Kamukunji Member of Parliament Yusuf Hassan has urged the government to create Kiswahili language council, to match English’s dorminance.
The member of parliament for Kamukunji constituency wondered why Kiswahili language has had to settle on the short end of the stick when compared to its English language counterpart. Unlike in the neighbouring Tanzania and Uganda, Kenya has not given the language the necessary ingredients that a language would require to flourish. Kiswahili language, alongside English, are categorised as national languages in Kenya. However, the latter has had lion’s share when they are rated, or on their usage in official capacities.
In a motion before the National Assembly, Hassan wants the government to launch specific strategies, methods and policies that are required to promote and develop the Kiswahili language. “Kiswahili is the native language for communities in the coastal region of Kenya, and also a large number of Kenyans are speakers of the language,” he said.
“English language is very strong in official communication, and therefore contributing to the weakening of our Kiswahili language.”
In this feat, Tanzania seemed have heeded a call much earlier when they formed Tanzania Kiswahili Council (BAKITA) way back in 1967 while Zanzibar did the same, by forming Kiswahili Market of Zanzibar (BAKIZA) in 2004. So far, the two enjoy the highest percentage when it comes to Kiswahili language speaking, not only in Africa, but globally.
In August 14. of 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration, through cabinet, approved the establishment of the National Kiswahili Council (which hasn’t been effected up to now) to inform government policy on developing, protecting and supporting the language.
“The establishment of the National Kiswahili Council is in line with Article 137 of the East African Community treaty which provides that Kiswahili shall be promoted, developed and used as a Community language,” State House said in a statement then.
Kiswahili language, just like all other languages, falls under the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage – which has received a new custodian in Aisha Jumwa, who took the oath of office yesterday.