Kiswahili gets official SADC status


The lingua franca of Eastern Africa, Kiswahili, popularised by movies such as The Lion King and familiar for phrases like “hakuna matata” (no worries), has formally been adopted as the first indigenous official language by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

In addition to English, French and Portuguese, SADC now has four languages recognised and used as tools for administrative purposes.

A statement issued yesterday after the announcement said: “Kiswahili will be adopted at the level of council and summit, first as a language for oral communication, before eventually being adopted for written official communication within SADC.”

Dr David Maahlemela, chair of the Pan South African Language Board, said: “This milestone achievement towards recognition and elevation of indigenous African languages across the SADC region forms part of the greater effort in ensuring development, usage and intellectualisation of our heritage languages.”

The linguistic leap follows soon after heads of state announced their mutual intention to elevate Kiswahili at the recently held 39th SADC summit.

The announcement also comes as very good news in particular for the freight industry in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda, where Kiswahili is spoken by more than 100 million people.


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