Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Zim man brings Shona to Facebook

By Bongani Ndlovu

A South African-based Zimbabwean has translated a humorous prediction Facebook app, Testony, into chiShona and has excited and united many who are enjoying using the character challenge.

Lyton Mandemwa

Using what is called artificial intelligence software on the website en.testyon.com, Lyton Mandemwa based in Cape Town realised that the software in its test and predictions, only catered for people speaking in English and decided to localise it.

He translated the predictions of people’s moods, character and future among others to chiShona and has generated a lot of interest among Zimbabweans.

Apparently, testony.com has broken the social media platform Facebook with many users taking the test whose results, though generic, are either humorous or absurd.

“I’d use the prediction game when I was using Facebook. Like many, I’d be amused at the responses and then it hit me, why can’t this be in my mother tongue,” said Mandemwa.

Working as a merchandiser in the port city, Mandemwa said localising the app was not difficult.

“You just go to the website and set up the game with whatever responses you want. It took me one day to do that. I was surprised with the response from people around Zimbabwe,” he said.

Some of the questions on the test are ‘ndakanaka kana kuti ndakanyangara (am I beautiful or ugly), Ndine dzungu kana kuti ndakadzikama (am I calm and collected) and wakafitwa nekugara kunzvimbo ipi (which residential area suits you).

Some of the responses have been telling people what they would love to hear while some have been blunt, telling people that they are far from being beautiful.

The software has also been translated into isiZulu, isiXhosa and SeSotho with even those who do not understand the languages playing it.

This has somehow educated people who at times interpret for themselves or ask multilingual colleagues to translate for them.

These have been the popular tests being taken in isiZulu: “Uloyiwa ngubani? Ndimhle okanye ndimbi?”

 What has made the software interesting is the use of areas and characters that people know.

Some like comedian Comic Pastor have been encouraging people to use the software and play the game which he has named chiGame saying people needed to loosen up and just have a good laugh.

“Those that are not playing chigame think that they’ve made it in life,” posted the Comic Pastor.

He also took a swipe at people saying some were playing the game secretly and not posting their responses as they would have been told the truth.

“You didn’t share when you were told that you were ugly because your heart confessed so.”

However, an ICT expert, Robert Ndlovu, who has worked at Google in the Silicon Valley, said that although people will be having fun using such applications, they must exercise caution as they could be hacked.

“The primary aim of these applications is to capture marketing data that can be sold. In other words, you’re surrendering your account to the application and shouldn’t wonder when you get hacked in future and complain.

“The more applications you give access to your Facebook account, the wider the gate for hackers to catwalk your account willy nilly,” said Ndlovu.

He said this was one of the many and effective ways that Facebook gathers personal data from its billions of users.

“Facebook funds the development of these applications and as such, there’re invisible strings attached to their use which come in the form of intuitive and exciting applications.

“These applications gain unlimited, unfettered, uncontrolled, unchecked access to your personal data and all your contacts. And remember that these applications always ask for permission to login using your Facebook account,” said Ndlovu.

As a remedy, Ndlovu said people from time to time should remove these applications.

“Users should after a certain period, revoke the application’s access to their accounts. This is done by going to settings, then applications and removing or delete all those apps that you don’t want,” said Ndlovu. The Chronicle