I am Katlego. Born from a Zulu mother and a Pedi father. Out of 11 South African official languages, I fluently speak 10 languages. Except Afrikaans which i’m still learning being aided by the 23 year- long running soapie 7de Laan. On a daily basis I speak English with my friends,colleagues and professors on campus. I speak S’pitori with my other friends whom I accomodate because they cannot hear nor speak IsiZulu.

I had IsiZulu (ulwimi lwebele)as my home language throughout my schooling years and English as a first additional. I have been so intentional with learning other languages so much that I listened to various radio stations to ensure that I speak fluently and eloquently. The first language I learnt outside Isizulu,Sotho(Pedi and SeTswana) and English was TshiVenda. My Venda speaking high school teachers thought I was actually Venda after hearing me conversing excellently in their language, translating and understanding it. The fact that my maiden surname is unheard of made them think i might be Venda. How did I come to know the language you may ask. I watched Muvhango from the age of 7 and listened to Phalaphala FM when i was 13. (Ndo livhuwa kha Phalaphala FM)All the while speaking Isizulu,English and Sotho. It is possible to learn various languages at a young age.

When I was 18 years old,in my matric year, my friend invited me to a Ndebele-themed wedding. I ensured that I had their attire to show cultural-appreciation and also speak in their language. It is true that people understand you better when you speak in their language. After standing in a long queue while plates of food were being passed above our heads,I eventually gathered the courage to walk up to the dishing stations and said” lothjani bomma, ngibawa ama-plate amabili womratha ne nkukhu” ( Hello,ma’am. Can I please have two plates of pap and chicken) You can imagine what the conclusion was,lol. I was quite seasoned in the language,Ngiyathokoza Kwekwezi FM.

The million dollar question started when I got to Pretoria studying at Tuks. “Pila pila wena omotlhobo mang,kaore odi bolela tse tsotlhe di language tse” (What tribe do you classify as,because you seem to speak all these languages?). At first i would laugh it off by simply saying i’m a jane of all trades. But i pondered over it and came to a conclusion that a person can speak different languages while they have no association or prior knolwedge and familiarity with it,they can converse and interact in it simply because they want to accomodate other people to avoid language barriers. In my case,Pretoria is a place that predominantly has Tswana,Pedi and Ndebele speaking people. However these people no longer converss in their native languages but rather in S’pitori, wa ntlhaloganya? So it came as a shock to them to hear me converse not only in Spitori but in their native languages as well.

What tribe do you classify as and how languages do you speak and are fluent in?