On 23 February, over 500 children joined UNIC Harare and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in commemorating International Mother Language Day. The children from Children in Performing Arts Workshop (CHIPAWO) Centres in Harare Norton, Domboshava, Chitungwiza and Bindura, performed traditional dance, drama and recited poetry in different local languages thereby demonstrating the cultural diversity and multilingualism existing in Zimbabwe.
The children also made totemic praises to demonstrate the need to master different and rich cultural forms of expressions and to emphasize and enlighten the audience on the importance of totems, their role in promoting identity and to strengthen relations. In addition, Emerald Hill School for the deaf taught some children sign language.
UNIC also mounted an exhibition of UN publications translated into Shona and Ndebele. These included the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Calendar of UN Observances.
Further, UNIC translated the International Mother Language Day message issued by the UNESCO’s Director-General, which was read in Shona at the event.
There are more than 16 languages spoken in Zimbabwe. These include Chewa, Chibarwe, English, Kalanga, Koisan, Nambya, Ndau, Ndebele, Shangani, Shona, sign language, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda and Xhosa.
International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of UNESCO in November 1999, and adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2009. The Day has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism and to highlight greater awareness of the importance of mother tongue education.