Xamobile: Reviving the Khoisan language through Innovation

Xam_700For a language that is considered an essential part of South Africa’s rich history, it seems that the Khoisan language has been slightly losing its relevance over the years. The reason for that can be linked to the tragic past of South Africa where the San people were forced to become extinct. Noteworthy progress have been made in the post-apartheid South Africa with regards to reviving the Khoisan identity and of course, the language. In an attempt to contribute to that and to preserve the language more effectively using technology, a student from the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa has created a mobile text app entry service called “Xamobile”.

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Sunkanmi Olaleye

Originally from Nigeria, Sunkanmi Olaleye, used digital archives from as far as the 19th century for this particular project focusing specifically on one Khoisan language known as “lXam”. Olaleye is currently doing his Masters degree in Computer Science and has always been intrigued by the Khoisan language and its people. According to Olaleye, African people have shifted from embracing their own home languages to having the need to only excel in English.

According to UCT news, Xamobile will allow users to text in the extinct language using their cellphones. The project aims not only to pay tribute to the history of the Khoisan people but it is also to provide a platform for the remaining descendants of the San to learn their language, especially the youth. Olaleye is also working on a mobile game involving the IXam language which will can be downloaded from an App store.

Language is a significant part of one’s identity hence it is absolutely crucial to preserve each and every language.   It’s who we are, it’s how we express ourselves, it’s how we tell our story- there is no language that is superior to another.  The beautiful thing about Africa is that we have all these diverse languages, we have the platform to step in to the minds of people from different cultures through language.  This UCT student behind Xamobile, who is Nigerian, proved that you don’t have to be part of a certain culture to respect and show appreciation for another language.

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