Zambia Overseas Christian Fellowship (ZOCF) based in the United Kingdom has come up with an initiative of teaching Zambian languages online to help Zambian families that have moved to the UK stay connected to their culture.
And Zambia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Lieutenant General Paul Mihova (Rtd) has said it is important for Zambian Youths based in the Diaspora to learn their mother tongue, as it plays a key role in preserving their culture and tradition and cultivating their national identity.
Meanwhile, ZOCF Chairman Dr. Maybin Muyeba hopes that by giving youths the connection to Zambian culture, they will feel more comfortable with their dual nationality and ultimately become more happier confident adults.
“In the diaspora today, we have quite a large and growing population of young people whose parents/grandparents left Zambia many years ago. Often, the youths find it challenging to identify themselves as Zambians because they cannot speak any Zambian language. This initiative by ZOCF will help restore the lost identity and pride to these youths. I encourage you all Zambians in the UK to support this initiative,” said the High Commissioner.
I lived in Zambia as a child and when I lived there speaking a local language wasn’t encouraged, especially at school. This was the same sentiment shared by many of my Zambian friends living in the UK, we cannot speak our languages, or can only speak the very basics. In all honesty, it was only when I visited Zambia in 2019 that I realized how important speaking a local language is in the day-to-day life of Zambians
– Luwi Luwaya
The importance of learning Zambian languages
The High Commissioner said learning Zambian Languages, alongside the language of the host country, is not only a basic right of Zambian youths but also enriches their lives and develops their character.
“I appeal to all parents in the Zambian community in the United Kingdom and Ireland to keep alive the Zambian language in your homes. Parents, do all you can to ensure that your children learn Zambian Languages at an early stage, he said.
And Dr Muyeba said that youth knowing their mother tongue helps them access their Zambia identity gives them confidence, and help them communicate more effectively.
“We had noticed a gap in our youths as far as tradition, language and some Zambian cultural values. The ZOCF Youth department came up with the idea of wanting to teach local languages and Zambian cultural values through those languages. One other reason raised by the youth was that when they travelled to Zambia, they would feel at home being able to speak a local language apart from English,” he said.
Dr. Muyeba further said ZOCF is working with qualified UK Secondary School teachers to help them with lesson plans, timetabling and the syllabus. He explained that the lessons would be held on online platforms such as zoom and Teams and were open to other nationals who wanted to learn Zambian languages.
Dr. Muyeba furthermore said that lessons were £1 but parents were free to pay more if they wanted.
“Our aim is to deliver at least 3 or more languages to our Youth so that they can write, understand and speak a few words confidently here in the UK and be able to find friends back in Zambia who are local and speak vernacular languages for them to practice.”
Meanwhile ZOCF Youth coordinator Luwi Luwaya said speaking a Zambian language will help many young people in the diaspora forge their own identities in Zambia and as Zambians.
“I lived in Zambia as a child and when I lived there speaking a local language wasn’t encouraged, especially at school. This was the same sentiment shared by many of my Zambian friends living in the UK, we cannot speak our languages, or can only speak the very basics. In all honesty, it was only when I visited Zambia in 2019 that I realized how important speaking a local language is in the day-to-day life of Zambians,” she said.
Ms. Luwaya sadly said “I remember getting into a minibus and the bus conductor speaking to me in about 3 different local languages before he realized myself and my sister could not understand him. It was quite embarrassing and a big reminder about the separation that happens when you cannot speak a language from your own country and how vital it is when trying to navigate the country independently as a young adult. Many other youths and I want to stay connected to Zambia, whether it is through business, through family ties, through travel and exploration, we have a need to learn enough to be able to communicate well,” said Ms. Luwaya.
She said to know more about why young Zambians in the UK want to learn Zambian languages, please view ZOCF YOUTHs Instagram live videos: