Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

East Africa: EALA Members Call for Kiswahili As EAC Lingua Franca

A CROSS-SECTION of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) on Thursday called for the reviewing of the EAC treaty and make Kiswahili the lingua franca of the trading bloc.

Regional lawmakers made the request during the ongoing EALA session taking place in Arusha. They said that time has come for Kiswahili to be one of main languages of the EAC.

Tanzanian EALA member, Shyrose Bhanji called for the establishment of a mechanism for reaching out to the people of East Africa, as well as to promote and espouse the fundamental principles of the Community.

She said uplifting Kiswahili as the key language for the regional bloc will help to speed-up regional integration. Bhanji proposed for review of the regional treaty, for the decision makers to be fair to East Africans who are more than 130 million in number.

"In all the five partner States, Kiswahili is widely spoken, but I don't know why we stick to English, in various EALA and EAC platforms," said Peter Muthuki, an EALA member from Kenya.

He said Kiswahili is widely spoken in Tanzania and Kenya and other countries like Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi are willing to speak the language.

"It is high-time for the regional bloc to recognise Kiswahili as the official language," the EALA member stressed.

Guided by the Nanyuki VII series report which was tabled and adopted by the House in October last year, Ugandan lawmaker, Mike Sebalu said that the Nanyuki VII series were unique and that it would give all key players an opportunity to positively engage on matters of integration.

He also said that there is need to teach Kiswahili across the region. If the use of the language is implemented, the move will be a major turning point in the process of EAC integration and free movement of human resource in the region.

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