Saturday, August 13, 2011


Government on the spot over Kiswahili promotion

By Rodgers Luhwago

The government yesterday came under scathing attack from members of Parliament for it failure to accord the Kiswahili language its due status, including making it the medium of instruction from secondary to tertiary level in the country.

Debating the budget estimates for the Ministry of Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, Bukombe legislator Prof Kulikoyela Kanyarwanda Kahigi (Chadema) raised the curtain of blame, saying it was high time Kiswahili was given its due status, considering the fact that it was is the national language.

Defending the argument of making Kiswahili the medium of instruction, Prof Kahigi, who is a former University of Dar es salaam don and Kiswahili expert, said effective knowledge was imparted through a familiar language. He said most Tanzanian students were facing a language barrier during learning, a factor that, he said, contributed to having poorly trained graduants .

He said a small country such as Iceland, with a population of about 280,000 people, embraced its Icelandic language in all fields of life, wondering why Tanzania, with over 40 million people, could not do the same.

Prof Kahigi said it was pathetic for the English language to be used as a medium of instruction and the official language at the High Court while Tanzania was a country of Swahili speakers.

“It always surprises me when I see Bills tabled in Parliament drafted in the English language while the laws enacted in this House are targeted to serve Tanzanians," he added.

The professor said patriotism in any nation was built on the foundation of a national language.

“How do you inculcate a culture of patriotism among your people through a borrowed language?” Prof Kahigi queried.

Iddi Azan (CCM-Kinondoni) also blamed the trend of using the English language at various occasions, such as meetings, seminars and workshops, even when the participants were all Kiswahili speakers.

Zainab Vullu (CCM- Special Seats ) supported Prof Kahigi’s view, saying while the government had continued to belittle the language other nations in the world were according it high status, including introducing Swahili services in radio broadcasting such as the Voice of America, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Japan (NHK).

China and Japan are among the countries that have successfully recorded a high level of development by the use of their national languages.

During the debate MPs exerted pressure on the government, urging it to expedite the process of drafting the Media Services Bill and the Freedom of Information Bill to shape the media industry in the country.

The budget was passed by Parliament yesterday evening.


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