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Why July 7 was selected to be World Kiswahili Day

#SikuYaKiswahili - How Kenya marked first International Kiswahili language Day

Siku ya Lugha ya Kiswahili duniani [Photo: UNESCO]

Tourism CS Najib Balala on Thursday led the country in marking World Kiswahili Day, celebrating a language spoken by over 200 million people in the world.

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Following a declaration by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Kiswahili language Day will be marked every July 7 with the 2022 celebration having been the first.

Kiswahili is the first African language to be recognised in such a manner by the UN.

The Ministry of Tourism organised a formal event at the KICC which was followed by an evening gala at the National Museum.

CS Balala wished Kenyans a happy Kiswahili language day and urged them to be proud of the language.

"Today is a historic day because UNESCO member states declared 7th July as world Swahili day, this is our pride because our African language has been acknowledged by the United Nations," said Balala.

Balala also has praised Kiswahili stating that it is a mixture of languages from different fields of different countries.

Mvita MP Abdullswamad Nassir, joining in the celebrations, noted that the acknowledgement on a global scale is a win for Swahili speakers.

"Today is an important day, in that, besides the language, it is the source of different cultures, so today is the day to be happy and proud because it has been acknowledged," said Nassir.

The lawmaker also highlighted that most of the House rules in Parliament are written in Kiswahili and most of the debates and are brainstorming is done in Kiswahili.

Kiswahili is one of the most widely used languages of the African family, and the most widely spoken in sub-Saharan Africa. It is among the 10 most widely spoken languages in the world, with more than 200 million speakers.

The July 7 date was arrived at after considering key events that happened in Tanzania and Kenya.

July 7 was the day in 1954 that Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) under the late Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere - First President of the United Republic of Tanzania - adopted Kiswahili as a unifying language for independence struggles.

UNESCO also noted that Mzee Jomo Kenyatta used the Kiswahili language through the use of the popular “Harambee” slogan in mobilizing the people of Kenya in the struggle against colonialism.

In addition, on July 7, 2000, the East African Community (EAC) was re-established to rekindle the spirit of cooperation and integration among the East African people of the United Republic of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda where Kiswahili language is widely spoken. Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan later joined the EAC and are now members.

In Kenyan politics, July 7, 1990 was also a significant day because of the famous 'Saba Saba' movement in Kenya. On that day, a historic match to advocate free elections was held following a rally at the Kamukunji Grounds and the arrest of key opposition leaders.

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