After years of dismal performances in matric examinations, the Balobedu clan, under the tutelage of the Rain Queen, wants Khelobedu to be made the 12th official language in South Africa.
The Balobedu, with a population of more than 1 million people along the Great Letaba River between Giyani and the Makgobaskloof escarpment, claim their children are failing matric because they are forced to translate their mother tongue, Khelobedu, into Sepedi during exams.
Chairperson for the Modjadji royal council John Malatji said children comprehend better in class when they learn in their mother tongue.
“We pleaded with Nelson Mandela for Khelobedu to be recognised as the official language for the sake of the future of our children,” Malatji told The Citizen yesterday. “We also asked him for a health centre, a tar road, an agricultural college, a hotel, vehicles for the queen, a maths and science school and our status to News be changed from chieftaincy to that of queenship.
“Mandela granted all of these, except for Khelobedu, to be recognised as an official language. “Mandela promised that the government of the day would make it possible for us to realise our dreams. But he is gone and we are still pleading.”
The Modjadji royal family’s plea was supported by the chairperson of Kara Heritage Institute, Mathole Motshekga, who said most children in the Balobedu kingdom failed matric because of language issues.
“We have taken the plea by the Modjadji royals to parliament to jolt the matter and believe it is just a matter of time for Balobedu children to start using their mother tongue in their classrooms,” added Motshekga.
Motshekga said the royal family was working hand-in-glove with intellectuals from around the world to develop literature and novel books written in Khelobedu.
The department of education said yesterday some schools in the area underachieved in matric every year. The department said Mopani district, which covers a vast area in the province, had a 69.2% matric pass rate in 2013, 73.3% in 2014 and 68.9% in 2015.