Molo, unjani? Hallo, how are you? Ngubani igama lakho? What is your name? Yimalini? How much does it cost? Iphi indlu yangasese? Where is the bathroom?
These are only a few of the Xhosa phrases that visitors to the Woordfees can learn as part of the #Amagama project.
This project is being presented by students of the Faculty of Education for the first time this year. A group of 13 education students with Xhosa as major are on duty in the festival hub each day to teach festival-goers 10 new words per day.
“The theme of the Woordfees for 2018 is ‘100%’, and it worked out that festival-goers who learn 10 new Xhosa words every day would have learned a total of 100 words during the course of the festival. From there the #Amagama project – Amagama means ‘vocabulary’ in Xhosa,” explains Jana Nel, part-time lecturer at the Faculty of Education and organiser of the project.
“The aim of the project is to cross language as well as cultural barriers so that people can show each other mutual understanding and respect. When one person reaches out to another by greeting them in their mother tongue, asking them how they are and saying goodbye, it already makes a big difference. I am privileged to speak Xhosa myself and have often enjoyed the positive advantages of communicating with Xhosa speakers in their mother tongue,” she continues.
According to the students they don’t only talk to festival goers about the words of the day, but also about the words that they know already. They also have conversations about language in general and the value of mastering a few words or phrases in another of South Africa’s official languages.
As former president Nelson Mandela said: “When you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”
Find the students at the following places: Bloekomhoek, Plataan Cafe, HB Thom theater, Erfurthuis, Endler’s foyer and the meeting point of the commuter service in Ryneveld Street.
Source Stellenbosch University