Swahili to be Official East African Community Language

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Swahili to be Official East African Community Language

Big news! The East African Community has decided to use Swahili as their the official language. This is no surprise, as a large part of the population in most of the association’s countries already speak the language. However, this is not the case in Uganda, which is why all Ugandan citizens have been ordered by the government to learn the language.

When a number of countries form an alliance and a number of countries share the same language, it can be convenient use this language as the main language of communication. According to the Africa Report, this is exactly what happened for the East African Community, which consists of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. They have declared Swahili to be their official language.

This decision can easily be explained, as Tanzania and Kenya already regard Swahili, which is a mix between the local languages of east African tribes and Arabic, as an official language, the Africa Report says.

EAC Countries on a map

In addition, many people in Rwanda and Burundi speak the language as well. The only outsider here is Uganda; here, Swahili is only spoken by a small part of the population.

The Africa Report claims this has to do with the fact that many Ugandans dislike the language because it was used by dictators and colonial officials.

The Ugandan government has decided that now the language will become the official language of the EAC, all Ugandans must learn Swahili.

According to the Africa Report, this president Yoweri Museveni is thus keen to increase the popularity of the language. To create more Swahili speakers, all institutions involved in languages have not only been asked to use Swahili, but also to promote the language and teach it to those that do not speak it. As a result, the government hopes the language will become another national language in Uganda, the African Report says.

According to Barbra Nekesa, Uganda’s Information Minister, the government hopes the decision to make Swahili more widespread in the country will mean conducting business with other EAC states will be easier. She says communication will run more smoothly as the language barrier between business partners will disappear. Nekesa states that the Ugandan government has always promoted the Swahili language but that the negative image the language obtained during the regime of dictator Idi Amin had prevented the efforts from becoming successful.

Katia Reed
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