The laws of cricket have been published in an African language for the first time, with a copy now available in isiXhosa, one of South Africa’s 11 official languages and one of Zimbabwe’s 16 official languages. The laws were presented in the form of a booklet at Newlands.
The project to translate the laws was undertaken by cricket historian and professor Andre Odendaal, the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Cricket South Africa, and the MCC. It involved a painstaking process to ensure the terminology was correctly understood, and, in some cases, new words created. To that end, renowned commentator Peter Bacela was among the experts consulted.
Bacela had previously spoken to ESPNcricinfo about the complexities of commentating in isiXhosa. It is the only African language used in television and radio commentary, largely because it is the mother-tongue of the people from the Eastern Cape, the heartland of black African cricket. Cricket has been played among isiXhosa speakers in the province since the mid-1800s and several of South Africa’s early black African players, such as Makhaya Ntini and Mfuneko Ngam, were isiXhosa speakers.
Speaking to fans in their own language was a key reason behind the translation of the laws, which were previously only available in English and Afrikaans. “We need to act in a way that talks to the heart of our people,” Brent Walters, head of Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, said. “We do not only need to say that people are included. We need to demonstrate this through our actions and deeds. Connecting in the mother-tongue with our young people provides a special intangible value.”