EAC roots for more Kiswahili presence

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MEMBER states within the East African Community now wish to establish National Kiswahili Councils within their respective countries to show commitment in promoting the language in the region.

The call was made here yesterday by Prof Kenneth Inyani Simala, Executive Secretary, East African Kiswahili Commission (EAKC) during a meeting with team of the East African Legislatives Assembly (EALA) delegation on ‘the on-spot assessment of institutions, installations and facilities of the EAC on the central corridor.’ “Despite financial challenges facing the Commission, we have been playing our part well, advising the governments on how we should move on.

It is unfortunate that there is slowness in implementation,” Prof Simala said here yesterday at the Commission offices. “It is only Tanzania which has the Kiswahili Council. I urge other member states to do the same and implement other agreed plans,” the Executive Secretary said as he also listed some challenges facing the commission.

The team of EALA delegation led by Hon Wanjiku Muhia from Kenya heard Prof talk about weakness in legislation, insufficient budget allocation, under staffing, and last year’s attempted theft of the commission’s funds from its account (he did not release details at the open meeting).

He said that after raising voice including reporting to the police about the missing money from the Commission’s account, the amount was returned, “But we need to know who had taken the money and why?” Prof Simala said he has visited Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya to see the pace of building Kiswahili as per protocol, and that plans are underway to visit South Sudan- new member.

“Each member state needs to be committed in promoting Kiswahili and it should be taught in primary and Secondary schools,” he said. Speaking on behalf of the delegation, Ms Muhia commended the ‘EAC Kiswahili Commission’ (EAKC) staff for making noticeable progress despite challenges, and that the members of the legislature will put pressure on the regional body to have the problems minimized or overcame.

The EAKC was established in 2015 with its main offices in Zanzibar, and Article 137 (2) of the EAC treaty states that Kiswahili shall be developed as a linguafranca of the community, to support sustainable development and regional integration.

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