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Kiswahili as a National and International Language

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Lugha' started by babalao, Nov 23, 2007.

  1. babalao

    babalao Forum Spammer

    Nov 23, 2007
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    Nimepata habari hii kutoka kwenye mtandao wa kiswahili jamani someni habari hii imetulia pia naomba maoni yenu.

    Kiswahili as a National and International Language
    By M.M. Mulokozi
    Institute of Kiswahili Research,
    University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania


    Kiswahili is officially one of the four national languages of the
    Democratic Republic of the
    Congo – DRC (former Zaire), and the national language of Kenya,
    Tanzania and Uganda. In this
    paper we shall, however, limit our discussion to the status and
    situation of Kiswahili as a national
    language in Tanzania. The situation of Kiswahili in the DRC, Kenya
    and Uganda, and beyond,
    will be highlighted when we discuss the issue of Kiswahili as an
    international language in the
    second part of this presentation.
    The story of the rise of Kiswahili as a national language in Tanzania
    is well-known and
    we shall not repeat it here (cf. Whiteley 1969; Chiraghdin and
    Mnyampala 1977; Khamisi 1974;
    Mbaabu 1991; Heine 1990; Legere 1990). Suffice it to say that the
    rise and spread of Kiswahili
    from a community language to a lingua franca, and finally a national
    language, was largely
    demand driven in the socio-economic sense. This development was
    assisted by many factors,
    among them the following:
    (a) The maritime trade;
    (b) The caravan trade into the interior and the accompanying
    commercial empire building,
    especially in the Congo;
    (c) The rise of Zanzibar as East Africa's commercial capital;
    (d) The Bantu cultural complex, with its close affinity to the
    Swahili complex, and its cultural
    and political tolerance;
    (e) The relative cultural and linguistic homogeneity of the Swahili
    (f) The factor of Islam.
    Most of the above factors, plus:
    (g) German colonial language policy, which made Kiswahili the
    language of the lower levels of
    administration, education and the military;
    (h) Christian missionary activity, including alphabetization, book
    printing and publishing;
    (i) The mass media, especially introduction of Kiswahili newspapers,
    magazines and
    periodicals, and, after 1950, the radio and television;
    (j) Cultural activities, especially pop culture, such as music, games
    and sports, ceremonies,
    rituals, dances, dramas and movies;
    (k) Economic and social changes, including urbanization, migrant wage
    labour (notably
    plantation economy), and the accompanying trade unionism, new
    infrastructures, especially
    the railways and roads;
    (l) Nationalist politics (the Maji Maji war, the workers movement
    from the 1930, the peasants
    movements; the struggle for independence from 1940s onwards);
    (m) The school system.
    In this paper, we shall focus on the post independence period, that
    is from about 1960 to the
    present, with emphasis on the last decade, i.e. 1990-2000. We shall
    look briefly at the process of
    development and consolidation of Kiswahili as a national language in
    Tanzania, the factors that
    favored its adoption or acceptance, and the obstacles that have to be
    overcome. For our present
    purpose, we would define a national language as a language that is
    widely spoken, understood
    and accepted by a given national community as constituting their
    common heritage, serving as
    their collective cultural and political symbol and identity, and
    expressing their common ideals
    and aspiration.
    On the "international" level, we shall review the spread and
    consolidation of Kiswahili as
    a sub-regional language in Eastern and Central Africa, its potential
    as a pan-African language,
    and its spread and status as a world language in the age of
    globalization and the cyberspace.
    Kiswahili as a national language in Tanzania
    Tanzania comprises former Tanganyika and Zanzibar, which united in
    1964 to form the United
    Republic of Tanzania. The country has a population of about 33
    million. About 120 different
    languages are spoken. Kiswahili has been the language of Zanzibar and
    the Tanzanian coast for
    centuries. It spread upcountry in the 18th and 19 centuries, thanks
    to the factors mentioned above.
    Hence, at Tanganyika's independence in 1961, most people in
    Tanganyika already spoke or
    understood Kiswahili. Naturally, soon after independence, in 1962,
    Julius Nyerere, the first
    president, declared Kiswahili the national language, and made a
    dramatic departure from colonial
    practice by address the parliament in Kiswahili.
    Nyerere realized that simply declaring Kiswahili the national
    language was not enough;
    policies, structures and programs for its development and
    dissemination had to be put in place.
    This was largely accomplished by 1970. Policies that directly or
    indirectly impinged on the
    fortunes of Kiswahili included the following:
    (a) Adoption of Kiswahili as the national language: 1962
    (b) Adoption of the policy of Ujamaa and self-reliance: 1967
    This included creation of factories, state farms and Ujamaa villages
    which brought together
    people from different linguistic backgrounds, hence enhancing the use
    of Kiswahili;
    (c) Adoption of Kiswahili as the official language of government: 1967
    (d) Adoption of the policy of Education for Self-reliance: 1968
    This included adoption of Kiswahili as the sole language of
    instruction in primary schools;
    This entailed translating most of the existing government documents,
    forms, labels,
    designations, etc. into Kiswahili. It also meant that the Advanced
    Kiswahili Examination
    was now compulsory for all senior civil servants who did not have the
    requisite Kiswahili
    language qualifications;
    (e) Abandonment of the Cambridge School Certificate Examinations :
    1970 (?)
    Henceforth a student had to pass Kiswahili in order to get a
    certificate (prior to that, one
    had to pass English),
    (e) Adoption of the Cultural Policy (Sera ya Utamaduni): 1997
    The following governmental structures that were put in place to
    implement the new policy on
    (a) Creation of the Ministry of Culture: 1962
    (b) Creation of the IKR: 1964
    (c Creation of Tanzania Publishing House 1966
    (d) Creation of the national Kiswahili Council BAKITA: 1967
    (e) Creation of the Department of Kiswahili at UDSM: 1970
    (g) Establishment of EACROTANAL: 1976
    (f) Establishing of Institute of Kiswahili and Foreign
    Languages, Zanzibar – TAKILUKI: 1978
    (g) Establishment of the Zanzibar Kiswahili Council (BAKIZA)1986
    (h) Creation of Mfuko wa Utamaduni Tanzania
    (Tanzania Culture Fund): 1998
    This is in addition to pre-existing structures/institut ions, such as
    Radio Tanzania, Sauti ya
    Zanzibar, Newspapers, publishing houses such as EALB, and NGOs (such
    as The Poet's
    Organization, UKUTA, established around 1958). The impressive list of
    institutions does indicate
    that the government of the day was committed to the promotion of the
    national language, since
    many of these were government-funded. Yet, there was a catch that was
    to have serious
    consequences later, as we shall show. That catch concerned the
    language of education.
    By 1970, Kiswahili was already by and large accepted as the national
    language by
    practically all Tanzanians. Most national activities in Tanzania,
    including most government
    business, parliamentary debates, primary courts, primary education,
    etc. were being conducted in
    Kiswahili. Only one area of contention remained, i.e. secondary and
    higher education.
    The Five Year Development Plan of 1969 noted this problem, and
    proposed to introduce
    a gradual change over of the medium from English to Kiswahili, so
    that by 1974, Kiswahili
    should have taken over as the sole medium of secondary education.
    Unfortunately, this did not
    happen. Meanwhile, a heated national debate regarding "English-versus-
    Kiswahili" in education
    raged on between 1965 and the early 1980s. The draft Makweta Report
    on Education (1982)
    proposed that Kiswahili should become the medium of secondary
    education from 1985. The final
    version approved by government and issued in 1982. But the government
    had a different opinion:
    it directed that English should remain the medium of secondary and
    higher education, apparently
    This unleashed the language debate anew. The government and pro-
    English elite defends
    its position in various fora, and is duly rebuffed by the pro-
    Kiswahili group. The debates take
    place mostly in the media, but also occasionally in journals, books,
    seminars, and parliamentary
    sessions. While the debaters may have changed, the arguments have
    not: The pro-English
    arguments are largely technical and international: They reject
    Kiswahili for now (if not for ever)
    because there are not enough scientific terms, not enough books, the
    cost would be prohibitive,
    we need an international language ; English is the doorway to science
    and technology; we have to
    communicate with other peoples. Some like Nyerere add that if we
    change the medium to
    Kiswahili English would die, since there would be no incentive to
    learn it. The pro-Kiswahili
    debaters emphasize the pedagogical aspects, that children learn
    better in a language that they
    know best; the general lack of English mastery among teachers and
    pupils; the failure of English
    to deliver "the goods" up to now; the alienating role of English in
    Tanzania; the danger of
    sacrificing knowledge to foreign language acquisition; the need to
    democratize education,
    national and cultural pride, etc.
    When Benjamin Mkapa became president in 1995, he cleverly evaded the
    question by directing that the debate should continue. And so it
    In 1997, the Ministry responsible for Culture issued the Cultural
    Policy document, which
    was duly endorsed by the parliament. The policy, for the first time,
    recognized the other
    indigenous languages (besides Kiswahili) as a major national
    heritage, and proposed that they
    should be studied, researched and documented, and that they should
    serve as a resource base for
    the national language (Sera ya Utamaduni, page 17-18). It also
    proposed that
    Mpango maalumu wa kuiwezesha elimu na mafunzo katika ngazi zote
    kutolewa katika lugha
    ya Kiswahili utaandaliwa na kutekelezwa.
    A special action plan to enable education and instruction at all
    levels to be given in
    Kiswahili shall be prepared and implemented (Translation: M.M.
    (Wizara ya Elimu na Utamaduni, Sera ya Utamaduni, p. 19).
    A meeting held at Arusha on 24-28 May 1999 to discuss and lay down
    strategies for
    implementation of the Cultural Policy proposed that a program of
    implementation of the proposed
    changeover of the medium should be prepared immediately so that
    Kiswahili can become the
    medium within five years, starting from Form I and moving up
    gradually. The National Kiswahili
    Council (BAKITA) was entrusted with the task of coordinating the
    drafting of the program,
    which task has now been completed. We are now eagerly awaiting the
    government's reaction.
    What is certain is that the initiative for change in the sixties and
    early seventies came
    from above, and was thus given political sanction and the needed
    resources. That is why it
    succeeded. Today, the pressure for change is coming from below, and
    the government does not
    seem to be willing to move along with the democratizing forces. Hence
    the impasse.
    One possible reason for this obstinacy on the part of the government
    is the changed
    socio-economic and ideological reality. The so-called collapse of
    communism changed the
    political and economic landscape in Tanzania and Africa generally.
    Tanzania, like other small,
    formerly one party, states, was forced to "liberalize. " The
    liberalization ushered in so called
    "pluralism" which really meant multi-partism politically, and "free
    enterprise" economically.
    With the government divesting from economic management, foreign
    capitalists, mostly from
    South Africa, Europe and the Far East, rushed in to fill the vacuum.
    This has increased control of
    the economy by foreigners and their local, mostly non-patriotic
    collaborators. These in turn have
    acquired a stake in, or are in a position to pressurize, the
    government. As a result, formerly
    patriotic or people-oriented agendas have been abandoned.
    This, coupled with the current atmosphere of globalization and Anglo-
    hegemony over the world, has ensured that the national culture,
    including language, is sidelined
    in favour of foreign, mostly Anglo-American, culture and language.
    This phenomenon is also reflected in a new disturbing development on
    the education
    scene - the rise of the English medium primary schools,
    dubbed "Academies" by their proprietors.
    Partly perhaps in reaction to the pathetic state of government
    schools, and partly as an expression
    of rejection of Kiswahili and fascination with English as the
    language of the new elite, parents
    who are able and willing are herding their mesmerized little kids
    into these schools, where they
    are taught to sing English lullabies, play English games, worship
    English gods, recite English
    snow-and-daffodils rhymes, etc. So far these schools are doing good
    business financially if not
    pedagogically. That their hybrid products might eventually fit into
    neither Tanzanian nor English
    society is a matter for the future, and does not seem to worry the
    parents at present (on Kiswahili,
    globalization and the future see: Mdee, J.S and Mwansoko, H.J.M
    (eds): Kongamano la
    Kimataifa: Kiswahili 2000: Preceedings. TUKI, 2001; Kihore, Y &
    Chuwa, A.R Kiswahili katika
    Karne ya Ishirini na Moja. TUKI (no date)
    The main obstacle in the way of the flowering of Kiswahili as a
    national language in Tanzania is
    the absence of a viable, robust national economic base that can
    engender a proactive bourgeoisie
    and a strong working class, and hence foster patriotic policies. This
    situation has led to: (a) The
    current economic, outward-looking liberalism that has inevitably
    fostered outward-looking
    cultural and linguistic policies; (b) The rise of a compradorial, non-
    patriotic, Anglophile
    bourgeoisie that is bent on enriching itself at the expense of the
    national interests; (c) The erosion
    of self-confidence among Tanzanians, especially the youth and the
    elite, reading to a resurgence
    of a slavish, aping mentality and practice, known in Kiswahili as
    kasumba, which had been more
    or less successfully combated in the 1960s.
    These factors have encouraged admiration and worship of foreign
    things, including the
    huge Japanese cars known as shangingis, and foreign cultural
    manifestations, including music,
    cinema and videos, dress, technology and languages. Concomitantly,
    they have led to rejection, or
    being ashamed, of ones African traits and practices, including skin
    colour and hair, beliefs,
    religion, languages, names, music, etc.
    The reaction of the common people, who are the victims of these
    developments, has been
    mixed. Some have resorted to strikes, street riots and anarchist
    actions; some, out of frustration,
    have taken the spiritual route and joined the mushrooming born-again
    churches, many of them
    linked to American churches; and some have rejected the Western
    values altogether and opted for
    Eastern ones (the Muslim youth) or traditional African ones (cf. the
    resurgence of traditional
    religion and rituals, e.g. MIDEA in Kilosa).
    The other obstacle in the way of Kiswahili is a legal one: Kiswahili
    became the national
    language through popular proclamation and practice, but not legally.
    There is no law passed by
    parliament declaring Kiswahili the national language. The
    Constitution of Tanzania of 1977,
    which was written in Kiswahili, does not even mention Kiswahili as
    the national language.
    The final obstacle is competition from English, which also vies for a
    national status in
    Tanzania, and has ample material support from Britain and America,
    and significant moral
    support from within Tanzania. The final show-down between the two
    languages is yet to be
    Factors favouring Kiswahili
    The same factors that favoured the spread of Kiswahili in the past
    two centuries are still at work
    today. The demand for Kiswahili is still there, not only in Tanzania,
    but also in the neighbouring
    countries. The phenomenal urbanization now taking place means that
    Kiswahili is becoming the
    mother tongue of millions of Tanzanian town-dwellers who speak no
    other language; the failure
    of efforts to promote English means that even "educated" Tanzanians
    are more comfortable
    speaking Kiswahili than English (thus students at the University of
    Dar es salaam currently
    conduct their social and political activities in Kiswahili, not in
    English as was previously the
    case).1 The liberalization has brought about unprecedented increase
    in Kiswahili-language private
    newspapers, television and radio stations.
    On the political level, multipartyism has even made the need for
    Kiswahili more evident
    – whoever wants to rule Tanzanians has to be able to campaign
    successfully in Kiswahili so as to
    get votes. Parliamentary debates are still conducted in Kiswahili, so
    are most public functions.
    On the social level, the increasing mobility, intermarriages and
    interactions are blurring
    the ethnic differences, kneading all Tanzanians into a more or less
    homogeneous nation. Popular
    culture (such as music, fiction, drama, festivals, etc) is also
    entrenching Kiswahili more and more
    into the social fabric.
    Problem areas for the future
    Three problem areas remain to be addressed in future. The first area
    is secondary and higher
    education. Teaching at these levels is still formerly conducted in
    broken English, though in
    practice most teachers in secondary schools resort to Kiswahili to
    make themselves
    understandable. The other area pertains to the law courts (district
    and high courts), which still use
    English to record judgements, although the sessions are usually
    bilingual. The final problem area
    is science ( including social sciences) and technology. Swahilists
    will have to work hard with
    professionals in different fields to develop an adequate corpus of
    terminology in all fields, and to
    write or translate books and papers from those fields into Kiswahili.
    On the international level, Kiswahili has scored more marks than was
    thought possible twenty
    years ago. Kiswahili is now spoken or understood by about 80-100
    million people in the
    following countries:
    - D.R. Congo: 15,000,000
    - Burundi: 2,000,000
    - Kenya: 20,000,000
    - Rwanda: 2,000,000
    - Tanzania: 32,000,000
    - Uganda: 8,000,000
    - Others:2 1,000,000
    TOTAL 80,000,000
    The following four anecdotes may serve to illustrate the demand for
    Kiswahili as an international
    language within Africa and beyond.
    Anecdote 1
    This first anecdote was narrated to me by a Malawian politician of
    the Indepedence struggle,
    Kanyama Chiume when we met at the UDSM on 21 September, 2001. He said
    that in May 1959,
    a meeting of all leaders of freedom movements was convened by Sekou
    Toure in Conakry,
    Guinea. The leaders who attended the conference came from
    both "French speaking" and
    "English speaking" countries. Among the participants were Chiume
    himself and Patrice
    Lumumba of Congo. The delegates duly assembled in the conference
    room, but for the first two
    hours nothing happened because the delegates had no common language
    in which to
    communicate. It was Kanyama Chiume who saved the day. He proposed
    that since the
    Francophone comrades could not communicate with their Anglophone
    counterparts, why not use
    an African language to bridge the gap? Then he went on to propose
    Kiswahili as that language.
    Lumumba came from Eastern Congo and could speak Kiswahili and French.
    Chiume came from
    Nyasaland (now Malawi) and could speak Kiswahili and English. It was
    therefore proposed that
    the Francophone delegates would speak in French, Lumumba would
    translate their speeches into
    Kiswahili for Chiume, and Chiume would translate them into English
    for the benefit of the
    Anglophone delegates. Likewise, the Anglophone speeches would be
    translated into Kiswahili by
    Chiume so that Lumumba can in turn translate them into French. Thus
    the meeting went on
    successfully. 3
    Anecdote 2
    In 1965, the Cuban revolutionary, Che Guevara, went to Eastern Congo
    to try and organized a
    guerilla war in collaboration with Laurent Kabila and others, against
    imperialism. He and his
    Cuban comrades soon discovered that in order to operate in the Congo
    bush they needed to learn
    Kiswahili, which was the main language of the struggle. Thus the
    Cubans had to adopt Kiswahili
    noms de guerra, such as Moja, Mbili, Tatu, Nne, Tano…Kumi, Ishirini,
    Arobaini, Sitini, Agano,
    Baraka, Bendera, Tembo, etc. Che himself was known as Tatu. (Cf.
    Ernesto Che Guevara 2000:
    Anecdote 3
    In 1988, I had an opportunity to visit Zimbabwe for the first time.
    While strolling in the city, I
    and was surprised to come across a pub labeled "Nyama Choma." Later,
    I went into a shop to buy
    some item, and as soon as I spoke, the shop attendant, a young man in
    his thirties, asked me in
    Kiswahili: "Wewe unatoka Tanzania?" "Ndiyo, umejuaje?" I answered
    back. He explained that
    he could tell from my English accent. Henceforth we switched to
    Kiswahili, and he explained to
    me that he was a former freedom fighter, and was trained at
    Nachingwea in Tanzania; that's how
    he came to learn Kiswahili. [I had a similar experience in Addis
    Ababa, Ethiopia, in 2000, where
    a female shop attendant and a manager of the hotel in which I was
    staying spoke to me in perfect
    Kiswahili; they had both lived or studied in Kenya for a while].
    Anecdote 4
    In 1986, I was in Britain on a short fellowship. I went to Glasgow in
    Scotland one weekend to
    visit a Tanzanian friend who was studying there. In the evening we
    went to a pub for a drink.
    There were a number of local customers, mostly old or aging men. We
    sat in one corner and
    talked animatedly in Kiswahili as we drank our beer. Then, after
    about thirty minutes, an old man
    who had been sitting alone in another corner came over to our table
    and said in perfect Kiswahili:
    "Hamjambo mabwana? Nimekuwa nikiwasikiliza kwa muda wote. Nadhani
    mnatoka Tanzania.
    Habari za Tanzania?" He then offered to buy us a drink, and conversed
    with us in Kiswahili for a
    while; he told us that he had been a British government official in
    Kenya before Independence.
    These five anecdotes ( and one could give a lot more) contain one
    message: That
    Kiswahili is indeed a widely spoken international language that can
    crop up in the most
    unexpected corners. Its recent development in this respect has indeed
    been spectacular.
    In Kenya, Kiswahili has been gaining in strength since the mid-
    eighties, thanks to a
    deliberate push by government. It was made a compulsory subject in
    all secondary schools; the
    products of the schools are the new young Kenyan adults whose command
    of the standard
    language is discernibly better than that of their parents'
    generation. The expansion of University
    education in the eighties and nineties has also produced many
    Kiswahili scholars and teachers,
    probably not less than 2000 graduates a year. As a result, Kenyan
    schools now have a cadre of
    well-trained Kiswahili teachers whose products will also hopefully be
    good Kiswahili speakers.
    The Kenyan Kiswahili print media (newspapers) has not expanded, but
    the book
    publishing media has expanded considerably. Kenya is currently
    producing more Kiswahili
    general and text books than Tanzania, and its publishing and
    distribution network is still intact,
    unlike in Tanzania where publishing has largely collapsed. The
    broadcasting media (radio and
    TV) is also doing quite well though its expansion lags behind that
    observable in Tanzania.
    Kiswahili programs dominate the main radio and television channels,
    and Kenyan Kiswahili
    soaps and to dramas, such as Tausi, are extremely popular in
    Tanzania. This has somewhat
    popularized Kenyan Kiswahili in Tanzania, so that some Tanzanian TV
    dramas are now
    employing it to humourous effect.
    Yet Kenya still has more work to do so as to introduce Kiswahili in
    all spheres of public
    life, including parliament, government operations and education. At
    present, Kiswahili is mainly
    used at political rallies, and in commerce, culture (e.g. music and
    drama), religion and sports.
    Mugambi (1999: 117) complains that in Kenya Kiswahili is more of an
    academic and political
    language, but is yet to serve an integrative function. The Finish
    example shows that such a
    function can also be performed by literature, such as a national folk
    epic like Kalevala (Mulokozi
    In Uganda, the use of Kiswahili has also expanded gradually, in spite
    of resistance from
    hard-core Baganda traditionalist. More Ugandans are now interested in
    learning Kiswahili, and
    the government has, from next year, made Kiswahili a compulsory
    subject in primary schools. If
    this policy survives after Museveni, it may in future produce a new
    generation of Kiswahili
    speaking Ugandans (including Bugandans) who will probably not be so
    hostile to the language.
    The recent revival of the East African Community has brought East
    African nations and
    peoples even closer together, and Kiswahili is obviously stepping in
    to fill a possible linguistic
    vacuum in the arrangement as the only viable potential language for
    the Community.3
    In Rwanda and Burundi the unfortunate genocide of the early nineties,
    and the
    subsequent upheavals have paradoxically increased the knowledge and
    use of Kiswahili in those
    countries. This is partly because of the millions of refugees who
    fled to neighbouring countries,,
    acquired Kiswahili in the process (since the language is widely used
    in the refugee camps), and
    are now coming back armed with the language. Moreover, the new regime
    in Rwanda and its
    army is made up largely of former refugees, people who grew up in
    Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya
    and the Congo, and are therefore fluent Kiswahili speakers. They are
    thus more disposed towards
    promotion of Kiswahili in Rwanda.
    The same case applies to the DRC. There, the new Kabila regime is
    Eastern and hence Kiswahili speaking, not to mention the fact that
    the young Kabila himself grew
    up in Tanzania.
    Briefly, we can say that within Eastern and Central Africa, Kiswahili
    is now in a better
    position than ever before, and its demand is on the increase. The
    peoples of this area have
    realized that they need this language to be able to survive,
    cooperate and operate effectively in the
    Kiswahili is taught as a language in more than 100 (my estimate)
    universities and higher
    education institutions in worldwide. This estimate does not include
    the many African-American
    black schools in the U.S.A that teach Kiswahili as a second language
    to black students. Most of
    the universities teaching Kiswahili are in the U.S.A, but there are
    also famous schools of
    Kiswahili in U.K. (SOAS), Germany (sevaral universities) , Russia (St
    Petersburg and Moscow
    State University), France, Belgium (Gent and Antwerp), Italy
    (Naples), Switzerland, Austria,
    Netherlands, Poland, Norway, Sweden and Finland, China, Japan, Oman
    and Mexico. Within
    Africa, Kiswahili is taught in more than 10 universities in Tanzania,
    Kenya, Uganda, DRC,
    Madagascar, Ghana, Sudan, Nigeria and Libya. Though it is not
    possible at this point to give an
    estimate of the number of students, it is safe to assume that
    Kiswahili is the most widely taught
    African language in the world.
    The media and publishing
    Kiswahili is used in more than 100 radio and TV broadcasting stations
    worldwide. About ten of
    these are in Tanzania and Kenya. Other African countries that
    broadcast in Kiswahili include
    DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, Egypt, Iran, Sudan, Uganda, South Africa. Many
    Asian and European
    countries also broadcast in Kiswahili. In America, apart from the
    Voice of America, there are
    many black FM radio stations that have Kiswahili programs. The
    Swahili services of the BBC,
    Deutsche Welle and Voice of America appear to have the widest reach.
    In book publishing, Kiswahili has been the favourite target language
    of translations from
    different world literatures. In the nineteenth and early twentieth
    centuries, numerous books from
    English, French and Arabic were translated into Kiswahili. At the
    height of communism, many
    books from China, North Korea and the Soviet Union were also made
    available in Kiswahili. In
    this sense, one can say that Kiswahili gained from the cold war. With
    the collapse of communism,
    books from China, Korea, and Russia are no longer being as widely
    translated into Kiswahili.
    However, more classics from all over the world are still being
    translated. Recent ones include
    Gogol's The Government Inspector and Elias Lönnrot's Kalevala, not to
    mention books by
    African luminaries such as Achebe, Soyinka, Ngugi, Mongo Beti and
    Ousmane Sembene.
    In the early 1980s, UNESCO decided that the 8-volume General History
    of Africa should
    be translated into at least 3 African languages (apart from Arabic)
    for a start: Hausa, Fulfulde and
    Kiswahili. The Kiswahili translation is now ready and all the eight
    volumes have been published.
    They form a monumental contribution to the Kiswahili scholarly
    repertoire, and a landmark in the
    history of Kiswahili translation.
    The Pan-African movement arose among the black people of the Diaspora
    in the nineteenth
    century, and reached its peak between 1910-1950. Freedom fighters
    such as Jomo Kenyatta and
    Kwame Nkrumah were products of that movement, so was the Organization
    of African Unity
    (established in 1963). From the beginning, pan-Africanism had a
    cultural and political agenda
    (return to Africa, defense of African values and heritage, equal
    rights for Africans, unity of all
    Africans, freedom of African countries from the colonial yoke, etc).
    However, the movement
    rarely emphasized the revival or promotion of African languages. It
    was only in the sixties that
    some African scholars began calling for a pan-African language. The
    first call was made by Wole
    Soyinka of Nigeria in the mid-1960s. He proposed that Kiswahili
    should be declared the
    continental language of Africa (cf. Mulokozi 2000).
    In 1985, this call was taken up by the Ghanaian writer, Ayi Kwei
    Armah, who wrote:
    There is one African language admirably suited to function as our
    common ancillary
    language. That is Kiswahili. It enjoys structural and lexical
    affinities with a lot of African
    languages over large areas of the continent: East, South, Central and
    even the lower West.
    Flexible and highly absorptive, it can take inputs from practically
    every African language in
    its future development. .. The technical problems likely to arise are
    soluble. It may be
    desirable, for instance, to simplify the syntax or at least to
    streamline it. In addition, the
    existing vocabulary would have to be constantly enriched, as in every
    living language. This
    could best be done in a conscious, systematic way, by drawing from
    the vast lexical
    storehouse constituted by the continent's languages, especially those
    of the West and the
    South. That might facilitate final acceptance as our common language,
    since each region
    would recognize its genius in the common pool..." (p. 832).
    African governments heeded this call by admitting Kiswahili into the
    OAU; otherwise, not much
    else has been done todate.4
    Conclusion: Towards the future - Kiswahili, globalization and ICT
    Everybody is now talking about globalization and information and
    communication technology
    (ICT) and we too are expected to do the same. But before we do that,
    let us recap what we have
    said up to this point. We have argued in this paper that the
    development and expansion of
    Kiswahili as a national and international language has usually been
    dictated by demand, both
    economic and social. So long as such a demand exists, Kiswahili will
    continue to develop and
    expand. In this process, Kiswahili will face obstacles from both
    within and without. From within,
    the triumph of Kiswahili may arouse narrow nationalism among certain
    groups or nations, and
    these could be manipulated by unscrupulous politicians to hamper the
    adoption of Kiswahili as a
    national or pan-African language in some of the countries. Within the
    Swahili communities also,
    there might arise similar chauvinistic sentiments seeking to
    reconfine Kiswahili to its "original"
    coastal Islamic shell. Such sentiments are already in evidence, but
    being ahistorical, will probably
    not have much impact. However, if they were to suceed, they could
    trigger a negative reaction
    from the millions of those who are abandoning their languages in
    favour of Kiswahili.
    A more serious obstacle is the threat from foreign languages,
    especially Arabic, English
    and French. It might be much harder for Kiswahili to win this fight,
    in the short term, mainly
    because our ruling elite cliques are mesmerized by things foreign.
    The current
    English/French/ Portuguese speaking elite that has ruled and ruined
    Africa is unlikely or perhaps
    unable to abandon its Europhilia. A new generation with less kasumba
    will have to take over first.
    Certainly the French, Britons, and Portuguese will do everything in
    their power to ensure that
    their languages remain dominant, for language for them is a
    political, economic and strategic
    question. Arabic is less of a threat on the national and sub-regional
    level, but it can be on the
    pan-African level.
    As far as globalization is concerned, Africa is currently on the
    receiving end: we are
    simply being globalized, just as we have been for the past 500 years.
    Yet there are areas in which
    we too can globalize the world if we are serious enough, areas in
    which Africa excels, such as
    certain cultural and scientific manifestations, and African
    languages, in this case Kiswahili. Since
    globalization in the modern sense is impossible without ICT,
    Kiswahili speakers, promoters and
    lovers need to be proactive in this area by:
    - Developing the language actively and quickly in the areas of
    science and technology;
    - Developing new teaching and research programs that take into
    account the current
    global trends and needs, especially in the area of ICT;
    - Developing new up-to-date teaching and reference materials,
    including online and
    electronic instruction materials;
    - Developing Kiswahili-based computer programs, software, and copora;
    already there
    are some Kiswahili-speaking computer programs that can serve as
    examples (e.g. the
    Google Kiswahili language search engine; programs reportedly
    developed at the
    University of Helsinki (Hurskainen 1995; Sewangi 2001), and the
    electronic CDRom
    version of IKRs bilingual dictionaries issued in March 2002);
    - Translating all relevant up-to-date information in various fields
    available in foreign
    languages into Kiswahili;
    - Above all, we need human resources grounded in ICT and Kiswahili
    studies; we need
    to train and train and train more and more and more young people.
    That is the best
    way to ensure sustainability.
    In order to suceed in this endeavour, Kiswahili developers, promoters
    and teaching
    centers in all parts of the world need to work together and cooperate
    and coordinate their
    activities more and more so as to learn from one another, share
    resources, and reduce costs. Such
    cooperation can be through joint projects, fellowships, scholarships,
    external examining,
    conferences and electronic interaction.
    ____________ _________ ____
    1. When I served as an oral English examiner during the
    matriculations exams at the UDSM in 2000, more
    than 50 per cent of the students who appeared for the oral interviews
    could not formulate correct English
    sentences. They therefore resorted to short one word or single-phrase
    answers even for questions that
    needed explanations or brief narratives. Moreover, many supervisors
    of masters and doctoral dissertations
    complain about the poor mastery of English shown by their students.
    2.Others include speakers residing in countries such as:
    Somali/Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe,
    Comoro, South Africa, Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, India, UK, USA,
    3. I am grateful to Mzee Kanyama Chiume for checking and correcting
    this anecdote through electronic
    4. The Nation Group in Kenya introduced an English language East
    African weekly, the East African, in
    the mid-nineties. It seems to be doing well. The IPP Media Group in
    Tanzania is currently in the process of
    introducing a Kiswahili East African magazine to be known as Afrika
    ya Mashariki.
    5. Kiswahili has been used in the UNESCO General Meeting in Paris. In
    sub-regional organizations such as
    SADC, it has not been used. The reason given recently by the
    Tanzanian foreign minister is that the venture
    would be expensive. And in a just-ended Conference of leaders and
    specialists from the Great Lakes
    Region (April 2002) held in honour of the late Mwalimu J.K. Nyerere,
    the participants reportedly called for
    promotion of Kiswahili as the language of the Great Lakes Region,
    creation of a sub-regional organ to
    coordinate its development, and encouragement of its use as a medium
    of education (reported in Mtanzania
    April 11, 2002: 2)
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