The Shona and Zulu languages of Zimbabwe and South Africa respectively are now being used to teach Kiswahili in those countries.
That was revealed during the World Kiswahili Day organized by the East African Community in the Ugandan City of Kampala.
Academic Professor at the University of Dar es Salaam academic Fikeni Senkoro emphasized the importance of using other local languages to teach Kiswahili.
He said the teaching of Kiswahili through other vernacular languages was possible because all languages have meeting points.
Speaking during the second World Kiswahili Language Day event in Kampala, Uganda, the language scholar said that languages have become commodities on the global stage.
Prof Senkoro underlined the urgent need to develop Kiswahili and other languages to make them marketable in people’s daily lives and business transactions.
But it was observed that most Africans worship foreign languages due to their colonial heritage dividing the continent into Anglophone (English), Francophone (French) and Lusophone (Portuguese) linguistic zones.
The Kiswahili scholar said that the other challenge for the language had come from negative perceptions and singled out Uganda where Kiswahili had been viewed as a language of the army and police.
On a positive note, Prof Senkoro however was glad that some EAC Partner States had already established National Kiswahili Councils to promote the language.
“As we examine the challenges that we face regarding Kiswahili and multilingualism, we must look on the positive side so that we identify the opportunities that evolve from the situation,” he added.
There are approximately 200 million people spread across East and Central Africa and other parts of the world and the don advocated for the teaching of Kiswahili through African philosophies or ideologies including Ubuntu, Humanism, Ujamaa and Pan-Africanism.
“It is very possible that the Pan-Africanist spirit originated from African philosophies contained in African languages.”
“We can refer to the philosophies and outlooks by the leaders of different African countries immediately after independence, such as Ubuntu, Humanism (Kenneth Kaunda), Ujamaa (Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere), and others,” said Prof. Senkoro.
The need to revive the East African Publishing House, this time to be owned by the East African Community through which printing, publishing and distribution of Kiswahili teaching materials will be carried out, was also mentioned.
On his part Prof. Kenneth Simala, who teaches Kiswahili at Masinde Muliro University in Kakamega, Kenya, said that one of the weakest fields of scholarship on Pan-Africanism is the relatively little research that has been undertaken on the Kiswahili Language.
Prof. Simala, who was the pioneer Executive Secretary of the East African Kiswahili Commission, said that a key principle of Pan-Africanism as an ideological movement is commitment to the promotion of political and cultural solidarity and identity.
Uganda’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for EAC Affairs, Rebecca Kadaga, said that 21 African countries use French as the official language with a few others using Spanish and Portuguese as their official languages.
She however pointed out that the prospects for the development of Kiswahili in Uganda were bright, noting that a good number of Ugandans had earned doctorates in Kiswahili from Makerere University, Kampala while a national Kiswahili Language Teachers Association had already been established.