Swahili becomes the first African language to be recognised by Twitter

Since last week, Twitter kick-started detection of the language in tweets and subsequently offers a close to perfect translation as with most other foreign languages.

  • Swahili is the first African language to be recognised by Twitter.
  • Swahili, also known as Kiswahili is a Bantu language and the first language of the Swahili people.
  • it is the national language of four nations and spoken by over 150 million people.

The US-based social networking site has bowed to pressure that has been piling up for years and formally added the capability to detect Swahili words in tweets and to translate them, effectively making Swahili the first African language to be recognized by Twitter.

An elated Brand Kenya, a team that markets Kenya abroad, Thursday tweeted a celebratory tweet taking time to savor in the victory that is sure to open the floodgates for other African languages to be recognized as well.

“We made noise, a lot of noise; regarding #SwahiliIsNotIndonesian and #TwitterRecognizeSwahili. We take this earliest opportunity to say thank you to Twitter for listening. Thank you for recognising Swahili,” Brand Kenya tweeted.

Swahili, also known as Kiswahili is a Bantu language and the first language of the Swahili people, it is the national language of four nations: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, (DRC) and spoken by over 150 million people.

It is a lingua franca of the African Great Lakes region and other parts of eastern and south-eastern Africa, including Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique, DR Congo and as far as Comoros Islands.

Though not originally spoken in Rwanda, the country couldn’t resist the Swahili bug and last year Rwandan parliament passed an organic law that established Swahili as an official language in the former French colony in line with the East Africa community policy.

The pressure to have Twitter recognise Swahili peaked in April, with Swahili speakers and linguists alike arguing its stature as a language spoken by millions of people should have it recognised.

Frustrated Kenyans and Swahili speakers across the globe started a movement to have the language recognized, they took to Twitter calling for recognition of Swahili using the #SwahiliIsNotIndonesian and #TwitterRecognizeSwahili hashtags and Twitter heard them loud and clear.

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