Nakuru County in the forefront in unleashing Kiswahili language potential in the Digital Era
Written By Jeremy Ogolla and Dennis Telewa
Kiswahili has already carved a niche for itself in most avenues around the world. The world is today celebrating World Kiswahili Day with excitement and enthusiasm. Under the subject “Unleashing Kiswahili’s Potential in the Digital Era,”
Several counties have joined the world in marking this auspicious occasion, with Nakuru County Under the leadership of H.E Governor Susan Kihika not left out either. The County of Unlimited Opportunities thus marked the colorful event at the Nakuru Players Theatre a few meters from Nakuru Central Business District.
The event was attended by Swahili enthusiasts from all walks of life, with show professor James Onyango Ogolla giving a brief synopsis of what it entails on the importance of the Swahili language, a language of unification, even in the setting of the digital world.
“Swahili is both the national or official language of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as being one of the official languages of the East African Community and African Union. It is a language of influence politically, economically and socially, and a knowledge of it can deepen business relationships more so to as people of Nakuru County,” said Professor Ogolla.
Professor Ogolla, who lectures at Laikipia University, however, called on the need to develop a Swahili sign language curriculum in order to ensure inclusivity and positive contribution of the marginalized to the socio-economic development of Nakuru County.
His sentiments were echoed by Mr Erick Muriuki from the directorate of Tourism and Culture who said the County under the leadership of Governor Kihika is at the forefront of embracing Swahili language to positively propagate its socio-economic development.
“The County is ready to ensure bills and legislations are translated in Swahili to ensure Nakuru residents fully participate and understand the laws that govern them”, said Mr Muriuki who represented Tourism and Culture Chief Officer Rosemary Kimani at the event.
He underscored the purpose of the event, which he said is to raise awareness of the role that Kiswahili plays in bridging disparate populations and enabling inclusive engagement in the digital world.
“Kiswahili is a cross-cultural communication language used in Nakuru to bridge the gap formed by the county’s multilingual populace. The language promotes togetherness, pride, and understanding by allowing individuals to work towards a common objective,” said Kiogora Mureithi from the Directorate of Social Services.
The event provides a forum for addressing policies and initiatives that would elevate Kiswahili to the status of a language essential for creativity, communication, and digital literacy, enabling it to reach its full potential in the rapidly evolving digital world.
Mr Kiogora however called on the need to develop a Swahili sign language curriculum in order to ensure inclusivity and positive contribution of the marginalized to socio-economic development of Nakuru County.
They were speaking in a panel where they joined other panellists in urging youths to feel proud of the Swahili language by tapping into the job opportunities that the language has availed. The opportunities are Swahili news anchor, Swahili drama as well as story writing.
Among the panellists were Mr Wanyambugi Muraya an activist, Mr. Michael Kiguta a teacher, Dr. Abdul Noor the chair of Chama Cha Kiswahili Cha Taifa (CHAKITA) and Barbushe Maina UNESCO Nakuru Creative City alternative contact.
The event was punctuated with entertainment from Swahili drama, songs and poems in line with the theme of the event. The entertainers present were Ajira, Skynet, Big Africa, Mustard Seed International School and Carol Academy who performed songs, poems and drama in Swahili.
In acknowledgement of Kiswahili’s important significance, the Nakuru County Government’s Department of Culture and Tourism has developed a program to assist Kiswahili and other indigenous languages. The county is willing to work with major parties such as CHAKITA (Chama Cha Kiswahili Cha Taifa) on this endeavour.
The objective is to use Kiswahili to foster cultural interchange, knowledge sharing, and economic development among Kiswahili speakers worldwide, acknowledging the language’s importance in the digital age.
UN Swahili Language Day also known as Siku ya Kiswahili ya Umoja wa Mataifa is observed annually on 7 July. It began when the United Nations declared 7 July as Swahili Language Day in 2022.
On 7 July 1954, Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) leader Julius Kambarage Nyerere, the eventual first President of Tanzania, adopted the Swahili Language as a unifying language for African independence struggles.
Jomo Kenyatta, the first President of Kenya, followed suit and also used the Swahili language to mobilize and unify the people of Kenya in the struggle against colonialism through the use of the popular “Harambee” slogan.