IN August, this year the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Heads of State Summit met in Dar es Salaam and declared Kiswahili the bloc’s fourth official language after English, French and Portuguese. Kudos!
During the occasion, the outgoing Chairman of the regional bloc and Namibian President, Dr Hage Geingob, hinted before handing over the Chairmanship to Tanzanian President John Magufuli that his country will give the language priority, and reflecting on what South African President Nelson Mandela once said “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart,” it means the language would be the most powerful weapon to usher in development in the region.
With the call of the Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, while presiding over a fundraising for the Uzalendo na Taifa, which loosely translates as Nationality and Patriotism, in Dar es Salaam that Kiswahili be further groomed to promote Tanzania’s culture and other developments.
His school of thought should be supported not only by Tanzanians, but in the entire East Africa region and beyond, because it is the only language spoken by over 100 million people in the continent.
This is Africa’s lingua franca which has been recognised by reputable foreign media organisations such as the BBC, and Radio Deutsch Welle, which broadcast programmes using it, meaning that it is a force to reckon with in the world.
With this in mind, Kiswahili being a trade language is very useful in transacting business in East and Central Africa bloc, and officially addressing issues which affect its members, why ignore such a language?
Basically, when countries in the bloc got independence, they settled on Kiswahili to unite their various ethnic communities, and governments to mobilize against the colonialists, and independence was brought home, why ditch the language now?
We should know and be proud that grooming Kiswahili is the only incredible way to meet new people and make new friends abroad.
The language has no complications at all because one pronounces it as one writes it unlike other foreign languages, and it’s particularly useful to have knowledge of the language while doing business in the region.
An investor should know that Kiswahili is a language of influence politically, economically and socially, and a master of it can deepen one’s business relationships with both citizens (read workers) and the authorities.
One should not be surprised that as an investor, who would also have to source local workers within, the language would his free movement regardless of being in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the language unites all.
The language also plays an important part in education and research, and Academicians and other Scientists ought to enhance credibility of their researches, data collection and information sharing banking on the language especially in the Africa’s evolving markets, and ignoring it would be short sight.