Uganda government has okayed the establishment of the Uganda National Kiswahili Council, to guide the introduction of Kiswahili as the second national language in the country.
“The Constitution provides that we shall have two national languages [that is] English and Swahili but we have not been using Swahili. This council will be recruiting Swahili teachers who will be deployed to teach Swahili in schools,” said Mr Ofwono Opondo, the executive director of Uganda Media Centre.
Since 1962 when Uganda gained independence, English became Uganda’s lone official language, until 2005 when Kiswahili, which was viewed as neutral was proposed as the country’s second official language.
While the Ugandan constitution is mandated to ensure that Kiswahili is rooted as the second national language, the okayed council is expected to oversee the establishment of policy, legal and institutional framework for setting standards for effective promotion, development and usage of Kiswahili at all levels.
In Kenya, on July 4, 1974, President Jomo Kenyatta declared Kiswahili a Parliamentary language, and with the promulgation of the new Constitution, Kiswahili has become one of the two official languages in Kenya.
Today, Kiswahili is compulsory and examinable in schools that can be used in official documents and laws. The Chama cha Kiswahili cha Kitaifa had for years pushed to have Kiswahili upgraded to the official language.
However, the law still recognises English as the only language of proceedings in the High Court and the Court of Appeal.