Mother Tongue Teaching in EC

In an effort to improve the standard of education, the Eastern Cape is the first province
in the country to move towards implementing mother tongue-based teaching, learning
and assessment in the foundation phases.

Already 74 primary schools in the Cofimvaba district have adopted the model, which is envisaged to be rolled out in the other 22 education districts in the province.

This week language experts, subject advisers, education officials, members of parliament and officials from the office of premier Noxolo Kiviet met for a two-day workshop at the Stirling Education Leadership Institute in East London to craft a standardized dictionary to be used for maths, science and technology at schools.

Xhosa textbooks, other than the normal English-worded material, will be provided to pupils. Children in the foundation phases (Grades 1 to 3) in the district are also to write their Annual National Assessment (ANA) exams this year in Xhosa.

Last year, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga released the country’s ANA results for foundation and intermediate phases (Grades 4 to 6) in the country.

Literacy and numeracy tests were conducted at a total of 164 schools in the Eastern Cape – and the results proved poor.

Grade 3 pupils scored 39% in literacy and 40% in maths, while Grade 6 pupils scored lower, managing only 29% in both subjects. Eastern Cape education department language policy manager Naledi Mbudeshale, who is driving the project, said the move by the district would improve the ANA results.

“I know that there are some fears that children will not know English and that these children will not have a bright future and there will not be a space for them at higher institutions of learning but these are untrue and unfounded,”
said Mbudeshale.

“These children are going to be taught English, but they will learn other subjects in their mothertongue. English will be just a resource subject.”

Mbudeshale said the Cofimvaba district had offered to teach the children in Xhosa because children were battling to understand their subjects in English. The bilingual approach would still be implemented, but Xhosa would be used as the first language instead of English.

She plans to present a report on the matter to education MEC Mandla Makupula and acting superintendent-general Mthunywa Ngonzo. It would then be handed to the Bhisho legislature.

Mbudeshale said publishers would be consulted to write books
based on standardised concepts. The department’s deputy director-
general of institutional operations management, Sithembele Zibi said the move would improve the standard of education. “It’s time to reclaim our status. In the past we were ahead compared to other provinces. We used to offer education to children coming from other provinces. Now we are behind,” said Zibi. “We have a challenge of shortages of teachers and those who are skilled in these subjects. Maybe this is the way to go and will ultimately lead to the improvement of matric results.”

The project comes as the ANC in the Eastern Cape attempts to push for children to be taught in their mother tongue and vernacular languages across the country.

The province has already had its policy proposal to have Xhosa speaking children in the Eastern Cape taught in their mother tongue accepted at the party’s national policy conference last month.

ANC provincial spokesman Mlibo Qoboshiyane confirmed that there were
plans to discuss the implementation of mother tongue education to the
other provinces at the party’s elective conference in Mangaung in

Qoboshiyane said about 90% of the subjects were currently taught in
English and children whose first language is not English were battling
to understand lessons.

He said the proposal had received a lot of support from academics and
researchers from universities in the province. “What we were
advocating [at the recent conference] was the establishment of an
African Language Institute.

“This was accepted by the plenary of the policy conference so we can
have more educators of language[s] we are talking about.

“We said these steps must be taken to ensure that the second phase of
our transition respects our mother tongue. There was a total
acceptance of our proposal” said Qoboshiyane.

The following report first appeared in the Saturday Dispatch (14/07/2012), written by its education reporter – Msindisi Fengu.


Educating Xhosa Men

Written by Unathi Kondile in isiXhosa, here.

Translated by Pumla Dineo Gqola, below:

Tetse, a lad of 20, lived with his mother, near Matatiele. Every year he would broach this question to her, “O’lady, when will it be my turn to attend initiation school?”. This question was echoed each December and July.

Last year, the youngster decided to enter traditional manhood initiation without parental permission. He joined a group of boys whose school in the Matatiele hills would fall under Tat’ uJwarha’s supervision. Jwarha was a man now famous for the meandering walk of the intoxicated. A skillful traditional surgeon in bygone days, alcohol abuse had long erased his talent.

The long and short of my tale is that Tetse did not graduate from initiation school. Rumour has it he died from dehydration and an unnamed ailment.  In 2011, he was among the 25 other initiates who died.

As I write this, July is again upon us, and, as is the case in many years, youngsters are itching and acting out in anticipation of their turn to be turned initiate. Not all of them will graduate to manhood. Some will be news headline fodder, and as readers we will be cautioned against traditional manhood initiation processes (ukwaluka). We will be told by Westerners and the fools among our own, controlled by the former, screaming “Change this custom”, “This is thuggery, boys are dying!” and so forth.

All of this because of the irresponsibility of Jwarha-types and uncontained excitement by the likes of Tetse.

If I appear to lay the blame at the feet of Jwarha and Tetse, this is by design. There is nothing amiss in the actual custom. When we speak of custom, we refer to the procedures of a people according to their faith systems.  In historical writing, Sonkqishe and others defined tradition as that which is adhered to in each home in accordance with that family’s belief system.  There would be customary correlation within the same family lineage (isiduko). There is also the belief that custom is medicine – that people who exists outside of it can fall ill or be badly behaved.

From the above, then, the source of contemporary problems with men and manhood is evident. Many men today emerge out of initiation schools not with custom but with bad behaviour. The textures of this need extensive investigation. There are also distracting (destructive) conflations of traditional manhood initiation (ukwaluka) with mere circumcision (ukwaluswa). This simplistic conflation of a process and an event is particularly evident in the noise on television and newspaper pages.

Traditional manhood initiation processes used to be a protected custom, but it has since become an openly discussed matter. What is troubling is how few Xhosa men have intervened into these discussions of what has gone wrong. I am not sure whether this is due to jealousy or civilisation. Jealousy seems to be at the heart of the matter for me. Otherwise, how do you explain those of us who have benefitted from the lessons of traditional manhood initiation (ukwaluka) refusing to pass on this very same wisdom to youngsters who come after us?  Is it because we no longer see the role of ukwaluka in society?  Then, how dare we exclaim in horror when youngsters deemed officially men are so crude in behaviour?

They rape old women and children, beat up women, terrorise communities, kill one another – ask for cigarettes and alcohol from boys, are openly intoxicated in public, and live for alcohol.

That is the situation. We have been so infatuated with “Western” ways of being that we have forgotten that before a person was a person through communion with others, a people were human through adherence to their own customs.

Perhaps all matters customary are hard to swallow for some because of the involvement of ancestry veneration, something new Christians are repulsed by. Why are our people so ready to worship imported gods when these are as unscientific as ours? Why is it so easy to make the leap of faith towards that of another but not towards our very own? While we look down on all matters ancestor related we worship at the very throne of other faith narratives.

Yes, faith is a private matter. You have a right to choose. But as a Xhosa person, your starting point should be custom and ancestry – referenced as a source of strength, growth and protection. Instead we are saddled with men who are not only badly behaved in communities and society at large, they also abdicate their responsibilities within families. This is a crisis.

We need to ask again: what is a man?

Is it enough to simply go through a stage and end the story with the celebrations that follow? Last I checked, being a man meant graduating from boyhood in accordance with ukwaluka. A man is he who has been counselled by experts who have gone before, along with other wise elders. A Xhosa man is he who takes care of royalty, leaders and protects office bearers as per African tradition. No man lives alone. When the home is beset by problems, a man seeks counsel from his peers. Such a man supports others in the community and ensures that his home is well nourished. These days you notice how women shoulder all of the responsibilities I have listed, while men choose the infantile behaviour of boys. Today’s “men” choose the easy way out.

Can such an individual still be called a man? No. Why do they even bother going to traditional manhood school (esuthwini) these days? Given how such men behave, it becomes easy to look down on ukwaluka as an ineffective custom. No wonder outsiders call for the elimination of ukwaluko; there is no discernable difference between boys and these new men.

As a man who continues to go home, I am pained when I visit initiates in rural villages and townships alike and find their traditional caretakers (amakhankatha) gone missing, the places of confinement for initiates (amabhoma) littered with beer bottles competing for space with KFC packages.  I see any random men from the environs taking liberties with these initiates, offering inappropriate advice. Why then should initiates take such an institution seriously as a dignified station and role? It has simply become procedure, another stage, just so they can also declare “I am a man” at the end.

This is a problem. If we take neither responsibility nor pride in our own custom, how dare we expect outsiders to take us seriously? The calls for the end of this custom will continue to gather momentum.

I predict that larger numbers of initiates will enter hospitals, where their amabhoma will be Ward this and that number. These numbers will explode because most children are singlehandedly raised by their mothers. Where are the fathers? They have gone astray. They are indifferent to who will initiate their sons. What do we think of this enormous burden we continue to place on these single mothers? Do we really expect that these women, who stay and parent, will knowingly enter their sons into this disastrous situation?

We have long ceased caring, and our carelessness will be our decline. We bear witness to the fruits of that disregard. Yet we keep asking ourselves, “what is wrong with today’s youth?” and “what is wrong with today’s men?” We threw away customs that built us and now we feign shock and horror.

Although it is forbidden to discuss the internal workings of the initiation process, we have come to a place where we need to deviate from this secrecy and start writing the procedures down. Otherwise, we run the risk of further damage by pseudo-experts. We have come to a juncture where we also need cultural Bibles, like other peoples in the world. We certainly cannot rely on traditional leaders on this count given the dire state of those positions. Let us open this discussion and get the support we need in order to strengthen one another in the open, rather than harm ourselves in private. The priority needs to be ensuring adherence to custom in order to see how we can improve our collective fate again.

We, Xhosa people, have elaborate leadership and governance structures, advice giving and rehabilitation mechanisms that predate and survive the introduction of “Western” styles of rule. For example, this past weekend I was at a Gugulethu joint called Corner Lounge, where I suddenly saw different types of brandies arrive along with a group of men who settled next to me. I soon realised from their conversation that all of this alcohol was compensation paid by two men: one who had beaten his wife up and another who had been badly behaved in the community.  Witnessing this made me happy to see traditional Xhosa dispute resolution practices at play. People get punished in Xhosa society in ways that quickly address the wrong. The first man’s wife was reassured by these other men that should he behave inappropriately again, they would sort him out.

Don’t we agree that punishment is universal in Xhosa idiom?

The solutions to our problems lie before our very eyes. Let us return to exploring what manhood is. What does it mean to be a Xhosa man?

Let me conclude.

I started out by pointing to the onset of July, some initiates have entered ukwaluka and some will not come out. We will be inundated by newspaper reportage on the evils of this custom. We will be unable to defend it. We will remain silent insisting on respecting the expected insider secrecy. We will miss an opportunity to educate society on the importance of making men, through education, respect, support and affirming counsel.

This custom tries to build, not to kill.

We will not ensure that those like Jwarha do not open their own initiation schools in the wild; we will not ensure that boys understand why they are there. We will not ensure that no boy enters without parental permission. We will not ensure that men in the community strengthen this custom or that we standardise its practice today.

While some say custom can embarrass us, I say to abandon it is to surrender the future.

Ayanda Mabulu vs Brett Murray

by Unathi Kondile

Firstly, I’d like to thank Brett Murray for his contribution to the arts.

Secondly, I wish I could deliver canapés and wine to all the South African households who have had the privilege of entering a gallery from the comfort of their homes, courtesy of our media’s walkabouts therein.

Thirdly, I’d like to talk about the state of the Art, in South Africa, as well as the neglected role of township / black artists in post-apartheid South Africa.

Let’s just rewind to 2010. An artist named Ayanda Mabulu. Pause. I thought this was a pseudonym at first, because this name and surname combo means “Afrikaners are expanding!” You have to love the irony of naming in Africa. Anyway, Ayanda Mabulu produces a piece titled “Ngcono ihlwempu kunesibhanxo sesityebi” (better a fool than a rich man’s nonsense, loosely translated). It’s exhibited at Worldart Gallery towards the end of 2010. This is it:

Without going into too much detail about the work (above), it shows President Jacob Zuma’s manhood in crutches and Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s manhood tied up as if it’s injured (both blurred out for the purposes of this site). Mabulu explained these representations as metaphors – the crutches on the president’s manhood indicate overuse and that it needs crutches to get by. Tutu’s tied up manhood alludes to how weakened the Archbishop has become, he is “incapacitated and ‘colonised’ by Western values – in pain, just like during initiation [circumcision].”

I would imagine such prominent penises would cause an outcry of bellowing proportions. But alas, calm prevailed, largely because this work remained in the elitist confines of the art world. Protected from the underdeveloped minds of those that aren’t acquainted to fine art. Protected from uncouth admirers who would gobble this up all too literally. Safe. ‘Outsiders’ could not access it and the media couldn’t give a toss about what some black artist had done.

Forward to today. Brett Murray produces The Spear which depicts the president of South Africa in a Lenin-like stance with his manhood dangling below. The City Press newspaper picks this spear up and runs with it. And boy do they run with it. The editor is beyond herself with bewilderment of selling papers to an art consuming market. She can’t wait. All those art connoisseurs buying her paper. Praise Murray! A few days later the ANC is up in arms about this depiction of the president. They’re even up in arms with the City Press, which gave a hand in the distribution… The rest is history, as they say. As all of this is relegated to the country’s latest frenzy – outcry on social media and only one or two iconoclastically inclined vandals are bold enough to do something about the work.

Question is: Why was there no outcry over Ayanda Mabulu’s depiction of president Zuma?

Yes, Brett Murray is a renowned artist (within his own or art circles), but not to the overwhelming majority that is against his work. Who he is is irrelevant to this outcry. So, why was there no outrage around Mabulu’s work? The answer to this is much more complex than because he is a black artist or it’s politics. The answer to this could tear South Africa’s art farce to pieces. Shred it. But today I do not feel like tearing anything. So I’ll be gentle. If we look at the current crop of black South African artists that are going places or have made it you will largely notice that their work revolves around identity: blackness and sexuality to be precise. Nothing else.

Whereas if you look at their white counterparts, who went to the same art institutions – they have the leisure of placing a box of Omo next to a box of Joko and calling that Joko Omo (Yoko Ono) in an art gallery. And praise prevails. If a black artist were to attempt to display such it would be ignored, laughed off as imbecility and not art. Only white artists are capable of conceptual art production. Blacks have to stick to the obvious “speak about yourself in your work! Tell us how lesbian you are, how black you feel, etcetera. Only.”

I could go on. But to keep this short, the reason Ayanda Mabulu’s artwork didn’t cause ripples is because  as far as art is concerned a black artist is intellectually incapable of producing a complex work – blacks are incapable of satire – until they are verified by their white counterparts. No conceptualism, surrealism, avant-gardism, post-modernism or post-postmodernism in black art. Keep it simple. Black stories must always be kept straightforward so as to not confuse the white reader.

It is only when the African story is told through the white lens that newspapers and the general public will pay attention. There are so many black artists in this country producing artworks that are screaming to be heard. Producing artworks about township life, poverty, inequality and how government has failed them. But I am afraid, until the overwhelmingly white curators, educators and narrators of art decide that such work is also art, we will only see the Mabulus when said white curator and white art educators are trying to defend their Brett Murrays. Suddenly we hear, “but Ayanda Mabulu did it too!” oh, so all along you knew about Mabulu’s work but failed to heap it with praise like you do to the Murrays? Okay.

So once again, I would like to thank Brett Murray for his artwork that has put art on the media map once again. The lack of media attention to Fine Art is a disgrace in this country. Considering we have a long history of resistance art that contributed to the liberation of this country too.

Today, more than ever, I feel that art can be flung out of those white cube spaces such as the Goodman Gallery and into public discourse, much like The Spear has been thrown around – so that it challenges the public and stimulates this kind of debate. Art must and can challenge service delivery in this country. It can challenge corruption, even. But the problem is that no one will pay attention to such art when it comes from black artists and if it comes from a white artist it will be dismissed as racism or black contempt easily.

I am hoping that all of this will cast light on the plight of black artists who are not allowed, by artistic norms and art education to express themselves beyond my-identity-this-my-identity-that.

Fine Art, like many other spears spheres of the Arts plays a fundamental role in the development of a society.

I trust that the media will keep its ear on the Fine Art ground from here onwards. There are stories there.

p.s: if you’re wondering how this ties up with Eastern Cape education and this site’s theme – think of the many young black children who will never realise their dreams as artists there, because of all the problems I’ve listed herein. Oh, and Ayanda Mabulu is from the Eastern Cape – King Williams Town to be exact.

Ubuhlanga beeDyunivesithi

Ndikhe ndathi tshe isibhalwana esimalunga neengxoxo ze –“Admissions Policy” yalapha kwiDyunivesithi yaseKapa. Umongo wesisibhalo ibikukumema abafundi, abaqeshwa kunye nabakwisidlangalala ukuba bathathe inxaxheba ekutshintsheni indlela le Dyunivesithi ingenisa ngayo abafundi abasuka kumasapho awawephantsi kwengcinezelo yocalu-calulo.

Sithetha nje umntwana omnyama uyakwazi ukungena eUCT ngamanqaku asezantsi kunawomntwana omhlophe, okanye owangaphesheya kolwandle. Lento ke ikwasiso nesilungiselelo sabo bathe bangcamla imfundo yezinga eliphantsi kwizikolo zaselokishini nasezilalini, kodwa benempawo zobukrelekrele. Kunjalo nje, mna andiboni ngxaki kolundlela-ngeniso.
Ngoba akukho bulingani-manani bobuhlanga kuleDyunivesithi. Uninzi labantwana abanyama, baseMzants’ Afrika, abakwazi ukungena ngenxa yokufumana imfundo engacacanga kwizikolo ezazidalelwe ukuba zenze njalo – zinike umntwana omnyama imfundo engacacanga. ‘de kulungiswe ezozikolo kwaye nemfundiso yazo ibekumgangatho olingana noweeModel C andiboni ukuba singazitshintsha njani iindlela zongeniso kuleDyunivesithi. Singxamele phi mhlawumbi? Ubulingani singekabufumani?

Bambi bathile bathi, “kodwa bakhona abantwana abamnyama abafunda kwezizikolo zamabhulu okanye izikolo zobuModel C. Bona bangabalingani nje!” Kulapho ke mna ndinokuthi endaweni yokujonga uhlanga lomfundi ofuna indawo kwiDyunivesithi, kunganjani ke ukuba singakhe sisebenzise iingingqi namahlelo ezizikolo abaphuma kuzo ababafundi? Endaweni yokuthi “umnyama, uzakungena lula!” kutheni singaqwalaseli mhlawumbi ukuba “usuka eTranskei okanye kwiilali zakwaZulu Natala okanye ebugxwayibeni baseLimpopo njalo-njalo – ngoko wena ungakwazi ukungena ngamanqaku asezantsi kunawabanye!”?

Ay’pheli apho ke – ngoba asakungena loomfundi umnyama, unamanqaku aphantsi, ingaba yona iDyunivesithi le imenzela malungiselelo mani ukuze akwazi ukufikelela kwizinga labo bebefunda kwizikolo eziphucukileyo? Yheke! Ayibenzeli nto! Tu! Suke kuthethwe ngeenqubo zeeExtended Degrees nton’ nton, apho umfundi ezibona ethatha iminyaka emibini ukwenza isifundo ekumel’ba sithatha unyaka omnye qha. Osogqiba kothukwe xa engaphumeleli. 

Ingaba iDyunivesithi ithatha manyathelo athini okuqinisekisa ukuba lomfundi, umnyama, uziva emnkelekile? Ngoba maxesha-maninzi ingxaki ayizozifundo ezohlula umfundi waselokishini okanye ezilalini xa eseDyunivesithi. Ixesha elininzi into eyohlula umfundi omnyama yingxaki yobuntu beeDyunivesithi – ubuntu beDyunivesithi bumhlophe kuqala, abukhathali, umntu uzimela ngenkqayana yakhe elangeni, njalo-njalo – andithi ke umntwana omyama ufuna ukukokoswa, abanjwe isandla kodwa ndizama ukuthi olutshintsho lwendlela yokuphila nokuthethathethisana nabantu abadala ngongathi ngabalingani nokunqaba kwezinto ezifana nembheko nezimilo zakha ekubeni umntwana omnyama azive elilolo okanye indwendwe elingamnkelekanga. Nditsho neelwimi zokufundisa – isiNgesi esi sikhe sithande ukuba yenye nje ingxaki kubo ngoba kaloku wofika iiDyunivesithi ziqesha abantu baphesheya kwamalwandle abakhumsha ngeendlela ezingaqhelekanga. Ufikise ukubana umfundi omnyama uyayazi lento kuthethwa ngayo kodwa akazithembanga ngokwaneleyo ukuba abuze imibuzo okanye asabelisise xa ebhidwa sesisiNgesi. Ingaba na iDyunivesithi le yenza malungiselelo mani ukuba ilungise ezizinto?

Phamb’ kokuba sithethe ngokutshintsha ii-“Admissions Policy” zeDyunivesithi yaseKapa, kunganjani ukuba siqale sithethe ngalemiba ndiyiphawule apha?

Kwaye kwalento yokugibisela ezingxoxo zimalunga nongeniso kwabafundi kwiDyunivesithi, esidlangalaleni ndiyibona iyingxaki.

Ngubani isidlangalala?

Kwaye ngoobani abazakukwazi ukuthatha inxaxheba kwezingxoxo, kwesisidlangalala? Ngababantu bafikelela kumacing’omoya (i-internet) nabantu abafunda amaphepha-ndaba – uninzi lawo lomaphepha abhalelwa abantu abamhlophe ngesiNgesi sabo. Lilonke ke xa sithetha ngesidlangalala kulomba wongeniso kwiDyunivesithi, sithetha ngesidlangalala esimhlophe. Uninzi lwezimvo kulomba wongeniso zizakusuka kubantu abamhlophe, kubantu abahleli bengayixhasi yonke lento yokulungisa izivubeko zamandulo. Abantu abakhala ngoo-“get over the past already!” qho xa kuthethwa ngemiba edibene nobuhlanga.

Ingaba ke iUCT iwusa esidlangalaleni lomba ngeenjongo zokuba esisidlangalala (ebesenditshilo ukuba luninzi lumhlophe) luzakuyiguqula yonke lento? Kubuyelwe kundlela-ndala olungiselela abo bafunde kwizikolo eziphucukileyo kuphela? Yingxaki leyo. Kwaye iyakhathaza into yokuba le-“Admissions Policy” ingasiwa nakwiilali, emaholweni asekuhlaleni nasezilokishini – izakuphelela kwii”Online submissions” nakwabo bathe bathenga lamaphepha-ndaba athetha nohlanga olunye kuphela.

Ingaba iUCT yenza ngabom’ xa isenza kanje? Ingaba mhlawumbi yona kuqala ifuna ukutshintsha ezindlela zongeniso? Zibuyele kundlela-ndala olungiselela abamhlophe kuqala?

Ndicinga njalo.