IsiBheqe keyboard

May 22, 2015 - June 30, 2015

       Arts Foundation / Projects


A collaboration with performer and linguist Nicholas Pule Welch on the development of an online keyboard that allows writing in the script IsiBheqe, a writing system created by Welch for Southern African languages.

IsiBheqe/Ditema is an indigenous writing system for Southern Bantu languages, in development by linguist and performer Nicholas Pule Welch. Conceptualised in conversation with indigenous scripts across the continent, IsiBheqe proposes a practical tool through which questions of decolonisation may be engaged and pursued. The incremental and experimental development of the system prompts a diverse range of supporting inquiries - from research into technological innovations and adaptations, to critical questions around the histories and hegemonies of language, speech, writing and sound in Southern Africa.

Isibheqe functions as a syllabary, with each character or grapheme denoting an individual syllable. Using triangles of different orientations to designate vowels, additional shapes and lines converge inside and around these to indicate consonants. The form of the system is iconic rather than arbitrary, with design features observing longstanding visual, semiotic traditions within South Africa, as well as the physical mechanics of speech.


Nicholas Pule Welch

Coordinator and design:
Francis Burger

Software design:
Baruch Lubinsky