The news has been hailed as a watershed moment for the African language by Mthuli Buthelezi, one of the lecturers appointed to teach it at the Beijing Foreign Studies University.

The relationship between South Africa and China has taken a new dimension following the publication of a Zulu-Chinese textbook.

Following the launch of the first Zulu lessons at the university, the world’s first Zulu-Chinese textbook and Zulu-English-Mandarin dictionary have also been published.

The news has been hailed as a watershed moment for the African language by Mthuli Buthelezi, one of the lecturers appointed to teach it at the Beijing Foreign Studies University.

“The Zulu-Chinese textbook is intended for the Chinese students who are learning Zulu as an additional language. The textbook can also be used by Zulu-speaking students who are learning Chinese,” he said.

“But what the Chinese want is to have their own material which they can use to teach Zulu at the university. They want a textbook written in Zulu and then explained in Mandarin and English.

“There are plans to achieve that as we speak. They want a dictionary that can explain Zulu to Mandarin.”

He is confident great strides are being made towards the African language being treated as an academic language and this will only serve to bolster that goal.

“There has been a move to have indigenous languages at academic institutions. In 2014, the University of KwaZulu-Natal started a programme to compel all its students to have Zulu as one of their subjects before they graduate.

“What we are doing in China is a great progress in making Zulu an academic language. It is not just a colloquial language,” Buthelezi said.

The move is also clearly one aimed at bolstering good relations between South Africa and China.

The two countries governments are becoming increasingly intertwined to the point where the Chinese President was mentioned in South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s dream for the future of the country in his State of the Nation Address.

“It is part of the diplomacy that the Chinese want to have with South Africa. That university is the biggest university in China that specialises in foreign languages,” Buthelezi explained.

“What they do is that in all the countries that China has diplomatic relations with, they teach the languages of those countries. South Africa is China’s biggest trading partners in Africa.”

-TheSouthafrican

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The news has been hailed as a watershed moment for the African language by Mthuli Buthelezi, one of the lecturers appointed to teach it at the Beijing Foreign Studies University. The relationship between South Africa and China has taken a new dimension following the publication of a Zulu-Chinese textbook. Following the launch...