The idea of Swahili as a pan-African language was pushed in the 1960s by Tanzania’s first President Julius Nyerere, who used Swahili to unify his nation after independence. Despite this post-colonial vision and the current boosted status of Swahili there has to be a dose of realism. European languages are still dominant throughout the continent – and it will take a big effort to shift that. Currently, English is the official or second language in 27 out of the 54 countries in Africa, and French is the official language in 21 of them. “English is still the language of power,” says Chege Githiora, a linguistics professor in Kenya, in recognition of the political and economic reality. He advocates what he calls “fluent multilingualism” where people are comfortable speaking more than one trans-national language. If Swahili is to become truly pan-African it will take political will, an economic imperative and financial investment to reach all regions. “When Swahili was first taught in Ghana in 1964 it got significant support from the University of Dar es Salaam, but this was not sustained,” says Dr Josephine Dzahene-Quarshie, a Swahili professor at the University of Ghana.
Zola Bantu Kiswahili Class Introduction