07 Jul Celebrating World Kiswahili Language Day
Kiswahili is now a widely spoken language in Africa. Predominantly spoken in the East African region, the language is quickly finding its way to the rest of Africa and has now earned its place of pride as one of the world’s top 10 most spoken languages and Africa’s most widely spoken language. It enjoys official national status in Kenya, Tanzania and now Uganda which recently adopted it as its second official national language and directed that it be made a compulsory subject in primary and secondary schools. Kiswahili is also widely spoken in parts of DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and Comoros.
In 2019, Swahili became the only African language to be recognized by the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Shortly after, it was introduced in classrooms across South Africa and Botswana. Most recently, Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa University announced it would start teaching Swahili. Some linguists predict that Swahili’s reach in Africa will continue to expand.
Kiswahili has become the first African language, spoken by more than 200 million people, to be honoured by UNESCO. On November 23, 2021, the United Nations designated July 7 as the World Kiswahili Language Day — the official day to celebrate the Swahili language. This made Swahili the first African language to be feted by the UN. It is also one of the official languages of the African Union.
Kiswahili for Peace and Posterity
The celebration of the World Kiswahili language day points to the role the Kiswahili language plays in promoting cultural diversity and creating awareness and fostering dialogue among civilizations. The need to promote multilingualism as a core value of nations in Africa is an essential factor in harmonious communication between peoples, which promotes unity in diversity and international understanding, tolerance and dialogue.
Kiswahili is a language that speaks to both the past and present and with over 200 million speakers, it is one of the most widely used African languages, encompassing more than a dozen main dialects. Over the centuries, this Bantu language has emerged as a common form of communication in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. The language is quickly becoming a unifying factor especially for African countries that have walked individually over the years. The yearning of many to see the united states of Africa could actually become a reality as Kiswahili continues to make its way into most of the African countries.
Africa has widely been known as a continent with a rich culture with warm and friendly people. It has for the longest time been divided by its various tribes and diverse dialects. Kiswahili is now here to unite the continent and to create a people proudly speaking one native language.