UNESCO wins accolades for  its role in promoting Kiswahili

14May 2022
Rose Mwalongo
The Guardian
UNESCO wins accolades for  its role in promoting Kiswahili

THE United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has won praise for its role to promote Kiswahili and dedicating a special date to celebrate the enchanting dialect.

During its 41st Session held in Paris, France in 2021, UNESCO declared 7 July of each year as World Kiswahili Language Day.

The UN agency has also been called upon to support the Tanzanian and Zanzibar’s Kiswahili Councils in their efforts to promote Kiswahili to become one of the international languages as is the case with English, French,Spanish among others..

Rajabu Kiswagala from the National Kiswahili Council (BAKITA) made the call in Bagamoyo yesterday during his contribution to the dialogue on the National Quadrennial Periodic Report on the UNESCO’s Convention 2005 on the Protection and Promotion of Diversity of Cultural Expressions. The United Republic of Tanzania submitted Periodic Report for the Convention in 2020. This report mentions the national situation of the cultural and creative industry in the development and implementation of the existing national plans and programmes as per the implementation of the convention.

Kiswagala hailed the initiatives made by the government of the United Republic of Tanzania and UNESCO, saying it was quite uplifting for the language adding “UNESCO could have done so for other African languages but they chose Kiswahili.”

“We also pay tribute to UNESCO for their efforts to translate the National Quadrennial Periodic Report on the implementation of the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Diversity of Cultural Expressions as it will help to relay the message to the majority of cultural and creative stakeholders and the public in general,” said the council’s official.

For her part, Bona Masenge from the National Arts Council (BASATA) hailed UNESCO for convening stakeholders within the arts and culture as the sector has a huge contribution to the national economy.

“Sessions like these are important as we now have a lot of opportunities for our artists to travel to other countries.  They need to learn how to scout them. Art can positively change one’s life,” stressed Masenge.

In another move, stakeholders have called upon the need to collect data to establish the great contribution made by the cultural and creative sectors to the country's economy.

The observation came during the dialogue on the quadrennial report submitted by Tanzania on its implementation of the UNESCO Convention 2005.

In his contribution, Hamisi Kimenya, Bagamoyo District Cultural Officer called upon the need for future reports to involve all stakeholders in the cultural and creative sector all the way to the grassroots level to ensure accuracy of data.

The copyright-based industries in Tanzania makes a significant contribution to the nation where according to the quadrennial report   in 2007-2010 it generated an added value of betweenTZS 391.635 and TZS 680.990 billion respectively, translating to a contribution of 3-4.6% to the gross domestic product (GDP).

The report further indicates that the sector generated TZS 38.930 billion and TZS 83.686 billion as income to employees, or a proportion of 2.8 and 5.2% of the total national economic value,and employed 28,202 and 44,331 people, or 4.5 and 5.7% of the total national workforce.

Meanwhile, the growth rate of the sector is  reported to have gone from 9.9% in 2017 to 13.7 in 2018 respectively.

The dialogue was organised by UNESCO with funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).