Kiswahili picking tempo as formal EAC language

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THE East African Kiswahili Commission (EAKC) has pledged to go the proverbial extra mile to ensure that the language is applied extensively in various sectors of the regional block, beyond conversations amongst the people.

Speaking here after a three-day discussion on strategies for making Kiswahili vibrant, after being endorsed as one of the official languages of the East African Community, members of the commission said the language would be used as one of the tools for driving the integration agenda.

EAKC Executive Secretary, Professor Kenneth Simala, said they had conceived a strategic plan and different practice to achieve the goals set, by ensuring that the language was standardised and not used haphazardly.

“The Commission has a mandate drawn from the protocol that brought it into being; we are going to improve the use of Kiswahili among stakeholders; they should go by the guidelines and principles so that users of the same language do not differ.

The strategy outlines clearly the responsibilities and what should be done,” said Professor Simala. The executive secretary noted that the Commission would cooperate with Kiswahili councils in partner states to ensure that its ethics are safeguarded.

He said emergence of different Kiswahili associations and institutions in EAC member was a good thing but said it was upon the respective countries’ councils to ensure compliance.

Another EAKC member, Professor Kimani Njogu, said they were keen to see to it that the language was used to consolidate regional cohesion and not to be too obsessed with association with particular countries.

The founder of the Kenya National Swahili Committee (Chama cha Kiswahili cha Taifa – Chakita Kenya), which guided the process of developing the language in the country, said they would like the people of East Africa to build their economy and culture under the auspices of Kiswahili – a mission that foreign languages like English or French could not accomplish.

“Kiswahili should not be used merely as a tool for exchanging greetings, but for improving our cultures and building a sustainable economy of the East African bloc. Use it in science and technology so that it is understood professionally. We should together spread it all over Africa and to the world at large,” he said.

On her part, Dr Anna Kishe said that being a vehicle of unity and development, its use must be in different sectors and has to be properly guided.

“We are happy that even the East African Legislative Assembly has passed a resolution to the effect that Kiswahili be among the official languages of the parliament,” said the senior lecturer at Open University of Tanzania.

EAKC is an institution of the EAC responsible for the coordination and promotion of the development and use of Kiswahili in the region and beyond. It is charged with the responsibility of coordinating the development of Kiswahili as a lingua franca for regional and international interaction for political, economic, social, cultural, educational, scientific and technical development.

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