UNIC commemorates International Mother Language Day 2012

Harare – Over 500 schoolchildren from the Children’s Performing Arts Workshop (CHIPAWO) thronged the Zimbabwe College of Music in central Harare on 25 February, to celebrate the International Mother Language Day 2012 under the global theme Mother Tongue instruction and inclusive education.

The children came from 30 CHIPAWO school-based centres in Bindura, Chitungwiza, Harare and Domboshava and performed various activities aimed at highlighting the importance of the Day. Some recited poems in their mother language whilst others sang songs, danced or performed mini dramas.

Of note this year was the participation of the embassies of Cuba, Nigeria, Russia and Czech Republic. Cubans living in Zimbabwe performed a short play in Spanish entitled The Rose-coloured Slippers poem. This was done with English translations.

UNIC mounted an exhibition of global UN publications and posters that have been translated into the main local languages – Chishona and Ndebele. UNIC Harare Officer in Charge Tafadzwa Mwale who was the Guest of Honour officiated at the event and read the statement of the UNESCO Director General, Irina Bokova to mark this day. In her speech, Ms Bokova said that nearly half of the more than 6,000 languages spoken in the world could die out by the end of the century.

“Language loss impoverishes humanity. It is a retreat in the defence of everyone’s rights to be heard, to learn and to communicate. Moreover, each language also conveys cultural heritage that increases our creative diversity. Cultural diversity is as important as biological diversity in nature. They are closely linked. Some indigenous people’s languages carry knowledge on the biodiversity and management of ecosystems. This linguistic potential is an asset for sustainable development and deserves to be shared,” she said.

International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by UNESCO’s General Conference in November 1999. The International Day has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

On 16 May 2007, by resolution 61/266, the General Assembly proclaimed 2008 as the International Year of Languages, to promote unity in diversity and international understanding, through multilingualism and multiculturalism.

Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.

Also present at this event were members of the diplomatic corps, schoolchildren, the media and representatives of various organizations