THE Embassy of Tanzania in France, in partnership with the Association of the Tanzanian Diaspora Living in France, has introduced a programme to teach Kiswahili as a way of promoting the language overseas.
Besides promoting the language, other objectives include marketing Tanzania beyond the country’s borders as well as fostering cultural interaction.
Tanzanian Ambassador to France Samwel Shelukindo said this recently during a telephone interview with the ‘Daily News’.
“These are some of the efforts made by the Embassy to support President John Magufuli’s initiative in promoting Kiswahili language.
“When President Magufuli was the chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) he emphasised a need to further promote Kiswahili,” said Mr Shelukindo.
It was during his chairmanship in SADC when Kiswahili was declared one of the official languages of the regional body.
He explained that the programme was for government workers in France, who were interested in learning Kiswahili, adding that “classes will be in the evening and during weekends and each session will be running for two hours once per week.”
He further noted that the programme consisted of 10 courses, whereby students would have to complete 20 hours of class to finish the programme.
“The idea was engineered by the Tanzanian Diaspora themselves, and so far 50 students have enrolled in the programme ready to take up the course online,” he said.
Equally, seven Tanzanian experts have been prepared to teach the course in a manner that will make students grasp the language easily.
In line with the Kiswahili course, the Tanzania Cultural Centre offers lessons of cultural dances, among others.
According to the ambassador, this is not the only initiative in France to promote Kiswahili, as France’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has made it a mandatory requirement for parties or diplomats responsible for the Department of Africa to learn Kiswahili.
Likewise, the Kiswahili course is offered to 240 students in one of the biggest universities in France – the National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilisations (Inalco).
“This demonstrates how Kiswahili has continued growing across Africa and beyond over the past few years,” noted the ambassador.
Last year, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) acknowledged Kiswahili as a continental language destined to facilitate African integration at an event to mark the 22nd Edition of the International Mother Language Day Celebration in Paris, France.
The language has already been accepted as official language in SADC, the African Union (AU) and the East African Community (EAC).
Kiswahili is also among the working languages of the East African Parliament, one of the important decision-making organs of the EAC, whose members are Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.
Mr Shelukindo also said plans were underway to make Kiswahili one of Unesco’s official language.