English could cease being Kenya’s official language

By Irene Githinji On Sun, 20 Oct, 2019 13:18 | 2 mins read
swahili
BBI team proposes that it be made mandatory for all official government documents to be published in Kiswahili. PHOTO | SCREENGRAB

English could cease being Kenya’s official language in favour of Kiswahili, if Kenyans adopt recommendations by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) task force.

In its draft report, the team formed in the aftermath of March, 2018 handshake, proposes that it be made mandatory for all official government documents to be published in Kiswahili.

According to the BBI team, the move would complement efforts to ensure national ethos are entrenched in the life of Kenyans.

The Constitution recognises Kiswahili and English as the official languages of country, while Kiswahili is the national language.

The team was, however, divided on whether Article 7(2) of the Constitution should be amended to make Kiswahili the official language and another clause be introduced, making English the second international language.

Kenya’s history Other recommendation include making Kiswahili the medium of learning at all levels of education, in addition to teaching authentic Kenya’s history which should be made a compulsory subject in both primary and secondary schools.

The report listed national ethos as patriotism, sharing, social justice, promotion of national language, non-discrimination and gender and inter-generational equity.

The ethos, the team argues, provide a moral compass which inhibits harmful acts towards others in society and in the performance of duty, both in public and private sectors.

“There is need to make negative stereotyping, hate speech, and all forms of ethnic, gender, racial and disability-based discrimination offences punishable by law,” reads the report in part.

“It is the known, accepted, shared, predictable and expected way of relating to one another and doing things. When someone meets a Kenyan anywhere that person should be able to immediately know that she or he is dealing with a Kenyan.”

The BBI team called for the review of Article 10 of the Constitution to strongly promote national values and development of a Sessional Paper on national culture and heritage.

Teeth to bite There is also need to revise the mandate of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) to give it more teeth to bite, the team proposes.

Also among BBI team’s recommendations is establishment of an annual “Kenya week” to promote a national dress, abolishment of quota system in school and college admission as well as promotion of national art.