Kiswahili scholars and enthusiasts have appealed to the government to set up a national Kiswahili council to promote the language.
The scholars spoke at Moi University yesterday to mark the World Kiswahili Language Day.
“There is an active proposal with the government from all Kiswahili stakeholders in the country for there to be an active national Kiswahili council, otherwise known as ‘Baraza la Kiswahili’. It has however taken extraordinarily long for that to be brought into fruition,” says Mosol Kandagor, an Associate Professor at the Moi University’s Kiswahili department.
The council, says Prof Kandagor, will help unite all Swahili stakeholders in the country and East Africa. “Had there been a common forum that unites all Swahili stakeholders in the country, we would have had a common function and together articulate issues of concern to the language. It is unfortunate that this year’s celebrations will independently be done by interested groups and stakeholders through the country,” said the don.
According to Kandagor, Kiswahili plays an integral role in developing every country’s social, economic and political fabric. “If you analyse government funding carefully, you will note that a lot of money meant for research is only channelled to sciences and technology, and almost nothing is given to language research. Swahili suffers a lot since there are no fund to further our research and fully develop it,” he explains.
The experts also think formations on the forum will help bring together experts in Kiswahili in the region and helping to grow the language in their respective spaces.
“Most of these experts are either teachers, lecturers at universities or writers. We, therefore, need a special forum for us to harmonise Kiswahili as a common language in the region,” said Prof Samuel Obuchi from Moi University’s Kiswahili Department.
He said without a common forum, the language would develop differently across the region, a recipe for extinction.