Kiswahili Could Become Second Official Language

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed May 11 14:11:13 UTC 2005

>>From The East African Standard (Nairobi)

Kiswahili Could Become Second Official Language

May 9, 2005

By Masinde Kusimba

The Government is working on a policy to have Kiswahili adopted as an
official language by the end of the year. The Director of Cultural
Services, Mr Silverse Anami, said Kiswahili will then be used alongside
English as an alternative official language. English is the only
legislated official language while Kiswahili is classified as a national
language, applying only in informal situations.

Anami said there was need to promote the usage of Kiswahili in official
places saying the language got a boost last year when it was adopted as
the African Union's (AU) official language. "By the virtue of being the
AU's official language, people all over the continent are struggling to
use Kiswahili and it is high time we gave it the prominence it deserves,"
said Anami.

He regretted that Kiswahili had been treated as inferior to English and
French. Anami said a task force headed by Kenyatta University Kiswahili
lecturer Prof Kimani Njogu had been established to come up with a
programme aimed at legislating Kiswahili as Kenya's official language.
"This will see the government adopt Kiswahili and use it in official
documents," said Anami, adding that the move was aimed at promoting
indigenous languages.

He said court proceedings and Parliamentary Hansard among other official
documents, will also be written in Kiswahili when the legislation goes
through. Anami was speaking in Eldoret when he presided over Marakwet
Cultural Day at Eldoret Municipal Hall. He said an East African Kiswahili
Council comprising of the language experts had been formed to work on the
modalities of adopting Kiswahili as East Africa's official language.

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