Alumnus Kaka Mokakale says language enable him to tell people about his culture and beliefs. “My culture is all enshrined in my language. In Setswana we say, ‘molomo o goga leoto’, meaning your walk is directed by what you are saying."
For the love of words
Having received training in lexicography from the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) and TshwaneLexDje, Kaka wrote a novel, Matlhotlhapelo.
“I am currently busy with my first Setswana book of poems titled Ga le boe and I am also writing a collection of short stories,” says Kaka. “As a student my novel, Matlhotlhapelo, was awarded first place during a final-year project in 1998,” he says.
Kaka co-authored Ntime O mphele Ngwana (Setswana: Puo Ya Gae), a book used by Grade 12s. He also compiled a Setswana dictionary published by Nutrend Publishers in 2008 and a Setswana-English-Setswana dictionary for MacMillan, BoSetswana.
Alumnus wants to preserve and promote Setswana
The Setswana language is one of the 11 official languages spoken in South Africa, with Setswana speakers forming the fifth-largest language group.
NWU alumnus and lecturer Kaka Mokakale is on a mission to preserve and promote Setswana, which is one of the languages perceived to be under threat due to the increased use of English as the language of business, government and education.
“To me language is not only a system of communication based upon words and the combination of words into sentences; it is a way of life, it is who I am,” he says.
Kaka does production and presentation for SABC, Motsweding FM, Radio 2000 and National Radio of Namibia programmes.
“As a radio personality I intend to use this medium to promote the language. Radio allows me to speak about the importance of languages and encourage the youth of our country to love language.
“As a member of the Setswana National Language Body (SetNLB), my intention is to spread the word and popularise our language so that it becomes part of our youth’s lives.”
Where it all started
Born and bred in Pudumong village in Taung in the North West Province, Mokakale studied at the then University of North West, which is now the NWU.
He completed a BA in education in 1999, after which he did his BAHons in Setswana and obtained a Master of Arts in indigenous knowledge systems in 2002.
In addition to lecturing Setswana in the subject group Setswana and African Languages for Education in the NWU’s Faculty of Education, he is currently a PhD candidate in literature on the campus in Mahikeng.
Working with words
As a founder and member of Kaka M Trading, which specialises in translation and interpretation, proofreading and editing services, he does a lot of freelancing for Oxford University Press.
Kaka, who has edited, proofread and assessed numerous Setswana books before publication, has also written a series of books called Lesedi.
In addition, he is involved in the Setswana Language Grammar Portal for learners and students from Grade 10 to university level.
In line with the NWU’s adoption of a multilingual policy, alumni like Kaka play an important role in preserving this important South African language and heritage.
A Chinese proverb says, “To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world.”
This is exactly what Kaka is doing: he is opening windows for us all to appreciate the colourful language diversity of our country.
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Kaka is a member of PanSALB’s Setswana National Language Body (SetNLB) and the Setswana Language Grammar Portal.