Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Relations Bernard Membe

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hon Bernard Membe (MP), on Thursday launched the first Kiswahili class at the Language Centre of the African Union where he emphasized the importance of Kiswahili as one of the fastest growing languages in the continent.

Speaking at the official launching ceremony, which took place on the sidelines of the 20th Session of the Executive Council of the African Union (AU), the Minister said Kiswahili has been used as a unifying tool in most of the countries in Africa, Tanzania in particular.

“I will inform my President and countrymen that Kiswahili has wings, it has now landed in Addis Ababa at the African Union, it is doing wonders,” the minister noted. He further noted that apart from the fact that Kiswahili is widely spoken in Africa, it borrows most of its vocabulary from Arabic and African languages.

This makes it one of the most popular languages among the Arab and African countries. The Minister commended the Tanzanian Embassy in Addis Ababa for initiating the course, saying the initiative will help in popularising the language within and beyond Africa.
He thanked H.E. Joram Biswaro, Tanzania’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and AU, for striving to initiate the project without any financial assistance.

The Coordinator of the Programme at the Tanzania Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ms Suma Mwakyusa, said the class has a total of 26 students, all of whom are AU officials and members of the Diplomatic Corps. She said that there would be two classes taught by competent Tanzanian teachers namely Ms Elizabeth Magoke and Mrs Ikunda Sabath on voluntary basis.

“The teachers understood our initiative and, being nationalists, agreed to volunteer to teach,” she said. She said that the Embassy in collaboration with the African Union Commission intends to  organise a three-week trip to Tanzania for the best students  to enable them practise the language  as spoken by the  Swahili natives in the streets of Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.

The AU Coordinator for Languages, Mr Linus Chata, expressed his appreciation for the Tanzania High Level visit to the Language Centre, noting that it signifies the commitment of Tanzania in supporting the programme. He said Kiswahili is the only language which is supported by an African Country — Tanzania — unlike other languages spoken in Africa which are being sponsored by countries outside the African Union.

By ASSAH MWAMBENE, Tanzania Daily News

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