The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Speak Kiswahili, Njonjo Tells Youth in Central Province

Former Attorney General Charles Njonjo has urged Kikuyu youth to speak more Kiswahili to improve their proficiency in the language. He said the Agikuyu have a problem pronouncing some letters such as 'l' which they substitute with 'r'. Njonjo is known to have a passion for the Queen's English and aristocratic mannerisms.

He was speaking during a prize giving day at Kirangari High school in Kiambu county where he urged the old boys of the school to join hands to help the school regain its lost glory. "It is important and you must know Kiswahili because it will help you with your problems of pronunciation of 'r'. Kikuyu langauge has no 'l' and you will find somebody saying I am "reading" instead of I am "leading", said Njonjo. He added: "Kikuyu is used at home but it's not a national or international language. But when you speak Kiswahili, it will help you improve your English."

Njonjo recalled an occasion when he was travelling to London and a hostess, who was Kikuyu was issuing orders in English with heavy mother tongue interference saying he felt He said that he felt ashamed and disheartened. "I was once going to London and the lady who was issuing orders said in the plane, 'ridies' (instead of ladies) and gentlemen we are about to 'rand' (instead of land) and that will be communicated once we arrive in the country," said Njonjo sending the congregation into laughter.

He urged the students to embrace cleanliness and mannerisms in and outside the school, adding that it will boost their image. "The English man once said that cleanliness is next to Godliness. So, do not forget to tie your ties and keeping yourself neat. That is where discipline comes from and there is a promise that we shall have a better generation," said Njonjo. He criticised parents who fail to attend school meetings saying it shows their lack of interest in the children's education. He urged parents to be more active in school activities.

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