The Bible Society of South Africa and the custodians of the Balobedu culture have elected a team of language experts to translate the Bible into Khelobedu. The organisations announced this historic step at Kgapane outside Tzaneen in Limpopo.
The team is expected to conclude its work in the next few months. The Balobedu nation has long been calling on the government to recognise Khelobedu as one of South Africa’s official languages.
The team to translate the Bible into Khelobedu will work closely with the Bible Society of South Africa and the Pan South African Language Board. Currently, the language falls under the Sepedi dialects.
It is said to be spoken by thousands of people in parts of Limpopo.
The head of translation at the Bible Society of South Africa, Dr. Masenyane Baloyi, says is a proud moment for Balobedu.
“We had challenges with the time to start because there were some people who were taking long to start the project.”
African National Congress Member of Parliament and a custodian of Balobedu culture, Dr. Mathole Motshekga, says this will lead the government towards recognising their language.
“It was president Nelson Mandela who promised Queen Mokope Modjadji the fifth that this government will recognise the Queenship of Balobedu and Khelobedu as the national language and President Zuma and President Ramaphosa came and they have delivered, and this means Balebedu have something that they can take with.”
The government has recognised the Balobedu Queenship, Queen Modjadji, or the Rain Queen as the hereditary queen of Balobed, but the nation says this is not enough for as long as their language is not recognised.
Modjadji Queenship recognition welcomed:
They say the Queenship recognition was supposed to have happened simultaneously with the recognition of Khelobedu as an official language in the country.
“We are so delighted today seeing that the Bible Society of South Africa has come together to translate the Bible from Khelobedu. As Balobedu we are so proud and happy. We feel so fortunate to see this. We are happy for our children because this will help preserve our language,” says one of the people.
The Balobedu also want their language to be taught at schools and not be reduced to a Sepedi dialect.