East African Legislative Assembly has moved a motion to formerly make Kiswahili an official language in all meetings, correspondences and discussions within the region.
“We have sent our resolutions to the Heads of State, urging the EAC Summit to amend the Treaty for the establishment of the community to provide for Kiswahili as one of the official languages of the community,” EALA legislator, Ms Shyrose Bhanji told the ‘Daily News’.
The resolution was moved by Mr Abubakar Zein from Kenya, asking the partner states to promote and allow the use of Kiswahili in official domains. Ms Bhanji and Mr Abdullah Mwinyi from Tanzania seconded the resolution which received wide acclaim.
EALA also asked the Council of Ministers to allocate adequate resources to EAC Kiswahili Commission to effectively carry out its mandate. The resolution appreciates that language is one of the most important aspects of human life by being a vessel of human philosophy, values, attitudes, identity and meaning of life.
It states that Kiswahili is fast spreading across the globe and that the African Union has adopted it one of its official languages.
Kiswahili, one of the official languages of the community is one way to deepen and widen the integration process. According to Mr Zein, embracing the Kiswahili language is also bound to increase the participation of the people of East Africa in the Affairs of the Community as well as promote African culture.
Kiswahili is flexible and has its root in the Bantu language which constitutes over 50 per cent of African population. Several legislators supported the resolution, terming it as timely. Mr Kessy Nderakindo said the use of Kiswahili would boost education and give confidence to students.
Mr Martin Ngoga said the widely spoken language brought people together, saying: “I really should have contributed to this debate in Kiswahili.” Mr Mwinyi noted that Kiswahili was an important language, saying Tanzania has embraced the cultural diversity, with Kiswahili as a uniting factor.
“The Assembly also needs to be practical to acknowledge that there are some partner states like Uganda with large population that does not speak Kiswahili and in the Treaty there is the provision for development as a lingua franca," Ms Bhanji said.
Dr Odette Nyiramilimo proposed the establishment of Kiswahili Learning Centre to train, staff, members and all stakeholders involved in the integration process to fully comprehend the language. Kiswahili is the Bantu language and the first language of the Swahili people.
- EALA legislator, Ms Shyrose Bhanji