Do you think Swahili/Kiswahili should or can be the language of the African Continent? Why and how?

September 15, 2008 by · 4 Comments 

African countries have many languages, but unfortunately the majority of Africans in the continent cannot communicate in their own languages. They use languages of their colonial masters, English, French, Portugese, Spanish, etc., etc. to communicate and ran their governments!!

Only few countries, such as Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda can communicate in Kiswahili, which belongs to no particular tribe.

African Union has recently adopted Kiswahili as one of its official languages and at their recent summit, it has been suggested and proposed that Swahili should be adopted as the language of the continent. Do you see this feasible?

I will admit that Kiswahili is relatively easy to learn and might make a good international language, but I don’t see the feasibility of forcing people throughout Africa to learn Swahili. You mentioned that only those in Uganda, Kenya & Tanzania speak Swahili, but that isn’t entirely true within these countries. Many of the Masa’i speak KiMasai and English, with very little Swahili. Also, older adults and young children in rural villages tend to speak the local tribal language better and more fluently than Kiswahili. People on the borders in the neighboring countries (like Malawi & Zambia) often speak Swahili better than some East African natives because it is the language of commerce across the border.

However, one must remember that many hoping to bring in tourist dollars are learning English, German, French, Dutch, Japanese, Hindi or Mandarin in order to speak with the tourists. I don’t believe it is very realistic to expect Africans to learn and share in Swahili when each language has it’s own background and reasons behind it’s use.

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