South African schools will start teaching Kiswahili to students from 2020  

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South African schools will start teaching Kiswahili to students from 2020

By Abdi Latif Dahir
September 18, 2018

Africa’s most “internationally recognized language” will soon be taught in South African classrooms.

Starting in 2020, schools will teach Kiswahili as an optional language, making it the first African language outside South Africa to be offered in class. Education minister Angie Motshekga said the move was meant to promote unity and “social cohesion with fellow Africans.” Anti-immigrant sentiments have brewed in South Africa in the past decade, leading to sporadic attacks on the homes and businesses of communities including Malawians, Somalis, and Nigerians.

The push to embrace the Swahili language comes as African countries look into plans to reform and critically assess their education systems. There’s also the recognition that the continent needs a new strategy for mother-tongue based education from primary through to tertiary level education, and to cast aside dependence on foreign languages. This realization also arrives as African languages continue to die as governments adopt official languages while discouraging local ones, in hopes of forging a harmonized national identity.

In a continent with more than 2,000 distinct languages, the role and importance of indigenous African languages in post-colonial modern societies has also proved to be a contentious issue. Over the last few decades, the place of African languages has suffered negative consequences due to colonization, globalization, and the entrenchment of official languages like English and French. African languages have often been labeled as a hindrance to learning, and have suffered delegitimization at social, economic, and political spheres.

More often than not, foreign languages have also displaced African languages in educational, cultural and even leadership spheres. For instance, at his farewell speech as the chairman of the African Union in 2004, Mozambique’s then-president Joaquim Chissano surprised African leaders by delivering his remarks in Kiswahili. At the time, the AU was only using English, Portuguese, Arabic, and French as its official languages—and government officials, caught unawares, scrambled to find translators. The event later pushed the continental body to introduce Kiswahili as an official language.

Since then many governments and activists have moved to call for institutions, both local and foreign, to embrace the Swahili language. In 2015, Tanzania announced it would dump English and solely stick to Kiswahili as a language of instruction. Campaigns have also been launched to get social media giants like Twitter to recognize Swahili—albeit in vain so far. Motshekga’s announcement also comes just weeks after the leader of South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters party Julius Malema suggested Swahili be adopted as the language of the African continent.

Economic Freedom Fighters

@EFFSouthAfrica
#EFFMediaBriefing Malema: We need to start doing away with those things. Maybe not in our generation, but in generations to come, we must develop a common language that can be used throughout the continent. Like Swahili, if it can be developed as the language of the continent.

6:30 AM - Aug 28, 2018
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“Since most of our conscious modes of conceptualizing, acting and moving about are conditioned in part by our language, to use the language of another culture is to use that culture’s ideas; and to use another culture’s ideas in place of one’s own is to relegate the latter to a position of de facto inferiority.”
-sbAt Rkhty Amen

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Posted : 09/18/2018 8:55 pm
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Nimefurahi!

Ma ku Mbôngi, ka matômbulawanga za ko. "The community's political institution does not borrow foreign dialects to discuss its political matters or to educate its' members" – Kikôngo proverb “The history of Africa will remain suspended in air and cannot be written correctly until African historians connect it with the history of Egypt [...] The African historian who evades the problem of Egypt is neither modest or objective, nor unruffled, he is ignorant, cowardly, and neurotic.” – Cheikh Anta Diop, The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality "African champions must break the chain that links African ideas to European ones and listen to the voice of the ancestors without European interpreters." – Jacob Carruthers, Mdw Ntr
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Posted : 09/19/2018 8:15 am
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