Z’bar First VP pushes for more efforts to promote Kiswahili

ZANZIBAR: THE Zanzibar First Vice President Othman Masoud Othman, has highlighted the importance of developing and promoting Kiswahili language as core contributor to economic diplomacy.

He made the observation in his speech at the closing of the ‘7th Kiswahili Language International forum’ held at the Sheikh Idriss Abdulwakil Multi-purpose Hall in the City where representatives from Comoro, Kenya, Uganda, South Korea and Sweden were present.

The closing of the two-day forum organized by the ‘Zanzibar Kiswahili Council- Baraza la Kiswahili la Zanzibar (BAKIZA) was previously planned to be closed by President Hussein Mwinyi, but Othman officiated the event in his absence, putting emphasis to stakeholders in the country should do more to promote the language at this era of economic diplomacy.

“Let us not spare any means in endorsing use of Kiswahili which is gradually being recognized in different continents. Public books, pamphlets, brochures, media programmes, and teaching programmes for foreigners, and build relations just to make Kiswahili grow and used in many countries,” Othman said.

He also said it was time for Tanzanian embassies abroad introduced and promoted the language, and even initiate establishment of Kiswahili classes at their working stations along with encouraging more universities abroad to teach the language.

The 1stVP also challenged academicians and experts in the language to do more and conduct research to come-up with solutions on the best ways to develop and promote the language.

On his part, the Minister for Information, Youth, Culture and Sports Ms Tabia Maulid Mwita also called on stakeholders within and outside the country to promote Kiswahili language and culture so as to have more users globally for social and economic gains.

She explained to the attendees that Kiswahili lovers and particularly Tanzanians have to double their efforts in promoting Swahili and that there are still many untapped opportunities in Kiswahili as regards to economic and social development.

The Minister said she was also impressed by this year’s theme which could be translated as `Kiswahili is more than just a language, let us use it to promote diplomacy.’

She thanked visitors from abroad who attended the forum organized by the Zanzibar Kiswahili Council- Baraza la Kiswahili la Zanzibar (BAKIZA).

“Let us regard Kiswahili as a commodity which needs serious advertisement and promotion at this competitive era, were people/nations are striving to promote and language and culture, because having many people using your language, it is an advantage,” explained Tabia.

Primary schools’ pupils from Uroa and Jangombe showcased the richness of the Kiswahili language and culture by reciting poem and kunguwiya traditional dance, which colored the forum which also included launch of BAKIZA Magazine, and a report.

Dr Mwanahija Ali Juma said that with more than over 200 million speakers, it is one of the most widely used African languages, and gained international fame after the UN declared 7th July of every year as the World Kiswahili Language Day.

Kiswahili, a Bantu language with Arabic influences, is the first African language to be recognized in such a manner by the United Nations (UN). The language dates from the contacts of Arabian traders with the inhabitants of the east coast of Africa over many centuries.

Kiswahili language is now one of the official languages of the African Union (AU), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and East African Community (EAC). The mission of the annual celebration is to promote the use of Kiswahili language as a beacon for unity, peace and enhanced multiculturalism.

Southern African countries such as South Africa and Botswana have introduced it in schools, while Namibia and others are considering doing so. More than 100 universities, colleges and schools in the US, Asia and Europe offer Swahili as a course.

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