Local poet puts Ikalanga on the map

Never one to put down the pen for long, renowned local poet Monty Fanikiso Moswela has released his latest work, a diverse, multi-layered offering entitled, ‘Milidzo Ye Ikalanga’ (Melodies of Ikalanga).

The book sees the 62-year-old award-winning author delve into the very ethos of the Kalanga people – his people!

“The idea is to showcase the richness of the language, as well as Ikalanga culture and traditions,” explained the Mapoka-born Moswela, who adds passionately, “The beauty of the language is in the melodies!”

‘Milidzo Ye Ikalanga’ begins with a rich selection of poems, penned in the deepest, purest Kalanga.

“Many are traditional poems, written in praise of Chiefs,” revealed Moswela, who, through his iconic poem ‘Meeting in Francistown’ was the first-ever recipient of the Bessie Head Literature Award when the initiative was launched in 2007.

The next section focuses on the Hakata, in which Moswela, who currently serves as a Director at the Botswana Open University’s Francistown campus, provides an in-depth background on the mythical practice.

“This part of the book looks at traditional doctors and the bones they throw. Although there are only four (bones), there are 16 possible permutations. This is traditional knowledge and is something anyone can learn.”

The book also contains traditional Ikalanga lullabies, proverbs, idioms and riddles. There is also a section dedicated to Totems and related clan titles for men and women among Bakalanga.

“It explains the history of the Kalanga-speaking people and how the various Totems relate to each other,” continued the 2005 Arts and Culture Author of the Year, who was part of the team contracted by the Botswana Bible Society to translate the bible into Kalanga.

“This book is a new beginning. I believe that I can contribute to society by writing and researching in Kalanaga. I want to encourage the culture and put Kalanga in the public domain; without these things being recorded, they will disappear!” he warned, a mixture of concern and optimism evident in his dark, bespectacled features.

Moswela’s dream is to see Kalanga ‘go back to school’ – a wish he believes could become a reality in the not too distant feature.

“If you look at the BDP’s recently released Manifesto, Point ‘O’ under Education states that they intend to introduce the teaching of various indigenous languages at both school and university,” notes the veteran educator, smiling happily as he talks to Voice Entertainment at his flowery garden in his Monarch home.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Moswela is already planning his next literary release, ‘Domboshaba and other Poems’.

‘Milidzo Ye Ikalanga’ is currently on sale for P150. Only a limited number of copies were published and are available on a first come, first serve basis. For more information, the author can be contacted on 71786515.

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