A documentary that premiered in New York and won the prestigious Women Film Critics Award, Lost Tongue is, as the name infers, a story of losing one’s native language. In particular, a tribe of San, who over the years have become so accustomed to what was expected of them in speaking Afrikaans that they have completely lost touch not only with their home tongue, but with their heritage altogether.
This story resonates with me as a long time traveller, someone who’s grown up all over. I often feel as though I don’t belong in the country I’m originally from, understand the people I share a heritage with, or even grasp the language properly – in this case, Afrikaans! The search for one’s beginnings and roots is so personal and deep, and it’s something I respect Director Davison Mudzingwa for exploring in all its murkiness…
And it is murky. I was completely lost (pardon the pun) initially in finding out where the story was headed, not to mention the gritty cinematography, and the awkward laments of an uncaring government who, so clearly based on the comments given, have ‘more pressing matters’ to deal with.
Having said that, overall it’s a great story of ancestry, of growing up and losing the you you wanted, and realising when you have children they won’t know that person, they won’t know that culture, that Khomani San hand-me-downs, that N!uu language, not ever. It’s both a beautiful and tragic tale of another tribe slowly being lost to the sands of time, the twenty-first century – or both – and how they plan on changing their destiny as a people group in modern South Africa.
As SA Producer Francis Hweshe explains, “We want to play our part in stemming the tide and to be part of the efforts to roll it back. This centre will be the symbol of hope and regeneration of the N!uu language.”