January 2023 hasn’t exactly been a good month for Tanzania whose spokesman has been forced to stay awake all night long, refuting one media report after another.
A recent screenshot of what is being described as a publication by the Germany outlet, Deutsche Welle which claims that ‘Tanzania is banning Kiswahili from the country’s Secondary Schools,’ happens to be the latest headache.
It is currently the most shared peace of information (or misinformation) on social networks and the government’s spokesperson is not impressed.
“Tanzania is not banning Kiswahili from Secondary Schools,” Gerson Mswigwa insists, adding that an official statement to reinforce the government’s stance on the matter should follow soon.
He has the right to be irked; Kiswahili remains Tanzania’s only saving grace as far as languages are concerned.
English, the other academic language, is still a challenge even along the corridors of higher institutions of learning.
But with Kiswahili, Tanzania boasts its own trump card.
More than 90 percent of the country’s population of 62 million, can speak the language fluently.
“We are highly promoting the language and even started preparations to export Kiswahili teachers to other countries that are interested to learn the language,” Msigwa maintains.
Together with English, Kiswahili is a National Language for both Kenya and Tanzania, despite the fact that Kenya is still struggling to master the dialect.
Kiswahili is also used in Eastern DR Congo, parts of Uganda as well as in Burundi and partially Rwanda.
Kiswahili is also the Lingua-Franca for the East African Community, which now comprises seven Member States; Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, South-Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The language is also spoken in the Comoros albeit with slightly different intonations.
Rwanda is now seriously investing in Kiswahili teachers but so far many have been coming from Kenya.
South Africa is also slowly but surely engaging Kiswahili in some of its schools.
China teaches Kiswahili at Beijing’s Peking University and so does Japan.
In Tanzania, Kiswahili is the main medium of instruction in public Primary Schools. Private institutions are mostly using English.
English eventually takes over as the main teaching language for all Secondary Schools, High Schools, Colleges and Universities.
But Kiswahili remains a compulsory subject in all stages of education.
The Oxford English Dictionary has been adopting a number of Kiswahili vocabularies and Street slang to form new words in their latest editions.