary proportions! Just this week I heard one newsreader saying, “Banna ba le thataro” – referring to the number of men that went on a lion hunting expedition– and I thought to myself, we cannot sit and watch helplessly while our heritage goes up in smoke. I remembered a conversation I recently had with a fellow pilgrim – a Venda native working in South Africa. We were attending a service at Mfolo, Soweto and he told me of how Zulu King, Goodwill Zwelithini had ptevailed over public broadcaster, SABC to expunge the word ‘Bayete’ from one of their plays because it was misrepresenting the Zulu culture! And in another incident the Zulu royal house once more demanded of the SABC to remove a MoTswana newsreader from reading Zulu news because she was not able to pronpunce certain Zulu words properly, and indeed the SABC acceded to the request! And this got me thinking, why can’t we do the same here in Botswana if we want to preserve the sanctity and prestige of our Setswana language? Once you start working for a national broadcaster you automatically discipline your tongue to the Standard Language used. You defer to its idiomatic expressions, its semantics, syntax, pronounciations and other variables that define the Standard. You can’t pretend not to understand this! We expect our newsreaders at the national radio and television to do better. Infact, we must ask the management of Btv and RB 1 to correct this anomaly by assigning properly trained reporters to assignments and through proper monitoring. It’s a shame for a national radio station and national television to desecrate the national language! It used to be fun to listen to a certain notorious newsreader vandalising SeTswana with his peculiar pronounciations, but it ain’t funny no more to hear and watch as many others join the bandwagon to mutilate our national language. This abomination has the potential to adversely impact results in both basic and tertiary education if it is left unattended! Let us stop speaking versions of SeNgwato, SeKgatla, SeNgwaketse, SeKalanga or SeTawana, or SeRolong or whaever dialect on national broadcasters because we associate with it, but speak SeTswana. We all know that we are a multilingual, multicultural society, but even then, SeTswana is a national language spoken throughout the country, and must of necessity, be accorded the respect it deserves. This notwithstanding the challenges and other deepseated arguments by so-called minority languages – I for one, prefer a situation where we respect our heritage! If in future SeTswana develops into a hybrid of all dialects spoken in the country, I have no problem, but for now, I only ask that the broadcasters respect this language!