South Africa is very known for its ability to advance its indigenous languages, thus ensuring that no ethnic group is isolated. In this world where a silence in the midst of injustice is self-betrayal, I would like to voice out my disappointment about my radio station, Munghana Lonene FM.
The station has a mandate of popularising the Xitsonga language through educating, entertaining and informing the public. Lately, most presenters have resorted to incorporating English in every sentence they utter on air, thus defeating the purpose of having a Xitsonga radio. The presenters freely say "Traffic lights" when they should be saying "Timboni ta le magondzweni" without even feeling guilty about it.
How is the language going to grow by leaps and bounds if the people who are charged with the responsibility of spearheading that campaign do the opposite? How will those who never had an opportunity to receive formal education interpret most of the sentences that have English words and quotes in them?
Radio is well-known for its ability to communicate beyond the literacy boundary, but what the station is currently doing is not helping at all. The station also does not support Xitsonga artists, more especially those from Bushbuckridge, thus unconsciously denying them exposure and royalties that are generated through airplay. Of all the artists in Bushbuckridge, only General Muzka, Skhathele Khosa and Colonel Mhlongo receive a bit of airplay. The likes of Themba Nyathi, Commandant, Pensele and Raymond Nyathi are constantly overlooked.
What Munghana Lonene FM needs to know is that Xitsonga artists depend on them to advance their careers and popularise their music. How on earth can we be proud of the fact that Rihanna and Sam Smith get better airplay than Joe Shirimani, Sunglen Chavalala, Majaha Ya Xinto and Benny Mayengani in a Xitsonga radio?
What makes it worse is that even during the station's events, they invite artists who sing in other languages. While I acknowledge the incredible power of music diversity and the great talent possessed by those artists, I maintain that they cannot be invited at the expense of Xitsonga artists who look up to the station for a platform to showcase and advance their talents, and also generate income, thus pushing back the frontiers of poverty.
During the station's recent Xitsonga Music Awards in Giyani, Ringo was invited to perform at the event but you will never hear Umhlobo Wenene FM inviting Dr Thomas Chauke to its events, because the station considers its audience and aims to popularise its language.
If this is the "Makomba-ndlela" that the station claims to be, then nhlalala yeleyo a hi yona yo landzeleriwa hikuva yi nga hi komba nyoka. Munghana Lonene FM must go back to the drawing board and revisit its mandate of catering for the Xitsonga-speaking people with pride and excellence. The station must remember that it was established to be a public radio platform and not a commercial one.