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Matjila adapts Mbeki’s ‘I am an African’ into Setswana

He’s a lover of Africa and African languages and this is one of the many reasons why Prof Daniel Sekepe Matjila (Professor in Unisa’s Department of African Languages) adapted former President Thabo Mbeki’s ‘I am an African’ speech into Setswana. In doing so, he has made it more accessible to South Africans, especially those who appreciate their language. Matjila is pictured here proudly wearing colours of the rich African soil as he celebrates Africa Day.

Prof Daniel Sekepe Matjila, Professor in Unisa’s Department of African Languages has adapted former President Thabo Mbeki’s ‘I am an African’ speech into Setswana to make it more accessible to South Africans, especially those who appreciate their language. With today being Africa Day, Matjila shares this beautiful rendition with the Unisa community after it’s immense success on radio stations including Motsweding FM.

According to Matjila, Mbeki’s speech is idiomatic, proverbial and musical. “The music of the speech conveys the feeling of grandeur, inspiration, greatness, achievement.  It emphasises the love for and belief in the innate greatness and potential of his beloved Africa,” he said.

Africans need to embrace this spirit and be patriotic

Matjila explained that pride in being African can be expressed in many ways, such as lyricism, which evokes a mood and an atmosphere. “Mbeki’s speech emphasises the natural beauty and wealth of the continent, exemplified by mountains, rivers, hills, trees, sunshine, rainfalls; domestic and wild animals; minerals and general possessions of Africa. Africans need to embrace this spirit and be patriotic,” urged Matjila.

Click for Mbeki’s ‘I am African’ speech in text and in video and see Matjila’s adaptation below:

Nnake Moaferika. Pelo ya me e mo lefatsheng la dithota, lefatshe la madiba, lefatshe la dithaba, lefatshe la dibaka, la dinoka di emang sesiti, lefatshe la dikaka, lefatshe la ditlhare tse ditala ngwaga otlhe, lefatshe la ditšhese, lefatshe la mawatle a magolo. Lefatshe la ditlha di fetogang jaaka leobu, ditlha tse di tlhalosang lefatshe la borraetsho mogolo.

Mmele wa me o sule dikgapetla ka ntata ya mariga matala, o bolailwe ke semathana se se wang leratharatha, se tswang godimo legodimong. Semathana se simolotse go gakologa, se gakolosa ke bothito jwa letsatsi la Aferika, Aferika lefatshe la letsatsi. Dikgadima di simolotse go duma; di lela go laletsa medupe pula e namagadi. Matlakadibe a tla a sa lalediwa, ga benya ga thunya, ga ba ga utlwala mogosi, mogosi wa letshogo le tsholofelo.

Go utlwala monko o o monate wa tlhago, ke monko wa ditšhese le dithunya, baagi ba naga ya Afrika.. Dithaba tse di goletseng godimo tsa Maluti, di itogile semelemethe, metsi a mmala wa sebilo a Lekoa, Igqili gammogo le Thugela,  metlhaba ya sekaka sa Kgalagadi, tsotlhe di tshwana le boidididi jwa batho mo seraleng sa tlhago; serala se mo go sona re diragatsang tiro tsa bosilo, tiro tsa metshameko ya letsatsi .

Ka nako dingwe,  fa ke tsenwe ke letshogo,  ke utlwa ke akabala, gore ke ipitse Moaferika; go itekanya le tilodi digaga kgotsa  tshetla ya dipoa, tlou ya mmadisanyane kgotsa tshepe ya naga,  rintlha wa phiri kgotsa mokwepa o montsho le fa e le monang o o hupileng botlhoko. Fela botho bo teng gotlhe, selebego sa naga ya borraetshomogolo, ga go ope yo o ka nkganetsang fa ke re – Nna ke Moaferika!

History goes deeper than this

About hundred and one years ago in 1906,  Pixley ka Isaka Seme, the first black lawyer in South Africa, and one of the founders of the African National Congress, presented a speech titled the ‘Regeneration of Africa’ at Colombia University in New York, where he argued that ‘a new and unique civilization is soon to be added to the world’ – a civilization he professed would be spiritual and humanistic. An excerpt from his speech:

Like some great century-plant, that shall but bloom
In ages hence, we watch thee; in our dream
See in thy swamps the Prospero of our stream;
Thy doors unlocked, where knowledge in her tomb
Hath lain innumerable years in gloom.
Then shalt thou, waking with that morning gleam,
Shine as thy sister lands with equal beam.

Seme was looking forward to Africa’s blossoming into a flower. As time passed by, he envisioned Africa’s real potential, Africa’s riches and prosperity well renowned. Ninety years later, Mbeki, delivered his ‘I am an African’ speech on the occasion of the passing of the new Constitution of South Africa.

Africa Day presents an opportunity for South Africans to reconnect and recommit themselves in support of all government interventions to develop a better Africa and a better world. The theme for Africa Month 2017 is “The Year of OR Tambo: Building a Better Africa and a Better World”. South Africa will use the day to reaffirm support for the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and commit the country to playing its role within the AU to ensure the successful implementation of the vision and plan to build a better Africa. Image source: www.capetownmagazine.com

*By Kirosha Naicker

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