Embracing his mother tongue set this writer free

 

If not for the inspired instruction of his high school Setswana teacher, Tiisetso Thiba might never have grasped the beauty of his mother tongue. Preoccupied with the urgency of equipping our youth with English, South Africa risks losing the cultural richness of its other official languages. Having grown into a published writer, Thiba is making sure that his heritage endures.

English has been valuable to him, a lifechanging tool. But just as a universal language has its advantages, so too the benefit of children learning in their mother tongues is beyond doubt. “I think, dream and see things in Setswana,” says Thiba, who is committed to developing the literary resources of the language for the next generation.

“When I write, I feel free,” he says. “There are no barriers or filters.” Thiba has written two books, one each in Setswana and English. As an artist of the written word, his goal is to wind engaging narratives around inspiring messages. Most of all, Thiba believes that it is crucial for children to be encouraged to not only respect, but adore their home languages. Within them lies the depth of their culture.