Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize together with the Dean and Head of the School of Arts, Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa and UKZN Press Director, Dr Phindile Dlamini recently travelled to Tanzania to participate and celebrate in the World’s first Kiswahili Language Day.
Kiswahili is considered one of the top 10 most spoken languages in the world with more than 200 million people in Africa and the Middle East speaking it. Kiswahili is also one of the working languages of the African Union (AU) and of the South African Development Community (SADC).
‘We were invited to participate in the celebrations due to the School of Arts having an existing MoU with the Institute of Kiswahili Studies (IKS) at the University of Dar es Salaam. It was emotional to see people celebrating their indigenous language freely and being proud of their heritage,’ said Hlongwa. ‘The teaching of Kiswahili had begun in 2013 in the College, however, due to factors related to permits for lecturers, it was put on hold. But we have resuscitated the teaching of Kiswahili and it is going strong. The initiative to teach Kiswahili aligns with the vision and mission of the University and realisation of United Nations’ Sustainable Development goals 2030 and the African Union’s agenda 2063.’
Mkhize added: ‘UKZN, as a Premier University of African Scholarship, is proud to be a Southern African Institution that teaches a language that forges African identity and unity. The teaching of Kiswahili at UKZN is strengthening the teaching and learning, research and community engagements that the University has built with other institutions in Europe, Asia, America and Africa. It is critical for Pan Africanism and continental integration.’
The delegation then met with the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dar es Salaam, Professor William-Andey Anangisye and members of the Kiswahili Institute to discuss further collaborations, research and exchange programmes.
The delegation also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between South African Minister of Basic Education, Dr Angie Motshekga, and Tanzanian Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Professor Adolf Mkenda to formalise the teaching of Kiswahili in South African schools.
‘The College of Humanities has positioned itself to contribute to materials development for schools such as a Kiswahili isiZulu-English Dictionary and for the training of educators to teach Kiswahili. We are excited about taking this forward,’ said Dlamini.