Malawi: First English-Ciyawo Dictionary Launched – ‘Jikajikape Jangauma Mbili’

The Global Interaction, through the Baptist Convention of Malawi, has unveiled the first ever English-Ciyawo Dictionary.

The English-Ciyawo dictionary launch follows a ten-year task of compiling 3 000 words with 10 Malawian men and women behind the job under the supervision of Australian Senior Editor, Dr. Ian Dicks, of the Baptist Convention of Malawi which is based at Namwera in Mangochi.

Launching the dictionary at Mangochi Town Council Multipurpose Hall on Thursday, Minister of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST), Bright Msaka, described the day as momentous to the Yawo and Malawians in general.

“Today, we have reached a great milestone for education amongst the Yawo, as well as a milestone for education in Malawi.

“English is core subject for other subjects in primary and secondary education and this dictionary will enhance Yawo students’ understanding of the English language,” Msaka said.

The minister further said Global Interaction through the Ciyawo-English Dictionary Project (CEDP) team had proved the Yawo proverb: jikajikape jangauma mbili (Nobody can make history working alone).

He encouraged school-going Yawo learners to purchase the dictionary for them to understand the most important and frequently used words in the English language.

Msaka directed the MoEST to support the initiative and encouraged all bookshops in the country to stock the dictionary and make it accessible to Yawo students and other Yawo people who want to learn English for business and travel.

“Ciyawo is a very beautiful language which the Yawo are rightly proud of; it is also an important aspect of their culture and should be preserved. The Ministry of Education applauds these initiatives,” said the minister.

The dictionary’s senior editor, Dr. Ian Dicks, said it gave him great satisfaction to announce and unveil the English-Ciyawo dictionary after a decade of compiling the words.

He said out of the 23 years he had been at Namwera in Mangochi working with the Baptist Convention of Malawi, he dedicated 10 years to the compilation of the dictionary he was proud to see being unveiled.

“Ciyawo is a very beautiful language which I have come to appreciate very much,” said Dicks, adding: “It is also important as it is the first language of more than 2.5 million people in Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania.

“In Malawi, there are more than 1.7 million people who speak Ciyawo as their first language.”

According to the senior editor, during the process of constructing the English-Ciyawo dictionary, the team kept stakeholders such as Yawo Traditional Authorities, education managers, school principals, ward councilors, Members of Parliament, and linguists from the Centre for Language Studies at the University of Malawi.

The Malawi Baptist Convention partnered with Oxford University Press of the United Kingdom and Mzuzu University in the project and funding was from men and women in Australia through the Global Interaction, according to Dicks.

One member of the team behind the compilation of the dictionary, Lloyd Mdala, said the 3,000 words used in the dictionary were identified by the Oxford University Press as the most important and frequently used in English language.

The dictionary was sold at a special price of K6, 000 at the launch but its actual price is K7,250, according to Mdala.

Five hundred dictionaries have since been donated to government through the MoEST while the Australian High Commissioner to Zimbabwe has also donated 50 more dictionaries to Malawi Government.

Yawo chiefs from Mangochi, Machinga, Balaka, Dedza, Zomba, and others from Chiradzulu, Mulanje and Phalombe graced the function alongside learners and teachers from selected schools in Mangochi.

All activities including the speeches from the minister and the senior editor of the dictionary were done in Yawo language.

Source: All Africa