Professor André Odendaal said the Xhosa-language book came “a century too late”, but was an act of recognition and redress, much more than a mere translation. Photo: Jason Boud/INLSA

JOHANNESBURG – In a significant historic milestone, isiXhosa formally became one of the global languages of cricket with the first-ever booklet on the laws of cricket in the language, launched at Newlands on Friday.

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport in the Western Cape, linguist and isiXhosa language specialist Xolisa Tshongolo, the renowned cricket historian André Odendaal and other cricketing and academics played pivotal roles in the extensive project to translate the rule book from English to Xhosa.

Brent Walters, head of Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, said through the development of cricket terms, they are adding to the lexicography of the Xhosa language.

“We need to act in a way that talks to the heart of our people… we do not only need to say that people are included. We need to demonstrate this through our actions and deeds,” said Walters.

Odendaal said this Xhosa-language book, produced around 160 years after cricket was first played by Xhosa-speaking South Africans, came “a century too late”, but was an act of recognition and redress, much more than a mere translation.

Xhosa speakers were playing in numbers and with enthusiasm throughout the then-Cape Colony.

For example, by 1864, cricket was the favourite game of the sons of kings and chiefs at Zonnebloem College.

African teams took on and performed credibly against the white town clubs in the Cape Colony of the time, and the first of 16 Native Inter-Town Tournaments in 1884 was one of the earliest representative competitions in sport in South Africa.

In 1898/99, African cricketers were among the leaders in setting up the South African Coloured Cricket Board (one of the oldest national cricket controlling bodies in the world) and starting the interstate tournaments for the Barnato Trophy.

This was in the same decade when the official County Championship in England, the Sheffield Shield in Australia and the whites-only Currie Cup were launched.

African News Agency (ANA)