Background Information



Swahili is the most widely spoken language in Africa. The word "Swahili" is an Arabic word which means, "of (from) the coast" or "people of the coast". Scholars claim that Swahili is a combination of a number of languages. While the term "Swahili" has its origin from Arabic, Sahel or Sawahel, the language is referred to by the speakers as "Kiswahili." Swahili includes words borrowed from Arabic as well as many European languages.

Although the Swahili language is widely spoken in East Africa, the concentration is in towns scattered along the coastline. The following countries have Swahili speakers: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Zaire, Comorro, Oman, Congo, Madagascar, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and the Central African Republic.

Swahili is spoken in many countries and it is the national language of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Tanzania, however, through the efforts of its first President, Julius Kambarage Nyerere, was the one that took Swahili more seriously and made deliberate efforts for all the citizens to speak the language. Now in Tanzania everyone speaks Swahili unlike other countries. The Swahili language has thus become a very strong unifying force for the people of Tanzania.




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