As part of the implementation of the Dar es Salaam Framework of Action for Kiswahili as a working language of the African Union and a language of wider communication in Africa, the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN) is organizing a regional consultative meeting in Kigali on 10-11 May 2022.
ACALAN is the African Union’s specialized institution mandated to develop and promote African languages as a factor of African integration and development.
The Kigali meeting is aimed at
- Developing and validating a reference framerwork for partnership with regional language organisations, institutions and stakeholders in the Kiswahili-speaking area, and on the strategy to be adopted in the implementation of the Dar es Salaam Framerork for Action;
- Developing an action plan for the implementation of the Dar es Salaam framework for action;
- Settting up a regional committee for the follow-up and implementation of the recommendations of the regional meeting;
- Setting up a resource mobilisation commitee for the implementation of the Dar es Salaam Framework of Action.
What is the Dar es Salaam Framework of Action?
The Dar es Salaam Framework of Action for the recognition of Kiswahili as a language of wider communication in Africa was prepared in 2019 by ACALAN based in Bamako, Mali, with the aim of having Member States of the African Union to recognize and promote Kiswahili and a language of wider communication in Africa as a factor of Africa’s integration and sustainable development.
An internation meeting was convened by ACALAN-AU in Dar es Salaam from 26-28 June 2019 bringing together African experts and specialists of the Kiswahili languages, representatives of ACALAN national structures in the Member States of the African Union in which Kiswahili is spoken; representatives of East African Kiswahili Commission (KAKAMA), the UNESCO office in Tanzania, the Global Association for the Promotion of Kiswahili (CHAUKIDU) and Kiswahili media.
The Kiswahili Framework of Action was expressed in the following terms:
- Meeting in Dar-es-Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania, from 26 to 28 June 2019, we, the participants at the Consultative Meeting on the Promotion of Kiswahili as a Language of Wider Communication in Africa, commit ourselves to the recognition and promotion of Kiswahili as a language of integration and sustainable development of Africa.
- This Dar-es-Salaam Framework is a call for collective commitment to action of Member States of the African Union as a necessity to ensure that Article 25 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union is made possible. This is a desire that can be realized through collaborative partnership of those charged with the responsibility of the development and use of African languages in Member States, and co-operation with Regional
Economic Communities (RECs), international organiszations, agencies
and institutions, civil society and language interest groups.
- We re-affirm the vision of the African Union (AU) as expressed in the African Union Agenda 2063, the Charter for African Cultural Renaissance, the statues of the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN); the Language Plan of Action for Africa (2006), the Harare Inter-Governmental Conference (1997) and the Decade for Education in Africa (1997-2006), supported by the Reports on Sub-Saharan Africa (1989), the African Charter for Popular Participation in Development and Transformation (1990) to promote the development and use of African languages for a Peaceful, Prrosperous and Integrated Africa; and the declaration by the African Union of 2006 as the Year of African Languages demonstrates Pan-African political willingness to integrate African Languages in the integration and development of the Continent.
- We acknowledge and appreciate the commitments made by the African Union and the East African Community to underscore the fact that sustainable development will not be possible without harnessing African languages in a practical manner, and call for empowerment of African languages by bringing knowledge and information to people in the languages they know best and are close to. We further acknowledge that the establishment of the East African Kiswahili Commission by the Summit of Heads of State of the East African Community (EAC) shows commitment of leadership of the Regional Economic Community to harmonize the development and use of Kiswahili for regional integration and sustainable development. The growth prospects for Kiswahili is favoured by the ongoing continental integration initiatives as envisioned in Agenda 2063 of the African Union, particularly with the entry into force in 2019 of the African Cotinental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
- The United Nations (UN) and its agencies have participated in shaping African languages, including Kiswahili. The UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights (UDLR) are among the milestones that have impacted Kiswahili. Other important documents such as the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the Universal Declaration of the Collective Rights of Peoples and the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL2019) proclaimed by resolution 71/178 of the United Nation’s General Assembly, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s insistence on the importance of culture in development and significance of language in general all have a bearing on the development and promotion of the use of African languages in general and Kiswahili in particular. The Pan-African Cultural Manifesto (UNESCO, 1969) that was developed with the support from UNESCO discusses the realities of African culture in general, and languages in particular, emphasizing its role in the economic and social development of the continent.
- We recognize that language is a fundamental dimension of culture and society, and hence it should be an integral part of the strategies designed to achieve sustainable development. We further recognize that language is key to sustainable development and peace and stability within and amongst Member States of the African Union, and is thus an indispensable means for effective participation of the people in their societies and economies. The Dakar Plan of Action for the Development of Cultural Industries in Africa (1992) adopted a strategy of coordinating policies of culture, languages, education and
communication for development.
- We recognize that the language question for African integration and development heralds a new approach for integration and development more consistent with current global trends where language is considered an important institution that deserves serious consideration. We further recognize that the future of the AU and Regional Economic Blocs calls for new approaches not limited to traditional forms of market integration alone. And therefore efforts to achieve integration and sustainable development should be combined with the need to promote a common
language of wider communication.
- The recognition and promotion of Kiswahili as a Language of Wider Communication in Africa involves not only initiating a transformation on the continent and within individual Member States, but also giving content to the transformation by reforming and innovating policies and programmes governing the language. As a common language, Kiswahili can and should be in the lead in the process of the evolution of an African common identity and self-awareness based upon shared interests and values. The Kiswahili language should widen people’s choices through greater sharing of experience and learning in the region. African citizens should not just be recipients of information, but they ought to be active agents of their own development and generators of their knowledge. Through Kiswahili the people of Africa will be given the capacity to mobilize and dialogue with one another in solidarity and cooperation, and in the spirit of African integration and development.
- The recognition and promotion of Kiswahili as a Language of Wider Communication depends on popular support and full and effective participation of the people of Africa. Community awareness, responsibility and cooperative efforts are absolutely vital for the development and promotion of the use of Kiswahili are crucial and necessary for the realoisation of the objectives of Agenda 2063. Kiswahili has been and continues to be part and parcel of Africa’s struggle for liberation and and quest for integration and development. A language of wider communication in Africa has been in vogue since the colonial eras buoyed on by Pan-Africanism movement in search for African identity and development. Kiswahili is now assuming new roles in Africa that make its promotion strategic. Current approaches to the development and use of Kiswahili are a pragmatic response to global and local needs and the desire at various levels of the African society to greater holistic cooperation on the recognition and promotion of Kiswahili.
Click here to read the Dar es Salaam Framework of Action in its entirety.
Rwanda adopted Kiswahili as the fourth official language in April 2017 after Kinyarwanda, French and English.
With the initiative, help and guidance of ACALAN Kiswahili Commissioner for Rwanda who is a long time lecturer of mass communication and writer, Professor Malonga Pacifique, Rwandan Kiswahili speaking journalists started the Rwanda Kiswahili Journalists Association (WAKIRWA) now under registration process.
The African Academy of Languages (ACALAN) is a Pan-African organization founded in 2001 by Mali’s then-president Alpha Oumar Konaré, under the auspices of the African Union, for the harmonization of Africa’s many spoken languages.
ACALAN fosters Africa’s integration and development through the development and promotion of the use of African languages in all domains of life in Africa.
The academy seeks to empower African languages, promote use of multiple languages at every level, especially in the education sector and to ensure the development and promotion of African languages as factors of African integration and development, respect for values and mutual understanding and peace.
Author: Janvier Nshimyumukiza Popote