By Lineo Segoete
Before I go any further may I just say, I acknowledge the irony of this writing considering the language in which it is crafted; nevertheless I will continue and express my thought. I love Sesotho! This is not breaking news I know but please hear me out. Sesotho is a very potent and poetic language; I think it is pretty easy to speak and connect with its meaning even though many of the words have dual (or more) meanings, for example; Thato means both ’Desire’ and ‘Will’ as well as ‘Favourite’-depending on the context. Khutsa means ‘be tranquil’ or ‘be quiet/silent’, although these contexts are a bit closer to one another, you get the idea.
Every time I have the opportunity to practice my Sesotho I take it. Being Mosotho implies that I ought to be fluent in the language by default yet this is not the case, not just for me but for many of my peers too. We do not know how to speak the language well because many do not recognise the value in preserving this lyrical language. To tell the truth, I am revising this habit of writing my articles in English and shifting my focus to writing more in Sesotho. In the interim I am improvising by speaking and writing both languages together.
If Sesotho means so much to me, why am I writing in English? The truth of the matter is English is also an official language in this country and is no less legitimate than Sesotho as far as means of communication are concerned. Yes there is controversy surrounding how this came to be. However, this is how things stand presently and so we must acknowledge it. I write in English because I believe in eloquence of expression. I absolutely love clarity and confidence, especially in oral communication. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for me I managed to master such to some extent through this ‘foreign’ language. To me it is a tool, one that enables me to appreciate, share, compel, reflect and even connect with my environment and those around me. A tool I am acquainted with well enough for it to serve its desired function.
Needless to say my usage of English makes me more prone to English traditions than those of Sesotho; hence I am fully aware how critical it is that I learn Sesotho as best I can. Our culture, history and customs are a work of art, embedded in Sesotho, one that deserves exploration and love. Sesotho as an indigenous language is an endangered species, meaning all of us owe it to ourselves to play a part in preserving and enlarging it. This said, I recognise now more than ever how imperative it is for me to master Sesotho if I am to contribute to its advancement as a tool and national treasure. Soon rather than later, these words will be translated and you will read them in Sesotho. Likhomo ‘chaba sa Thesele.