Arusha. The East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) wants Kiswahili language to be promoted as the lingua franca of the Community, it was announced here yesterday.
The regional Assembly is urging the East African Community Council of Ministers, which is the policy organ of the Community, to act on the matter as per the EAC Treaty.
“Kiswahili language should be promoted as the lingua franca of the Community as per Article 131 of the EAC Treaty so that it may uphold East Africanness as an entity,” the legislators said during their on-going sessions in Bujumbura, Burundi.
English is the official language of EAC and its organs, including the Assembly, while Kiswahili has been a widely spoken language in the region.
The status of the language went up recently with an announcement that a regional Kiswahili Commission would be created as an institution of the EAC. The new body would be based in Zanzibar. Debating the motion, Ugandan legislator Mike Sebalu said the promotion of Kiswahili would enhance the free movement of labour across the region as it would ease comunication and provide jobs to teachers given the growing need for instructors in the language in all corners of East Africa.
“It would be a good idea to have teachers from Tanzania crossing to Uganda to teach the language,” he suggested, according to a dispatch from the EAC Secretariat.
For his part, the chairman of the EAC Council of Ministers, Mr Shem Bageine, told the House that Kiswahili was already enshrined in the Uganda Constitution and that it was necessary to popularise it.
“We hope that soon Kiswahili would be introduced in schools in Uganda to bolster its popularity,” he pointed out.
The Assembly is also calling for the establishment of a mechanism for reaching out to the people of East Africa as well as to promote and espouse the fundamental principles of the Community.
The recommendations sum up the Report of the Nanyuki (VII) Seminar (Inter-Parliamentary Relations Seminar) which was tabled and adopted by the House on Wednesday.
The report presented to the House by Mr Abdul Karim Harelimana from Rwanda was a culmination of a two-day series held in Entebbe, Uganda, on June 10-11, 2013. The report further identified specific roles for specific stakeholders, including the academia, media and civil society as well as the private sector, gender and youth.
The theme of the Nanyuki VII was “Promoting a people-centred and market-driven East Africa – the Missing Link in EAC integration.”
The June Seminar which was also addressed by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda further tasked the Council of Ministers to consider developing regional youth centres, exchange programmes and entrepreneurship projects to promote the youth agenda in the region.