Local and youthful information technology (IT) entrepreneur led by Itumeleng Garebatshabe together with other professionals; Keneilwe Mohutsiwa (Lead Developer), Francois Titus (Sound Engineer), Itumeleng Garebatshabe and Ndulamo Malumbela (Content Creator) have together combined their creative brains to develop an app that will enable Batswana to understand other indigenous languages.
Through their company, Intellegere Media (IM) the crew has taken a leading position in sharing the rich cultural history of Botswana through technology. The project dubbed ‘BW Lingos’ was launched at the Botswana Innovation Hub yesterday (Monday 24 July 2017) in Gaborone.
According to the innovative crew, the app development began with the Heritage Series which featured the history of all tribes found in Botswana – and an additional development was the more interactive ‘Learn Setswana’ and ‘Learn Kalanga’ apps. Speaking during the launch, IM Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Garebatshabe demonstrated the need to develop essence of belonging through language with the help of modern technology as more and more millennials especially the youth spend the better part of their lives online.
“We have made learning about our own culture much easier for the modern-day generation. Today’s launch is part of taking the BW Lingos app to the next stage, first by celebrating our achievements, then highlighting all the developments.” Furthermore, with the international asistance from the German community volunteers, the app has been developed to translate both German and Setswana and an exchange programme between the two IT specialists.”
“We are proud to say through our engagement with the German community volunteers group we have since developed a German-Setswana version of the Learn Setswana app. These are the sort of trailblazing achievements that Batswana App developers are capable of. We are encouraged by the global recognition of our home grown tools, and will continue to lead the industry in putting Botswana on the global map,” said Garebatshabe
Also noteworthy, Garebatshabe stated, “In any modern world, technology is an important tool though which to preserve and share our heritage. Our initial idea to help save our culture evolved into an idea of sharing it as well to achieve the same purpose. Our incubator programme, Project 120, aimed at creating mobile applications by Batswana for Botswana and the world, kicked off the initiative.
The apps developed resulted in over 15 million downloads worldwide since 2012. We also received fantastic feedback which resulted in a partnership with a set of German overseas volunteers based at the Madikwe Rural Development Program in South Africa. We engaged with the young volunteers for a pilot programme during their induction which saw our team install the Learn Setswana app and monitored the volunteers’ language skill development.”
“The BW Lingos and Heritage Series Apps are helping to close a big information gap about Botswana history. The combined reach of the apps is such that practical language skills are imparted and historical information (much of it from out of print historical books) is made readily available again. These apps are designed to encourage a reading and learning culture as schools across Botswana will now find it easier to access this information, even scholars in other countries can learn about Botswana in one click. The app has been downloaded worldwide, with the most popular downloads coming from Botswana, South Africa, Canada and Zimbabwe”
IM has worked with other Botswana app developers; academics such as Dr. Jeff Ramsay and Professor Lydia Saleshando; mother tongue narrators in Setswana, iKalanga and sheKgalagadi; field test partners such as the Madikwe Rural Development Program and its batch of German overseas volunteers; all in a quest to package, preserve and share Botswana heritage.