You might be familiar with the very famous phrase “Hakuna Matata” from The Lion King, and that it means “no worries” or “no trouble” but what you might not know, is that it came from the Swahili (Kiswahili) language.
Or you might be familiar with Michael Jackson’s song Liberian Girl, where the African singer Letta Mbulu chanted “Nakupenda pia, Nakutaka pia, Mpenzi we'” which means “I love you too, I want you too, my love.” In Swahili.
You might wonder, what would I benefit from familiarizing myself or leaning the Swahili language? Well, we are here to enlighten you!
1- Kiswahili is a widely used language.
This might surprise you, but it is estimated that Swahili is spoken by more than 100 million individuals. That means more people speak the Swahili language than Korean or even Italian. Moreover, Swahili became the official language of the Eastern African colony of Germany in the 19th century, which is now known as Tanzania. Swahili language, which is part of the Bantu language family, has spread all across Africa, that it is considered the Lingua Franca of Africa.
2- Swahili as an official language.
Kiswahili is considered an official language of the African Union and the Eastern African Community. Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo choose it as their primary language. Politically, economically, and even socially, Kiswahili is a language of power. A deeper understanding of this rich language will result in deeper business relationships. As mentioned before, the Swahili language is the lingua franca of Africa, meaning it is spoken by people who do not speak any other native African languages.
3- It is important for trade in Africa.
The trade in Africa is low at this stage in time, it is partially caused by weak transport connections, which reduced the business and trade movements in Africa. Yet, the emergence of trading languages is going to help to facilitate communication between different countries and cultures. The Swahili language is granted to be one of the tools in the process to achieve that.
Nowadays, with the increase of Inter-African trade, foreign companies started engaging in trade and business dealings in Africa. African continents are ready to see increased growth. African languages, especially the Swahili language, will become a language that holds great power and is set to hold real influence.
4- The Swahili language and Education.
Kiswahili is being taught in many prestigious academic institutions, not just in Africa, but also in Europe, America, and even Asia. You can take Swahili as a topic of your study in leading universities like Harvard, Yale, and others. Swahili language plays an essential part in education in many African countries. In 1992, primary schools in Uganda made Swahili a mandatory taught subject. Swahili is also considered a compulsory subject to be taught in Kenyan schools and is also an academic discipline in some private as well as public universities. Having that in mind, the leaders of the next generations will most likely be speaking the Swahili language, it will be short-sighted to disregard Kiswahili any longer.
5- Swahili and Technology.
Soon, Kiswahili will be a language synonymous with IT and technology. To encourage national growth and improve the quality of life in African society, the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology in Kenya established science and technology academic programs. In addition to that, a lot of institutions are embracing approaches to integrate programs in science, engineering, humanities, and languages. In Africa, science and technology are now celebrated in an attempt to alleviate poverty, and many African countries are urging to incorporate science and technology into their development plans. Many universities are now seeking professionals to train students of science and technology fields in Kiswahili. The economy will expand as investments in IT infrastructure and online solutions are expanding in countries like Kenya that consider Kiswahili their official language.
The awareness and increased knowledge in Swahili will improve the reputation of researchers interested in Africa. Especially in areas like social media and digital knowledge that are growing, it will help them gain more insight into Africa’s emerging market. In that case, the search for proper and accurate knowledge will require you to have enough understanding of Swahili.
7- Swahili’s Diverse History:
As a result of the Swahili’s exposure to Arab merchants, a significant number of Swahili words were derived from Arabic vocabulary. Furthermore, it can be traced to the Swahili Muslim people who read the Quran. Some Swahili words were derived from Portuguese, English, French, German, and other languages as they came in contact with foreigners from these countries.