East African Kiswahili Commission, Zanzibar, 13th April, 2018:
The East African Kiswahili Commission (EAKC) has been urged to use Kiswahili soft power to accelerate and enhance regional integration and sustainable development in the East African Community (EAC). This call was made by the Deputy Secretaries General of the EAC, Hon. Jesca Eriyo (Finance and Administration) and Eng. Steven Mlote (Planning and Infrastructure) during a national Training Workshop on Capacity Assessment of the Development and Use of Kiswahili in the United Republic of Tanzania.
The Workshop was organized by the EAKC at a Dar-es-Salaam hotel on 10th -11thApril, 2018 and attended by 35 participants drawn from various stakeholders from across the United Republic of Tanzania.
Hon. Jesca Eriyo observed that capacity assessment is an important milestone in the implementation of the Commission’s Strategic Plan of harmonizing and promoting the development and use of Kiswahili in regional integration and sustainable development. She noted that Kiswahili is an important power and resource that can help the community in realizing its agenda.
Hon. Eriyo singled out the United Republic of Tanzania for having realized the importance of Kiswahili in national cohesion at an early stage. She said that there are important lessons for the rest of EAC Partner States to learn from Tanzania in integrating Kiswahili in national development plans, prorammes and projects. She noted that Kiswahili is fast spreading across the region and beyond, and being used at multiple levels to transmit knowledge and values.
In his address to the participants, the Deputy Secretary in charge of Planning and Infrastructure, Eng. Steven Mlote appreciated the importance of Kiswahili in various development domains. He noted that whereas infrastructure development is largely understood as depending on hard power, Kiswahili as a soft power is equally important and necessary for holistic development.
Eng. Mlote observed that in their interactions with citizens of East Africa, various professionals require appropriate Kiswahili communication skills to be effective. ‘Kiswahili is so dynamic that different East African communities and professionals are interacting and using it in different ways. You cannot talk of the development and use of Kiswahili without referring to Kiswahili for specific purposes, including the movement of various professionals.’
Eng. Mlote urged the researchers to find out what skills need to be developed and asked the Commission to develop them. To demonstrate its commitment to the development and use of Kiswahili in the EAC, Eng. Mlote urged the Commission to develop and implement Kiswahili programmes at the EAC Secretariat for Staff and other international community in Arusha who may require them.
In his remarks, the EAKC Executive Secretary, Prof. Kenneth Simala, said that the Workshop in Dar-es-Salaam was part of a series of regional trainings that are taking place across all EAC Partner States.
He said that though generally not appreciated, the language question is at the core of EAC regional integration and development. Prof. Simala observed that Kiswahili language cannot be considered as just an instrument of wider communication, but as a regional identity marker with a strong symbolic value, and a resource in economic development of the Community in terms of popular culture as well as creative industries.
He noted that Kiswahili linguistic governance in EAC is a very technical and political matter that the Commission is navigating with care and caution in the context of regionalization and globalization.
The ES promised to initiate Kiswahili programmes at the Secretariat so that those desirous to learn Kiswahili can be facilitated.
For more information, please contact:
East African Kiswahili Commission
P.O. Box 600
Tel: +255 024 2232704/ +255 024 2232722
About the East African Kiswahili Commission:
The East African Kiswahili Commission (EACK) is an institution of the East African Community based in Zanzibar, The United Republic of Tanzania. The Commission started its operations in May, 2015 and has developed the Annual Operations Plan for 2016-2017. The Commission’s vision is to be the leading body in the promotion and coordination of the development and usage of Kiswahili for regional integration and sustainable development.
Members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) on Monday pledged to play their role to ensure the East African Kiswahili Commission gets necessary funding and proper legal framework for it to achieve its mission.
Established in 2015, the commission is charged with, among others, promoting and developing Kiswahili language across member states of the regional bloc and beyond.
The lawmakers on Monday visited the Commission, one of the bloc’s eight semi-autonomous institutions, at the beginning of their two-week on-spot assessment of institutions, installations and facilities of the EAC on the Central Corridor.
Their pledge came after Prof. Kenneth Simala, the Commission’s Executive Secretary, briefed them about the institution’s challenges and its $23.3 million strategic plan, 2017-2022, as it looks to use Kiswahili to enhance political, economic and social cohesion within the EAC, among others.
One group of lawmakers, who are assessing developments on the Central Corridor, set off from Zanzibar where the Commission is based while another set off from Mombasa, Kenya, to cover the Northern Corridor.
p>Lawmakers acknowledged that the institution, mandated to coordinate and promote the development and use of Kiswahili language in the region, lacks sufficient funds as well as proper legal framework as it continues to operate under a protocol.
Simala said: “There is no need to set up institutions that are not well funded and staffed. We aren’t doing most of what we are supposed to do because of lack of funds.”
Shedding light on the institution’s financial woes, Simala noted that, among others, partner states release funds around May “when we are at the end of the financial year” and the funds go to the reserve fund.
“It then becomes a serious audit query as we are later asked why we are asking for funds yet what we were given is not yet spent.”
Besides meager funds, the institution, whose budget for the year 2017/18 is $1,553,098, is also bogged down by the fact that they continue to operate under a protocol and this presents several challenges including the fact that the institution has no management board.
Simala noted that the current draft budget – 2018/19 – will not be increased.
By close of the first quarter of the current financial year, he observed, no contribution had been received from partner states yet they are all required to pay their contributions to the EAC budget in full by end of the second quarter of every financial year.
MP Fatuma Ndangiza (Rwanda), and others, promised to take up the issue regarding lack of a legal framework and see to it that things get better.
Rwanda has moved to promote the use of Kiswahili and parliament last year passed a law making it the fourth official language after Kinyarwanda, English and French.
Article 137 of the EAC Treaty provides that the language shall be promoted, developed and used as the lingua franca for the Community. While other EAC countries have significant numbers of their respective populations using the language, very few citizens of the new member, South Sudan, can speak Kiswahili.
Lawmakers agree that the country will take some time to catch up with the rest.
The promotion of Kiswahili use in the region is considered imperative to creating awareness and understanding of the challenges and opportunities that come with integration and sustainable development.
Simala said many countries including China, USA, South Africa, Ghana, and others, are today teaching Kiswahili because they know it is a resource to harness.
The lawmakers touring the Central Corridor continued their tour on Tuesday with a courtesy call on Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) and the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) in Dar es Salaam.
By: James Karuhanga
Published: February 14, 2018
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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For more information, please contact:
Mr Bobi Odiko
Senior Public Relations Officer
East African Legislative Assembly
Cell: +255-787-870945, +254-733-718036
Email: BOdiko [at] eachq.org
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.
East African Kiswahili Commission; Zanzibar, Tanzania; 20 March 2017:
From the 15th-17th March 2017, the East African Kiswahili Commission (EAKC) convened a three-day strategy implementation forum at the Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel, in Entebbe, Uganda.
The meeting brought together stakeholders from EAC Partner States, Kiswahili Associations and the Media to build a common understanding and shared ownership and to facilitate a consensus on the implementation approach to the Commission’s Strategic Plan (2017-2022).
The forum articulated a sequence of investments and activities needed to achieve the mandate of coordinating and promoting the development and use of Kiswahili in regional integration and sustainable development of the East African Community.
East African Community Secretariat; Arusha, Tanzania; 07 April 2017:
The 35th Meeting of the East African Community Council of Ministers took place from 30th March to 4th April 2017 at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
Among other highlights was the key resolution of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) on promoting the use of Kiswahili and adopting it as one of the official languages of the Community.
The Council considered amendment of Article 137 of the EAC Treaty to include Kiswahili as one of the Official Languages of the Community and directed Partner States to formulate National Kiswahili Language Policies and enhance the use of Kiswahili in official domains as well as initiate the process of institutionalization of Kiswahili as one of the EAC Official Languages through the establishment of National Kiswahili Councils and National Kiswahili Associations.
In August 2016, EALA passed a Resolution to urge the Summit of EAC to amend the Treaty for the establishment of the East African Community to provide for Kiswahili as one of the official Languages of the Community.In January 2017, the resolution sailed through at the 4th Meeting-5th Session of the 3rd Assembly held in Kampala, Uganda during which, the lawmakers underscored the need to elevate Kiswahili as one of the official languages of EAC from its current status of lingua franca.
Article 119 of the EAC Treaty, provides for the development and promotion of indigenous languages especially Kiswahili as a lingua franca of the region. Kiswahili is not only recognized as a unifying language spoken by East Africans but it is rich in dialect and expression.
This therefore means that Kiswahili will soon be adopted as an official language within the Community as soon as the EAC Summit of Heads of State amend the treaty to accommodate the new resolution. After amendment, Partner States are expected to facilitate adoption of the language at the national level.
Adopting Kiswahili as the second official language within the region will therefore mean a step towards uniting the people of the region. It will also deepen and widen integration within the region. Embracing the language at the regional level will increase the participation of the people of East Africa in the affairs of the community.
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For more information, please contact:
Mr Owora Richard Othieno
Head, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Department
Tel: +255 784 835021
Email: OOthieno [at] eachq.org
About the East African Community Secretariat:
The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation of five Partner States, comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.