Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

"Kunjani!" is now recognised throughout the cricket world as an official alternative to "Howzat!"

The laws of the game have been translated into isiXhosa for the first time‚ the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced on Tuesday.

Cricket SA board member Beresford Williams‚ president of the Western Province Cricket Association‚ was presented with a copy of the booklet containing the translation last week at Newlands.

The department of cultural affairs and sport in the Western Cape‚ linguist and isiXhosa language specialist Xolisa Tshongolo, and cricket historian André Odendaal were among those who worked on the translation with Cricket SA and the Marylebone Cricket Club.

Peter Bacela‚ a former selector and Xhosa commentator‚ was also consulted for the project‚ which aims to take cricket to rural areas and previously disadvantaged communities.

Odendaal said the book‚ produced about 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. According to the SuperSport website, Xhosa speakers were enthusiastic cricketers throughout the then Cape Colony in the mid-19th century. Black teams regularly played white teams‚ and the first of 16 Native Inter-Town Tournaments in 1884 was one of the earliest representative competitions in South African sport.

In 1898-1899‚ African cricketers were among the leaders in setting up the South African Coloured Cricket Board and starting the inter-state tournaments for the Barnato Trophy. This was in the same decade that the official County Championship in England‚ the Sheffield Shield in Australia and the whites-only Currie Cup were launched.

Brent Walters‚ head of the Western Cape department of cultural affairs and sport‚ said that through the development of cricketing terms the project was 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."

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