Leonard Ncube Bulawayo Bureau
VICE President Kembo Mohadi yesterday charmed health ministers and experts from Central, East and Southern Africa with some jokes while speaking in various indigenous languages spoken in the region. VP Mohadi, who was the guest of honour at the 67th East Central and Southern Africa (ECSA) Health Ministers’ conference, spoke fluently in Sesotho, Setswana and Lozi as he interacted with delegates while delivering his official speech.
He was inviting the delegates to sample the country’s tourism when he switched to indigenous languages.
The VP said Basotho, Batswana and Lozi should claim ownership of the Mosi-oa-Tunya name, indigenous to Victoria Falls meaning the “smoke that thunders”, saying it was named by the Lozi people when they migrated from Lesotho.
The VP told delegates that Mosi-oa-Tunya, which is said to be in the local Nambya and Tonga languages, should actually be credited to Basotho as the name originated from King Lewanika of the Lozi Kingdom.
King Lewanika and the Lozi people’s origins are traced back to Lesotho. “We welcome you to Victoria Falls and as you deliberate, take time to enjoy Mosi-oa-Tunya which is Tonga or Nambya for the smoke that thunders,” he said.
“Actually, this should be either Sesotho, Lozi or SeTswana. Mosi-oa-Tunya was colloquially discovered by David Livingstone, but we don’t know how he discovered something that was already there and named it after his Queen Victoria.”
VP Mohadi said Victoria Falls could have been named after King Lewanika because he and the Lozi came up with the name Mosi-oa-Tunya.
In another jest, VP Mohadi drew laughter when he said South Africa and Zambia advertise Victoria Falls as if it’s theirs.
“The Falls belong to the two of us, Zimbabwe and Zambia,” said VP Mohadi.
“What’s interesting is that South Africa invites tourists saying visit South Africa and see the Victoria Falls. Zambia also advertises Victoria Falls, but they are on the back of the Falls which are in Zimbabwe.
“We are grateful that you came to hold the conference here in Victoria Falls which are one of the Seven Wonders of the World, but there is also Great Zimbabwe where the name of this country comes from and you should go there and experience a great Kingdom which was led by one of the empires who ruled up to Beira, hence I usually say we are not a landlocked country.”
At one point, VP Mohadi spoke at length with a delegate from Botswana’s Maun town in fluent Setswana telling her that he was familiar with Botswana.
He did the same with Lozi speaking delegates as he made his concluding words in the language.
The conference started yesterday and ends tomorrow.