Rwanda: Lawmakers Approve Swahili As The Official Language



Rwanda lawmakers have approved Swahili as the official Language of the country. In other words, the east African country has dropped french completely whilst playing down on English language as well.

The language is currently spoken by 50% of the public in Rwanda and about 70% in Burundi.

The preservation of African mother tongues has become a necessity in our modern globalized world. From the internet to literary works and to the media, we can obviously find a reasonably higher degree of communication with foreign languages than the African native languages.

The essence of having a Lingua Franca is to have a generic medium of communication especially in regions with multiple-ethnicity. The Lingua Franca is expected to serve as a bridge to reach people of various languages.

The more globalized the world gets, the more chances there are for Africa to lose grip of it’s cultural identities.

See Also: African Schools Punish Children For speaking Vernacular

Waking up to this sudden realization that our mother tongues are perishing , the governments of some African countries are tirelessly working to give native languages their rightful places as long as culture and communication is concerned.

Last year alone, a good number of East African countries took practical steps that can help preserve native languages especially in schools.

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) passed a resolution in 2016 to make Kiswahili an official language of the East African Community alongside English.

The motion was presented by three legislators; Mr. Abdullah Mwinyi and Ms. ShyRose Bhanji from Tanzania, as well as Mr. Abubakar Zein from Kenya.

The Zimbabwean government also seeing the need to promote and preserve the mother tongue, authorized the instruction of primary school pupils in the indigenous language.

According to Zim’s minister for education, Dr Lazarus Dokora , the ministry added Swahili, French, Mandarin (Chinese) and Portuguese in the school curriculum.

Already, the much loved African language was initially proposed to be the official language of the continent. Swahili is the most widely spoken language in Africa with an estimated 60-150 million speakers.

See Also: 12 Most Widely Spoken African Languages

On a more recent note, Ghana translated their national anthem into 11 other local languages. Just like most African nations, Ghana is multi-lingual. Having the anthem in English language has helped create equality in the sense that no ethnic group’s language was chosen over the others.

Even better, the translation into these other languages gives not just equity but a sense of belonging.

With regards to foreign languages which serve as the official language most often, it is good that while we strive to promote our own, we consider it an added advantage to learn some of these international languages such as English and French as well.

Sharing the stand of Ngugi wa Thiong’o, the idea is not to condemn these globally recognized languages but to give top priority and relevance to our languages.

Our patriotism towards our indigenous languages paves the way for the possibility of having an internationally recognized African language, however cumbersome that may sound.

As a matter of fact, some nations have started pushing to make their languages globally recognized. Africa should not be exempted.

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