Vernacular weeklies merging today
The Herald, November 8, 1985
THE two local language weekly newspapers, Kwayedza and Umthunywa, published by Zimbabwe Newspapers are being amalgamated from today into one paper called Kwayedza-Umthunywa, a company spokesman has announced.
The step is being taken because of lack of advertising support in Bulawayo. The Shona and the Sindebele sections of the paper will continue to carry advertisements in the two languages.
The Umthunywa section will occupy the centre spread to allow people who cannot read Shona to simply pull out the Sindebele section.
“We hope that as trading improves, we shall be able to reinstate Kwayedza and Umthunywa as separate newspapers,” the spokesman said.
LESSONS FOR TODAY
Vernacular newspapers are publications that are written in the mother language of a country or particular province, district or area.
Vernacular newspapers are common in most countries over the world because they play a major role in disseminating critical information in a language that the majority of people will understand.
The power of the vernacular press can be traced to India, where the British enacted the Vernacular Press Act, in the then British India in 1878 to curtail the freedom of the Indian language.
The legislation was proposed by the then viceroy of India Lord Lytton. The act was prevented vernacular press from criticising British policies – notably, the opposition that had grown with the outset of the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-1880). The act excluded English-language publications. It elicited strong and sustained protests from a wide spectrum of the Indian populace. Although it was repealed by Lord Lytton’s successor, the resentment it produced among Indians became one of the catalysts that gave rise to India’s growing independence movement.
Kwayedza and Umthunywa were eventually published separately and the publications are playing a pivotal role in the country. They are preferred by school children who use them to edify their knowledge of Shona and SiNdebele.