June 24, 2024
Kenya and Tanzania Join Hands At The UN General Assembly To Push For World Kiswahili Language Day

Kenya and Tanzania Join Hands At The UN General Assembly To Push For World Kiswahili Language Day

In what may be a major win for East Africa, Kenya and Tanzania have led a move at the United Nations to establish a ‘World Kiswahili Language Day.’

According to Kenya’s Permanent Mission to the UN, the African Group at the UN welcomed the proposal to introduce a resolution to the United Nations General Assembly (NGA) on Friday, May 17.

 “Kiswahili is the only indigenous official language of the African Union. A UN resolution proclaiming a ‘World Kiswahili Language Day’ would be a milestone on the ultimate goal of UN official language status,” stated Ambassador Mike Kiboino, Deputy Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations.

Hassan Kattanga of Tanzania and Ambassador Kiboino jointly submitted the proposal.

The effort highlights Kiswahili’s growing relevance as a unifying language across the African continent.

These developments come after President Yoweri Museveni’s recent words recognizing Kiswahili as a great asset to the East African area.

During a State Visit to Nairobi on Thursday, May 16, Uganda’s President emphasized the economic possibilities of the common language.

Speaking at State House Nairobi after a meeting with his Kenyan counterpart, William Ruto, President Museveni emphasized East Africa’s distinct language edge over regions such as the European Union.

“We have one dialect that is not contested. With Kisii, Giriama… you may have some issues with that. But we have one that is not; Swahili. We are not like the European Union, who don’t have language,” Museveni said.

Museveni defined Kiswahili as “infrastructure created by God,” and advocated for its use to economically and politically unite East African member states.

“Here, Swahili is not contested. It can be used in the whole of East Africa, eastern Congo, northern Mozambique, and northern Zambia. It is a gold coin we have in our hands,” Museveni added.

In the 1950s, the United Nations established a Kiswahili language unit under UN Radio.

Kiswahili is still the only African language used by the United Nations’ Directorate of Global Communications.

The United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution on multilingualism on September 11, 2017, endorsed the establishment of a day devoted to each of its official languages.

This campaign seeks to raise awareness of their history, culture, and use and urges the Secretary-General and institutions such as UNESCO to consider expanding this essential recognition to other non-official languages.

In this context, the 41st session of UNESCO’s General Conference issued a resolution recognizing Kiswahili’s role in promoting cultural variety, fostering civilizational discussion, and promoting multilingualism as a core United Nations value.

The resolution designated July 7 as World Kiswahili Language Day each year, making Kiswahili the first African language recognized in this fashion by the United Nations.

The action has sparked enthusiasm across the continent, reflecting a larger drive for the recognition and preservation of indigenous languages.

Kenya and Tanzania Join Hands At The UN General Assembly To Push For World Kiswahili Language Day

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