30 August 2016
The East African Legislative Assembly has approved plans to make Kiswahili its second official language.
The need for an indigenous official language became necessary following the usual protests from non-English speaking East African Countries like Burundi.
The Legislative Assembly noted that Kiswahili was also selected due to the big role it played in uniting the people of East Africa from pre-independence days.
It noted further that even the colonial administrators as well as missionaries and the business community did not lose sight of the fact that Kiswahili is central to the region.
While the Assembly resolved that the legislative sessions should be conducted in Kiswahili, one of the legislators also stressed that a spirited agitation for Kiswahili should not play down the role of English, the current official language of East African Countries.
Kiswahili (or Swahili) is spoken by an estimated 80 million people in East and Central Africa.
It is the official language in Tanzania and Kenya, and is also used in Uganda, Somalia, Mozambique, Malawi, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, and Congo (formerly Zaire).
While the language is deeply entrenched and widely used in everyday lives in Tanzania and Kenya, such cannot be said about the other East African countries. In other East African countries, it is only used sparingly by some communities.
The language is currently spoken by 50 per cent to 70 per cent of the general public in Rwanda and Burundi respectively.
In a typical African region that has hundreds of languages, having Kiswahili as the common denominator would enhance unity in diversity.
Author: Timilehin Boyinde
Oluwatimilehin Boyinde is a research writer and a social media strategist. A public affairs analyst, he writes about history, politics, sports, life matters and technology. He is passionate about happenings in Local and international political arenas. He is an avid Manchester United fan and an unapologetic Nigerian.