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New TV Channels Should Give Minority Languages Space

Manicaland Correspondent

64 years now, Zimbabwe has only one state-owned TV station, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation Television (ZBC-TV).

Fourteen companies have since applied for the TV licences and only six out of fourteen were granted permission to air are Zimpapers Television Network (ZTN) which is a subsidiary Zimbabwe Newspapers (1980) Ltd.

Jester Media trading as 3K TV which is a subsidiary of Daily News, Acacia Media Group trading as Kumba TV, Fairtalk Communications trading as Ke Yona TV and Channel Dzimbahwe trading as Channel D also got the licences.

According to BAZ chairperson, Charles Manzi Sibanda, the new licences holders are expected go on air within 18 months from the date of issue and failure to start production, licences will be revoked.

The coming of more players in the television broadcasting sector should be a blessing to the creative industry where artists and culturists belong.

Television stations consume stuff produced by the creative industry, be it cultural or arts.

There is need to protect our African culture, especially that of minority groups, even if we understand that we are living in a global village. Globalisation doesn’t mean that we have to shun our own identity in order to adopt other cultures.

Language, dressing, norms, food, music and dance are part of our identity. Productions in minority local languages should be given a priority and then be subtitled for international audience using English or other international languages like French and Spanish.

Zimbabwe has 16 official languages of which if the new television channels give a balance, Zimbabweans and the world shall enjoy variety.

How the Nambya people live in Dete might be different from that of the Ndau people in Chipinge. If a channel incorporates narratives from different communities, our TV channels shall be a grace.

The founder and director of Ndau Festival of the Arts (NDAFA), Phillip Kusasa, who is also a researcher and author of Ndau literature and was the producer of a Ndau two episode documentary called “Natural Disaster Awareness through the arts” feels that promoting minority languages is the best a TV channel can do.

“If you check well you will see that stories from minority groupings are usually fresh and interesting. Our own Ndau stories, for instance, bring fresh concepts which were never told before. Ndau culture was not exploited for long, so our narratives are still fresh,” said Kusasa.

Secretary for Pace Arts International Cultural Exhibitions (PAICE), Irene Mlambo, who is a scriptwriter in for a yet to be produced Ndau TV drama series called Idai, has faith in minority language productions.

“Being a minority language doesn’t translates to poor storylines. South Africa minority Venda soapie called Muvhango is a darling of many. So it will be good if a TV channel invests in minority language productions for variety,” said Mlambo.

A government program named ZimDigital Migration Project set the pace for minority language productions when it descended onto Chipinge in 2018 and funded two TV series in Ndau language. That saw the birth of Gaza soapie and Inside Ndau Culture documentary series.