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Uganda adopts Swahili as an official language

Uganda’s ICT Minister Dr Chris Baryomunsi. [Twitter]

Uganda’s Cabinet has approved the implementation of an East African Community (EAC) directive to adopt Swahili as the official language, the Daily Monitor reported.

The directive was issued on June 10, 2022, during the closure of training exercises by the armed forces of member states, comprising Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The directive is aimed at easing communication and promoting culture, trade and unity among the EAC member states.

Following Uganda’s adoption, the country’s ICT and National Guidance Minister, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, said that the language is compulsory and examinable and as a result, will now be taught in primary and secondary schools.

“It was further agreed that training programs for Parliament, Cabinet and the media be initiated,” he was quoted by the Daily Monitor.

Uganda now joins Kenya and Tanzania in making the language official. Though not official, the language is also spoken in parts of Burundi, Rwanda and DR Congo.

The milestone follows South Africa’s 2020 decision to introduce Swahili as an optional language in the country’s curriculum.

In 2021, UNESCO member states in Paris, France, designated July 7 as World Swahili Language Day.

The African Union adopted Swahili as an official working language in February 2022 during the bloc's 35th ordinary session in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.