The East African Kiswahili Commission is set to host the 1st International Kiswahili Conference at the Golden Tulip Boutique Hotel in Zanzibar, Tanzania. The 6th to 8th September 2017 Conference themed ‘Transforming the East African Community through Kiswahili’, will be attended by various Kiswahili stakeholders, including policy makers, scholars, media owners and practitioners, as well as students from across the East African Community and beyond. Representatives from the EAC Partner States will also attend the Conference.
The Executive Secretary for the East African Kiswahili Commission, Prof. Kenneth Simala, has noted that the overall objective of the Conference is to brainstorm on how the development and use of Kiswahili can stimulate new ideas, solve problems, and implement solutions to challenges of sustainable development in the EAC.
“The Conference will bring together Kiswahili stakeholders to discuss how the development and use of the language can creatively be used in deepening and widening EAC integration and contribute towards the realization of sustainable development in the region,” reiterated Prof. Simala.
The International Kiswahili Conference is premised in the logic that the post-2015 development agenda is bound to shape policies, programmes and projects worldwide for the next fifteen years. To this end, each and every Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) and target therefore provides an opportunity for Kiswahili to support communication. The goals and targets further present great avenues for Kiswahili to demonstrate shared values while contributing towards local, national and regional sustainable growth.
The Executive Secretary pointed out that the East African Community has the potential for growth and change through the adoption and implementation SDGs. This will provide the Community with an opportunity to survive and thrive in an ever-changing environment, characterized by innovation and transformation. He explained that creative, innovative and transformative development and use of Kiswahili have the potential for enhancing relevant knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to tackle the challenges that come with implantation of the SDGs.
The Conference participants are expected to redefine the challenges and opportunities that come with SDGs; develop new, innovative responses and solutions; and make policy recommendations to Partner States on the actions that need to be taken in the development and use of Kiswahili.
The Commission will also launch the East African Kiswahili Commission Strategic Plan (2017-2022) during the Conference.
The East African Kiswahili Commission (EAKC) has been commended for actively contributing towards the East African Community (EAC) efforts of regional integration and sustainable development. Addressing an EAKC Expert Strategic Plan (2017-2022) Translation Quality Control Workshop held at the EAC Secretariat in Arusha on 12th-14th July, 2017, EAC Deputy Secretary General responsible for Political Federation, Mr. Charles Njoroge, underscored the importance of Kiswahili as a strategic communication tool necessary for deepening regional integration and sustainable development. Mr. Njoroge noted that as a common language of wider communication, Kiswahili is crucial for empowerment and necessary for active participation of citizens in EAC affairs. He further observed that EAC Partner States are doing a lot in the development and use of Kiswahili and urged the Commission to work closely with all stakeholders to complement those efforts.
East African Legislative Assembly; Arusha, Tanzania; 26 August 2016:
EALA is to push for recognition of Kiswahili as one of the official languages of the Community. Late yesterday, EALA passed a Resolution to urge the Summit of EAC to amend the Treaty for the establishment of the Community to provide for Kiswahili as one of the official Languages of the Community.
At the same time, the Council of Ministers should allocate adequate resources to EAC Kiswahili Commission to effectively carry out its mandate.The Resolution moved by Hon Abubakar Zein wants the Partner States to promote and allow the use of Kiswahili in official domains.
The Resolution which received wide acclaim, was seconded by Hon Shyrose Bhanji and Hon Abdullah Mwinyi. 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. The Resolution states that Kiswahili is the fastest spreading African globe across the globe and that the African Union has made Kiswahili one of its official languages. Analysts contend that making Kiswahili one of the official languages of the Community is one way to deepen and widen the integration process.
According to Hon 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 constitute more than 50 per cent of African population. The regional legislators commended the Resolution saying its passage would enable the immediate negation of the perception that the Assembly is for the elitist population and instead embrace the principle of a people-centred Community. Several legislators supported the Resolution terming it as timely.
Hon Kessy Nderakindo said the use of Kiswahili would boost education and give confidence to the students. Hon Martin Ngoga said that Kiswahili brought people together since it was widely spoken. “I really should have contributed to this debate in Kiswahili,” the legislator said to the amusement of the Assembly Members. On his part, Hon Joseph Kiangoi said it was time for East Africans to be proud of their culture. “Let us embrace Kiswahili, it is part of our culture”, he said. Hon Abdullah Mwinyi noted that Kiswahili was key as a common language. He said the United Republic of Tanzania which embraced diversity in culture embraced Kiswahili as a uniting factor. Hon Adam Kimbisa said Kiswahili was indeed the “lingua franca” of the Community while Hon Mike Sebalu said the Assembly also should embrace Kiswahili for its richness.
Hon Shyrose Bhanji, who seconded the Motion said the language would unite the region and help to create an east African spirit. Hon Dora Byamukama hailed the move as positive for the region. “The Assembly also needs to be practical to acknowledge that there are some Partner States such as Uganda have a large population that does not speak Kiswahili and in the Treaty there is a provision for development as a lingua franca”, she said. “There is need to do more to develop Kiswahili in the country,” she said.
On her part, Hon Dr Odette Nyiramilimo called for the establishment of a Kiswahili Learning Centre to enable staff, Members an all stakeholders involved in the integration process to fully comprehend the language.
Kiswahili is a Bantu language and the first language of the Swahili people. It is a lingua franca of the East African Community and the Great Lakes region. According to the wikipedia, the closely related Comorian language, (Shikomor), also spoken in Mayote Island (Shimaore) is closely related to Kiswahili.
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East African Legislative Assembly
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About the East African Legislative Assembly:
The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) is the Legislative Organ of the Community and has a cardinal function to further EAC objectives, through its Legislative, Representative and Oversight mandate. It was established under Article 9 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community.