AU adopts Swahili as official working language

A meeting is in progress at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. [Courtesy]

African Union (AU) Heads of States and Governments have approved Swahili to be one of the bloc's official working languages.

The approval follows a request by Tanzanian Vice-president Dr Phillip Mpango.

In his request, Dr Mpango suggested that Swahili is one of the most widely spoken languages in Africa with about 100 million people within and outside the continent.

"Kiswahili is already in use in various communities including the East African Community (EAC), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as well as a teaching language in many African countries," he said.

Also, he said the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared July 7 as the World Kiswahili Language Day.

The two-day summit also addressed the impact of Covid-19 on the continent and the urgent need to mitigate the emerging scourge of unconstitutional changes of governments and the scourge of terrorism across the continent.

In November last year, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced that Swahili would be recognised globally once every year, starting July 7, 2022.

The language, which has its roots in East Africa, became the first dialect on the continent to get recognised by UNESCO.

The announcement was made on Tuesday, November 23, during its 41st Member States’ Session held in Paris, France.

“The UN has set aside a day to fete Kiswahili. The language will be celebrated on July 7 every year. The decision has been passed by all members of UNESCO without any objection,” the organisation said on Twitter on Tuesday.