Grace “Obama” Chiumia made the call in Mzimba district during the Umtheto Cultural Festival, a cultural celebration of the ngonis.
“It is disappointing that despite a number of tribal groups in the country doing their best in preserving their cultural values, they are doing little in promoting their languages which is also part of their cultural values.”
“For example when I came at this cultural festival I expected the ngoni language to be widely used but that has not been the case as the Tumbuka language was the one which has been used, this is a danger to the ngoni language,” Chiumia said.
She said the government of Malawi is concerned that the current trend has a possibility of having languages that are not promoted completely forgotten in the near future if nothing is done.
“I appeal to tribal groups in the country to take deliberate efforts in promoting their languages by teaching the youths for these languages to continue being used among different tribal groups forever.”
Speaking to Capital FM, the Chairperson of the Mzimba Heritage Association (MHA) said the tribal group is aware of the current state at which the ngoni language is used in the district as only one in ten T/As which is the area of T/A Mpherembe is where the language is widely spoken.
Boston Soko said, “In order to preserve the ngoni language, MHA will soon introduce ngoni language classes in chief’s headquarters across the district and we will also engage government to allow us introduce the ngoni curriculum in schools in the district.”
Soko said MHA is currently mobilizing resources and some well-wishers like Inkosi Buthelezi from South Africa have already made the contribution in terms of resources by donating to the association dictionaries.
“With resources available, we expect to soon recruit people who will be teaching the ngoni language, our target is for many people in the district have basic knowledge of the language and be able to communicate.”
Despite Mzimba being a ngoni territory, the ngoni language is rarely as the Tumbuka language is predominantly spoken.
The Ngoni people are an ethnic group living in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, in southeast-central Africa.
The Ngoni trace their origins to the Nguni and Zulu people of kwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.
The displacement of the Ngoni people in the great scattering following the Zulu wars had repercussions in social reorganization as far north as Malawi and Zambia.