Sign language now used for storytelling in media Deputy Minister of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture Emily Jesaya (centre) poses with some delegates and Emerald Hill School for the Deaf and Children’s Home pupils during the launch of Translated Folklores into Sign Language in Harare yesterday — Picture: Charles Muchakagara.

Mutsawashe Mashandure-Arts Correspondent 

THE Government is committed to ensuring that no deaf person, no artiste with disability, and no place is left behind towards the sustainable goal Vision 2030,  Sports, Arts and Culture, Deputy Minister Emily Jesaya has said 

Speaking during the sign language stories launch held at a local hotel in Harare on Monday, the Deputy Minister said they want to bridge the gap between deaf children and deaf people who are left behind.

“We are proudly launching stories that are designed and meant to bridge the gap between deaf children and deaf people in general who have for a long time been left behind in terms of Zimbabwean cultural life; most of them had no ways or means of benefiting from “ngano” or folktales due to communication barriers,” she said.

“I stand today proud of our deaf artists’ achievements and the achievements of those artists with disabilities who have worked relentlessly to make this ngano into beautiful artistic work that we are all in awe of.” Deputy Minister Jesaya said being disabled does not mean inability. 

“We are therefore here today to witness the discovery of amazing talents from our deaf communities and those with disabilities at large.” 

“Today, these young men and women creatives with disabilities are amply demonstrating and fulfilling what most of us have always known: “disability is not inability,” she said. 

“Our deaf creatives have just brought this to the limelight. ‘Ngano dzedu’, or the folk tales that we have known since childhood, are coming to life through sign language for us all to enjoy and learn from,” she said. 

The Deputy Minister called upon members of the society to support and recognise artists with disabilities, as they are usually left behind. 

“We call upon all members of our society to recognise and support artists with disabilities, particularly deaf artists.” 

“They are usually left behind, as most established artistes and media tend not to involve them.” 

She said the Government will continue to support the use of sign language from all cultural perspectives. 

“As Government, we wish to continually promote the use of Zimbabwe sign language in all its cultural perspectives to uphold and continually drive the rights of deaf people so that, like everyone else, they fully enjoy their cultural and artistic life. 

“We seek to promote the arts and culture of all our people in fulfilment of His Excellency President Dr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa’s mantra and principle of leaving no one and no place behind, Zimbabwe has a long tradition and mastery of storytelling through rich folk tales.”

The Deputy Minister applauded the Zimbabwe Deaf Media Trust for the initiatives to translate the ngano into sign language. 

“I wish to commend the Zimbabwe Deaf Media Trust for taking the initiative to translate the ngano into sign language. This puts you as Deaf Trust in the vanguard of support, “ she said. 

Speaking at the same event, Zimbabwe Deaf Media director, Lovemore Chidemo, said they have decided to work with the Government to support the deaf and to have an inclusive community whereby the deaf is not being left behind. 

“We decided to engage with the government to support the deaf community because if we just leave all the burden to the Government, it means we will leave the deaf behind,” he said. 

Chidemo said they want to recognise the use of Article 30(5), which recognises the disabled. 

“We want to use Article 30(5) of the Convention explicitly to recognise the right of persons with disabilities to participate in physical activity and sports on an equal basis with others.” 

He said sign language storytelling is a unique and important art form that can help bridge the gap between hearing and deaf cultures. 

“We want to have many stories and translate them into sign language. I believe that by using hand gestures, facial expressions, and body language, sign language storytellers can create a rich and immersive experience for their audiences,” he said.

“I hope this will allow people who are deaf or hard of hearing to enjoy stories in a way that is accessible and engaging. It also provides an opportunity for people to learn about sign language and the deaf,” he added.

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