ON July 7th this year, Tanzania joined other countries to mark the first World Kiswahili Language Day and this came as a milestone for the East African country, which is an epicenter of the language.
The development milestones achieved in Tanzania within 61 years of Independence is attributed to the growth of Kiswahili language, as a key unifying factor among its citizens.
Use of a single unifying language among Tanzanians was brought about by the country’s founding father, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere soon after attaining independence.
Mwalimu Nyerere had foresight when he declared that Kiswahili would be the national language as soon as the country attained its independence. Due to the unifying language, people could easily interact without having to be recognised by their ethnicity.
This also saw the use of Kiswahili in all levels of government, trade, art as well as schools in which, primary school children are taught in the language, before switching to English as medium of instruction from secondary to other high level of education.
Kiswahili as a lingua franca in the African Great Lakes region, as well as in the East and Southern African and this is among a reason which has enabled the language to become the tenth most used language globally.
During the celebrations, President Samia Suluhu Hassan outlined a number of strategies by the government of Tanzania aimed at spreading the lingua franca globally.
In a recorded video clip played during the marking of the day which was graced by Vice-President, Dr Philip Mpango at the Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre (JNICC) in Dar es Salaam, Ms Samia said Tanzania has played a crucial role in development and spreading of the language.
The Tanzanian leader mentioned a number of the strategies aimed at spreading the use of the language in the world such as establishment of Kiswahili learning centres at Tanzania’s embassies abroad.
She further revealed that the commemoration of the World Kiswahili Language Day should pave the way for increased budget allocation and improvement of infrastructure at councils and institutions which train Kiswahili teachers. Ms Samia noted further that the government aims to establish a national strategy to market Kiswahili language globally.
She said the national strategy will focus on empowering the institutions charged with teaching Kiswahili to build capacity and train more teachers for Kiswahili language worldwide.
Indeed, the time has come for the world to adopt Kiswahili as the United Nations official language, taking into account that it’s the only true authentic and indigenous African language that is widely spoken across the globe.
Kiswahili is considered as the tenth most spoken language which is spoken by over 200 million people globally. Minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Dr Damas Ndumbaro, made the call at the event to commemorate the United Nations Day which was accompanied by the launching of the first and only UN website which is in Kiswahili.
According to him, Kiswahili is the only true authentic and indigenous African National language which has been accepted by the East African Community (EAC), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU).
“It is high time now the UN adopts Kiswahili as its official language, and we believe when we are celebrating the next 78th United Nations anniversary we will be using Kiswahili.
This will be after it has been accepted by the UN,” noted Dr Ndumbaro. He pointed out that Tanzania, as the birthplace of Kiswahili language takes pride in the landmark decision by the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) of November 23, last to designate July 7 as the World Kiswahili Language Day.
The minister revealed that the decision, the first International Day of Kiswahili was commemorated this year, commending the UNESCO and the United Nations for promoting multilingualism as an essential element in achieving the 2030 Agenda for as an essential element in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs).
He welcomed other development partners to follow suit by adding Kiswahili to their own websites, noting that when delivering a message to people using the language they understand it can be widely dissemi DAILY NEWS FRIDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2022 15 nated.
The UN Resident Coordinator, Mr Zlatan Milisic, commended the government of Tanzania for its longstanding, sustained commitment to the United Nations and multilateralism.
“This UN birthday is perhaps also an opportune time to reflect on the future,” said Mr Milisic , pointing out that the second “SDG Summit” – the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development under the auspices of the General Assembly will be convened in September 2023 during the General Assembly high-level week in New York. He said that the summit will mark the midpoint in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Deputy Minister for Arts, Culture and Sports, Ms Pauline Gekul revealed that since Independence, the use of Kiswahili has massively grown from being a language of unity to a commodity.
“The growing use of Kiswahili within and outside Tanzania as a commodity has enabled the language to continue to thrive and be used to a point of becoming the tenth most widely used language in the world,” said Ms Gekul. She, equally, observed that Kiswahili was adopted as among official languages of the African Union (AU) in 2006 and the Southern African Development Community (SADC-2019).
In the East African Community (EAC), Kiswahili is a very important language for people within the region. She said it is the language which is widely spoken within the EAC community, therefore, must be embraced and held high in all spheres.
Similarly she said, the noble language is currently being employed by more than 100 radio stations and channels broadcasts across the world. Such includes almost all major international media outlets, including British Broadcasting Services (BBS), Voice of America (VOA), Germany’s Deutsche Welle and China media outlets.
She revealed that the establishment of the various higher learning institutions that teach using Kiswahili in their undergraduate and post-graduate programmes has helped to further strengthen the language around the world. “This has enabled our experts to be employed in teaching Kiswahili locally and abroad as a step towards the internationalisation of the language,” she stated.
Ms Gekul also revealed that major steps have been taken by the country to further promote Kiswahili by introducing a 10 years between 2021-2031 strategies involving the country’s embassies in the promotion of the language.
She noted that three embassies have started the implementation of the program as they continue engaging more others to take the task as a move to further promote Kiswahili as a crucial commodity of the country.