By John Ikani
Uganda’s cabinet has approved the adoption of Swahili as an official language, according to a statement.
The cabinet also recommended that the teaching of Swahili in primary and secondary should be made compulsory.
English has been Uganda’s only official language since independence in 1962. Swahili was proposed as the second official language in 2005 but is only taught as an optional subject in secondary schools since 2017.
Swahili, which originated in East Africa, is one of the world’s 10 most widely spoken languages with about 200 million speakers.
The language and its dialects is spoken from parts of Somalia down to Mozambique and across the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In a tweeted statement, the Ugandan cabinet said the decision followed a directive by the East African Community bloc to adopt the language to ease communication among member countries.
Cabinet approved the implementation of the 21st EAC Summit directive in Uganda to adopt 𝐊𝐈𝐒𝐖𝐀𝐇𝐈𝐋𝐈 𝐀𝐒 𝐀𝐍 𝐎𝐅𝐅𝐈𝐂𝐈𝐀𝐋 𝐋𝐀𝐍𝐆𝐔𝐀𝐆𝐄 of the community. Cabinet also recommended that the teaching of Kiswahili in primary and secondary should be made compulsory. pic.twitter.com/LfBPJs2ruK
— Government of Uganda (@GovUganda) July 5, 2022
With the development, 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.