It should be forward ever, backward never for Kiswahili

THERE are interesting stories that do the rounds about Kiswahili, the beautiful language which Tanzania lays claim as one of the leading promoters of unity and peace in the country.

One of them is that during a visit to Tanzania, members of a family from an English-speaking European country went the proverbial extra mile to master the language the best they could.

They figured out that one of the best ways of doing so was to discourage using English, their mother tongue, as the tool of conversation with Tanzanians.

It was a huge surprise to Tanzanians who were fairly good at the so called Queen’s language, and thought they would be making the visitors a big favour as they seemed to be tortured by the local language.

They stuck to their guns, arguing that, by speaking ‘broken Kiswahili’, and being corrected, was the best way of learning the language.

The method paid off handsomely, the way the visitors became good enough at Kiswahili to become instructors to friends back home, ahead of visits to Tanzania.

The attitude of those Europeans, plus many of their compatriots, stemmed from love for Kiswahili. Within the ‘Charity begins at home context’, Tanzanians should be the frontline lovers of the language.

Surprisingly and annoyingly, however, considerable injustice is being perpetrated against Kiswahili within Tanzania, which, by sheer logic, should be its leading promoters.

We have commented on this anomaly in the past and will continue doing so, in the hope that what may be characterized as ‘positive noise’ is neutralized. Polluted Kiswahili, mostly through chipping in elements of English that have produced ‘Kiswanglish’, ‘Kiswakinge’ and ‘Kiswangreza’, is most annoying.

For Tanzania is supposed to be an example setter. Whatever the flaws though, the country deserves credit, the flaws being within its capability to fix.

It is significant, to that end, that the country has earned accolades for forming Kiswahili councils on the Mainland and in Zanzibar, an initiative that is supposed to be undertaken by all East African Community partner states.

This is an issue that should be given the weight it deserves, considering that the language’s popularity transcends regional borders.

It is indeed significant to remind ourselves that besides factors that attract foreigners to the countries in the bloc, Kiswahili ranks high. The more reason, therefore, why consolidating the language is critical.

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