From ASSAH MWAMBENE, in Addis Ababa
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hon Bernard K. Membe (MP) yesterday launched the first Kiswahili class at the Language Center of the African Union, where he emphasized the importance of Kiswahili as one of the fastest growing language in the continent.
Speaking at the official lauching ceremony which took place along the margins 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 African countries, Tanzania in particular.
"I will inform my President and my 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 vocaburaries from Arabic and African languages making it one of the most popular language 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, the Ambassador of Tanzania to Ethiopia and AU for striving to kickstart 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 who are AU officials and and members of the Diplomatic Corps. She informed that there will be two classes taught by competent Tanzanian teachers namely Mrs ELizabeth Magoke and Mrs Ikunda Sabath on voluntary basis.
"The teachers understood our initiative, and being nationalists agreed to volunteer to teach," said Ms. Mwakyusa. She added 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 practice 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.