BY Moses Mapesa LAST year I made a case for teaching Swahili as a compulsory subject in our schools and indeed all institutions of learning to ensure that Ugandans effectively use it as a national language. I did point out that under the East African Community, the Treaty does provide for Swahili as an official language for East Africa and underscored its importance in trade beyond the East African region and its wide use in America, Europe and Asia particularly in the media. Recently, I read in the press that the Ministry of Education had dropped Swahili from the compulsory subjects. I also read a number of articles in support of teaching and use of Swahili which was a good encouragement. Many teachers, students and ordinary citizens came up in support of Swahili and in fact criticised the Ministry of Education for the decision. In its defence, the ministry argued that there are not enough qualified Swahili teachers. This is what should be addressed. While attending an East African Community meeting of experts in Moshi, Tanzania last week, it struck me and my Ugandan colleagues that it is very difficult to differentiate Tanzanians by tribe (or ethnic language) courtesy of Swahili. Tanzanians are Tanzanians, periodreal patriotism. Later we got a problem at the meeting when our colleagues from Burundi could not effectively communicate in English and the rest of us (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda) could not speak French! I later leant that at an earlier meeting in Kigali it was even worse. However, we could all at least understand Swahili and express ourselves reasonably. Note that most Ugandans have never formally attended Swahili lessons. This reminded me of two similar incidents. One in Paris when African states representatives wanted to consult privately and we needed English and French interpretation that had not been provided for. We tried out Swahili and it worked. The second was in Goma, DR Congo, when our respective ministers of Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo could not communicate in either French or English and we had no interpreter. Again we tried Swahili and I actually assumed the role of interpreter but in Swahili for my Uganda minister, who in any case understood over 60% of Swahili as opposed to less than 1% of French. Much earlier in Brazil at a Global Conference, African states consultations were a nightmare when we had Arabic, French and English speakers. Translation (interpretation) at international meetings is very expensive. In a number of our technical meetings with DR Congo and Rwanda we have had to resort to communicating in Swahili instead of struggling with either English or French, we have exchanged e-mails in Swahili. So now that we have the East African Community we must cooperate in promoting teaching and use of Swahili. Uganda could request the government of the United Republic of Tanzania to avail Swahili tutors and lecturers to all our teacher training institutions and other tertiary institutions in the departments of languages and within one year we would have many Swahili teachers for all our schools. Uganda can also request Tanzania for Swahili lecturers to help those at the National Leadership Institute, Kyankwanzi and we undertake a Swahili crush programme for all government officials as part of the Patriotism and Prosperity for All lessons. After all, in many parts of Uganda Swahili as a mobilisation language is widely used. And for the skeptics about Kyankwanzi, I want to assure you that indeed it is a Leadership Institute regardless of your political affiliations. I have been privileged to offer lectures at Kyankwazi and I have enjoyed every moment I have spent there, forget the negative propaganda from those who have even never stepped there. Lastly, while having a chat with a French speaker, I expressed my regret for failing to learn French, and his advice wasdo not get bothered after all you have hardly any opportunity to use it. Learning a language requires practice. Therefore for us to fully adopt Swahili we must practise and we must get people (tutors) to help us practise compulsorily but not find excuses to put it off indefinitely as the Ministry of Education seems to be doing. In the spirit of East African cooperation, Tanzania could even offer us tutors free of charge and we only meet their living expenses but we must put in our request in the first place. Once we speak a common language, patriotism and unity will be enhanced automatically, so we could use part of the Patriotism funds for this.