Man Behind Facebook Shona Prediction App Unmasked

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.

Using what is called artificial intelligence software on the website, 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, has broken the social media platform Facebook with many users taking the test whose results, though generic, are either humorous or absurd.

By Bongani Ndlovu

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?”

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