Tanzania: Samia Touts Kiswahili’s Global Popularity

AS Tanzania joined other countries to mark the first World Kiswahili Language Day on Thursday, President Samia Suluhu Hassan has outlined a number of strategies by the government of Tanzania aimed at spreading the lingua franca globally.

The first ever celebration of the World Kiswahili Language Day was held under the theme; ‘Kiswahili for peace and prosperity’.

The mission of the annual celebration is to promote the use of Kiswahili language as a beacon for unity, peace, and enhanced multi-culturalism.

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.

“Foreign missions should ensure these centres are established to teach Kiswahili to foreigners by Tanzanian teachers who have graduated from our institutions of learning,”

Ms Samia said in the recorded clip.

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.

“The national strategy will focus on empowering the institutions charged with teaching of Kiswahili to build capacity and train more teachers for Kiswahili language worldwide,” she emphasized.

The capacity building will empower Tanzania teachers with additional skills on translation, editing, broadcasting, interpretation as well as writing and teaching of the Kiswahili language.

The Head of State pointed to the fact that Tanzania forms a foundation for Kiswahili and it has played a crucial role in development and spreading of the language both at regional and global levels.

President Samia was glad that a number of countries and institutions of higher institutions across the globe commemorated the World Kiswahili Language on Thursday.

“It is my hope that Tanzania’s foreign embassies and other countries in the world will continue cherishing Kiswahili by commemorating the day on July 7 each year,” she observed.

Ms Samia also took the opportunity to congratulate the former President of Mozambique, Mr Joaquim Chissano, and other former and present leaders across the continent for championing the use and spread of Kiswahili in Africa.

Mr Chissano, who served as President of Mozambique between the year 1986 and 2005, was the first leader to address the African Union (AU)’s Heads of State and Government in Kiswahili during his speech to hand over the chairmanship of the continental body in July 2014.

President Samia recalled that the declaration to start using Kiswahili language as one of the official languages of the AU started way back on July 9, 2002 in Durban, South Africa, noting that the declaration sowed the seed for spreading the lingua franca.

Ms Samia expressed gratitude to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) for declaring July 7 each year, as theWorld Kiswahili Language Day.

“The declaration by UNESCO has shown respect and honour for the Kiswahili language globally,” the president noted.

With over 200 million speakers, Kiswahili language is one of the most widely used African languages, encompassing more than a dozen main dialects.

Over the centuries it has emerged as a common form of communication in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, in addition to the Middle East.

The AU Heads of State and Government have already adopted the use of the language as one of the bloc’s official working languages following a request from Tanzania.

Kiswahili language is already in use in various communities including the East African Community (EAC), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as well as a teaching language in many countries across the world.

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