Analysing Municipal Population Statistics with R

Last updated on: 12 August, 2015 by Musa Kurhula Baloyi

This article was supposed to be entitled “How Thulamela Underdeveloped Malamulele”, inspired by the book “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” written by Walter Rodney. I came up this similar title because one, I am from Malamulele, and two, I have witnessed first-hand how an uncaring government can drive a community to extreme levels of poverty and with that self-destruction. I was hoping to look at all the projects that were done in Malamulele compared to the ones that were done in Thohoyandou, the dual seat of Thulamela Local Municipality and Vhembe District Municipality. I would look at the cost of each project as well as the status of completion. This would highlight the subtleties of the municipality's spending patterns.

Read more

Agile Manifesto se ya Kumeka hi Ririmi ra Manana

Last updated: July 2014 by Musa Kurhula Baloyi

Agile Manifesto yi tsariwile hi vatsari vo ringana khume-mune: Mike Beedle, Arie van Bennekum, Alistair Cockburn, Ward Cunningham, Martin Fowler, Jim Highsmith, Andrew Hunt, Ron Jeffries, Jon Kern, Brian Marick, Robert C. Martin, Ken Schwaber, Jeff Sutherland na Dave Thomas. A ku ri lembe ra 2001 hi Nyenyanyani.

Hi Xitsonga, agile manifesto hi nga ku i “swikoxo swa matirhelo yo hatlisa no olova”, ku ya hi muhundzuluxi, tatana Musa Kurhula Baloyi. Tatana Baloyi va tirha eka company yin’we na van’wana va vatsari, ku nga vatatana Martin Fowler na Jim Highsmith. Muthori wa vona i ThoughtWorks. Tsalwa leri ri ni nkoka swinene eka ku tsala ti-program ta computer (software), hambileswi ri nga tirhiki kona ntsena.

Khaleni ka khaleni, ku tlula khume ra malembe la ma nga hundza, software a yi kunguhatiwa nkarhi wo leha, tin’wheti kumbe malembe (“requirements gathering”). Se loko va hetile a va hlela makungu, va ma xopaxopa (“analysis”). Kutani va ma andlala hi ku tirhisa swifaniso (“design”). Emakumu ku ngheniwa ehansi ku mpfampfarhutiwa code (marito lama twisisiwaka hi computer, ma yi byela leswaku yi endla yini). Xiphemu lexi xi vitaniwa “implementation”. Matirhelo lawa hi ku angarhela ma vitaniwa “waterfall model”.

Read more

Building a Social Media Platform in an African Context

Last updated on: April 19, 2015 by Musa Kurhula Baloyi, Tsatsi Slyvester Mahase

Social media networks have been around for a while and have changed the way individuals interact with their circles and beyond. However, we believe that Africa still has to create one social network that is going to address its needs, unlike conforming to an existing trend. There are many challenges to this, but in the same breath, many opportunities abound. We are going to go into the details of what these challenges are and also how a social media company can take advantage of the opportunities around the continent.

Read more

How to prepare to start playing with Datawinners

Last updated on: March 22, 2015 by Musa Kurhula Baloyi

I started preparing to join the Datawinners team while I was still in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. The team is based out of Koramangala, Bengaluru. I found that it was not easy to get started. Although I had my prospective team helping me setup from all the way in Bangalore, I found that I lacked proper understanding as to why we needed this package, this version of that package, this OS, Java on a Python project, etc. I felt that had a detailed README document been prepared, I would have navigated my way better. What could have also helped is an architectural diagram showing how things were connected. But I did not have this luxury. For a small team of 6, somehow I understood why the team never invested in documentation. Afterall, we did not have any open source contributors in spite of the project being of open source nature.

Read more

Programming a Game of Pong with Scratch

Last updated on: December, 2011 by Musa Kurhula Baloyi


Here are instructions on how to program your own pong game. After following these instructions successfully, you might want to check where you went wrong in your previous code or what you did better. Be free to improve on this game. As you will come to see, there is a lot of repeat code, more especially when you have to choose a new y value and when you have to decide who serves.

First you need to understand the task you're trying to accomplish. You're asked to develop a game of pong that has two players playing against each other. There are no strict rules as to who serves and when; or even the number of points to reach the end of game.

Now decide what sprites (objects) you will need to accomplish this task. They are a table or court where your players will be playing, your two players and your tennis ball.





All these sprites can be drawn by selecting the “Paint new sprite” button on top of the Sprite List. Name your sprites as shown above.

Read more

Refactoring a Ncuva Game Code Snippet

Last updated on: November 6, 2013 by Musa Kurhula Baloyi


The code below populates the initial board state for the game of Ncuva.

The for loop makes use of 3 global variables: the length, width width and number of stones in each slot. The length and width control how much looping is done. The two cases for the number of stones catered for here are 2 and 3.

Executing this code will give rise to a structure like this:

As you can see from the figure displayed above, there is a pattern at work here. The pattern screams out: there are too many 2’s! We gather that we do not have to loop through all of a to know how many stones to place in each slot.

On having noticed the pattern, we go ahead and fill a with 2 or 3 stones according to the user’s choice. How many corrections would we have to do if we filled a with 2’s? Would this approach provide any savings? 6 (at best 4) corrections are better than 4x10x5 (at worst 4x10x7) checks.

Read more

The 10,000 Mark

Last updated on: May 21, 2015 by Musa Kurhula Baloyi

It took me less than 2 weeks to clean the data that now forms part of the more than 10,000-word online dictionary. This is besides the work I had to do in scanning the hardcopy dictionary and then converting from PDF to text file. In comparison, the Second Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary contains around 231,000 words [OED.com , Oxford Dictionaries ], while the Urban Dictionary contains approximately 6 million definitions and 2.1 million unique words and phrases. It would be hard to know how many words in total exist in the Xitsonga language or for all African languages combined, but for an estimated 2,000 languages, there should be around a billion. In a way, 10,000 is an achievement, but still scratching the surface in terms of the possibilities that exist.

Read more

Introducing Madyondza

The Johannesburg meetup with the goal of localising world information and digitising African knowledge

Last updated on: September 30, 2014 by Musa Kurhula Baloyi

The name

The name “madyondza” is a Xitsonga word for “first child”. Split into “ma” and “dyondza” it would mean: “you learn”. These two meanings are consistent with a project of this kind. This is why:

  1. It is an experiment
  2. It is educational

Over and above these reasons, I chose it because one can explain a lot of things about language and grammar from it. It has a synonym, it follows a particular orthography, and like most other words, spelling it wrong can change the meaning of your sentence.

The mission

Localisation and digitisation in the African context leaves much to be desired. In the past, this topic has been relegated to blog discussions and WhatsApp group chats. This way of doing things has proved inefficient. Too many disparate groups have emerged, albeit with a single vision.

We hope to connect people with different skills, belonging to varying organisations, to achieve a single goal. Part of it is to also help each other understand what this single goal actually is, as well as work on refining it and keeping it alive.


Read more

Localisation and Digitisation in Africa

My Experiences Localising and Digitising Tswa-Ronga Material

Last updated on: September 3, 2013 by Musa Kurhula Baloyi

This is a story about the day it all changed for me, and hopefully for other African and minority language speakers. It is a story about the day I had my “stroke of genius”. However, there was nothing particularly genius about this idea. It was all common sense, which, until this day, was not so common thanks to decades, perhaps centuries, of thinking in a particularly constrained manner.

I was upset when I read the comment; No-one has the right to tell me what language to speak! But the conversation drove me to perform a quick Google search for an online Tsonga dictionary. To my surprise, no online dictionary existed! Instead I found dictionaries for almost all the other South African languages, and, if a dictionary or translator did not exist at the time, it was in the works.

In South Africa, there is a perception that all Tsonga people are from Mozambique, so they are excluded from most national services such as TV broadcasting. But Mozambique is not so keen on preserving, let alone developing, native languages. Although Zimbabwe and Swaziland are active in language preservation, Tsonga is a minority there, so no African governments are actively trying to preserve the language. I found websites claiming to offer translation services, but they were just that, claims.

Read more

Media release statement to the Municipal Demarcation Board of South Africa

Last updated on: March 04, 2015 by Nkateko Mirhumba Chake

Nhlanganelo wo Hluvukisa Xitsonga (NHLAHLUXI) is a registered NPO whose objective is to promote the development of all Vatsonga in the Southern African subcontinent (region), and indeed the whole world.

We have acknowledged with concern the recent developments in the Malamulele area and we feel that we cannot remain aloof when the rights of our people are trampled upon and the will of the affected people, not the wishes of their political masters that are paramount in determining the discourse and direction to be taken. Indeed, after making their grievances known, the people of Malamulele must surely be wondering about the following:

  1. Who in fact is governing their area if they, the people and their wishes are not taken into consideration when the decision affecting their daily lives are taken?
  2. Who represents them and their interests when in the decision making process after realizing that the voices of their elected representatives (e.g. Task Team) are either muted, ignored or absent in this whole demarcation upheaval.
  3. Whether they are taken seriously since successive delegations representing local, regional (district), provincial and national government structures have visited the area whenever tensions flare up and yet each contingent seems to be on a new fact-finding mission every time, meaning either the previous ones never reported or it was a window-dressing exercise.
Read more

The Missing Chapter

Last updated on: August 14, 2015 by Bantsi Makhandeni


The Death of Gazankulu

The years 1990 - 1993 were a period of transition, where the National Party (led by Frederik Willem de Klerk) and the ANC (led by Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela) shared power. In 1994, the Gazankulu and all homeland governments were dissolved. That meant the map of South Africa needed to be redrawn. The homeland or bantustan system was created based on language. Except in one case where the Xhosa had two homelands, every other indigenous South African language was assigned a homeland. So in 1994 the first-ever democratically-elected president in South Africa was ushered in.

The Birth of Thulamela

Between 1994 and 1999, Malamulele was part of the Levubu-Shingwedzi Transitional Local Municipality. This municipality incorporated all areas east of Ribvubye, which included some areas led by Tshivenda-speaking chiefs. Malamulele is Xitsonga-speaking. Between 1999 and 2001, the Levubu-Shingwedzi Transitional Local Municipality was joined with the Thohoyandou Transitional Local Municipality. Thohoyandou used to be the capital of the Venda homeland, predominantly west of Ribvubye.

Many chiefs, coucillors, and residents from Malamulele were against this move. The people of Malamulele had been used to Malamulele Town being the center of their administration since the 1970's, that's around 30 years. Now all that was about to change. Thohoyandou was more developed than Malamulele owing to having been the capital of Venda, but Malamulele was not that worse off. Malamulele could handle almost all economic activities.

Read more