Growing up in East Africa, specifically in Kenya, Swahili, or Kiswahili as we call it, was introduced to most of us concurrently with a mother tongue. As much as most of us are not native Swahili speakers, we have practically spoken the language since birth. As it happens, some take this beautiful language for granted, thinking that it makes you inferior. They have a mistaken view that the more fluent you are in English (or whichever post-colonial language one speaks), the more educated and sophisticated you look. A moment of silence for them.
They have a mistaken view that the more fluent you are in English (or whichever post-colonial language one speaks), the more educated and sophisticated you look.Naomi Kamau
Schools all over Africa went to the extent of punishing errant students, ‘errant’ because they spoke in Swahili or their mother tongue. ‘Errant’ because they used the language of their heart to express themselves – how saddening. The punishments varied but were all so demeaning. A student would be forced to wear a dirty sack or hang a badge around their necks written ‘I spoke vernacular’ until they found another student speaking in the vernacular and handed over the item of punishment. That was sad, but the narrative is changing.
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Change your perspective
What you value is what you protect, build and celebrate.