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Indigenous Languages Initiative for the media

From Left to Right: Dr S. Angombe; Prof J. Diescho; Honourable Joel Kaapanda; Prof J. Kangira; Dr. P.A. Mbenzi; Dr L. Namaseb (Photograph by Cecilia Iita.)

From Left to Right: Dr S. Angombe; Prof J. Diescho; Honourable Joel Kaapanda; Prof J. Kangira; Dr. P.A. Mbenzi; Dr L. Namaseb (Photograph by Cecilia Iita.)

The Namibia Institute of Public Administration (NIPAM) and the Department of Language and Literature Studies at the University of Namibia (UNAM) on 4 December joined forces in the launch of what is dubbed the NIPAM-UNAM Indigenous Languages Initiative at NIPAM in Olympia. It is a culmination of consultations NIPAM held with Unam, NIED, NTA and Polytechnic of Namibia during which it was discovered that Unam has been working on this project already.

The launch of this Indigenous Languages Initiative comes after a year of consultations and meetings between teams of academics led by Professor Joseph Diescho, NIPAM’s Executive Director, and Professor Jairos Kangira, the Head of the Department of Language and Literature Studies at UNAM. The NIPAM-UNAM Indigenous Languages Initiative comes into being at the behest of Hon Joel Kaapanda, Minister of Information and Technology, after he realized that media personnel had big challenges when it comes to communicating news from English to Indigenous Languages and vice versa. Hon Kaapanda then tasked the University of Namibia, through its Department of Language and Literatures Studies, to develop Indigenous Languages in order to facilitate translations and dissemination of information through the print and electronic media. The minister also bemoaned the lack of technological terminologies in Indigenous Languages in Namibia.UNAM and NIPAM began collaborating on this project soon after the Hon Minister’s request for UNAM to redress the Indigenous Languages’ situation in the country. The aim of this initiative is to create a platform to assist those who communicate to citizens in their indigenous languages and strengthen capacity of indigenous language translators for purposes of building one Namibia, one Nation; and do it with pride. Words common to the English language, such as democracy, transparency, fairness, whistle-blower, land-rights or dispute, amongst others, do not exist in all indigenous languages. The initiative will seek to find or develop terms that adequately describe these and other concepts in the various indigenous languages and thereby assist local people to understand the discourse correctly.

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