Give an account of the origin and present-day use of an African Lingua franca.
A lingua franca is a language created to facilitate communication between different ethnic groups. The most well-established definition for lingua franca was made by UNESCO: "A language which is used habitually by people whose mother tongues are different in order to facilitate communication between them" (UNESCO, 1953). In this essay, I will concentrate on how Swahili became the dominant lingua franca in the East of Africa and how it has evolved over the years, specially regarding its use in education.
Swahili is spoken in many areas of central and eastern Africa. It acts as the national language in Tanzania, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as an official language of the African Union. It is also widely spoken in Uganda, although it was only considered a national language during Idi Amin's regime. It is also spoken in, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and the Comoro Islands. However, it is very difficult to know the number of people who speak Swahili. The estimated amount is between 50 and 100 million people, considering it is spoken mainly as a second language and it is extremely difficult to track and take a record of the people who speak it in so many different countries.
Swahili appeared as a common language for communication between different ethnic groups of Bantu languages (Niger-Congo language family) and Arab and Persian traders that established in the coastal area of Eastern Africa and originated the Swahili civilization during the 8th to the 12th centuries. The expansion of trade and administration was facilitated using this common language. Furthermore, these traders would not use their own language to communicate with what they considered lower classes. Swahili was to be used to communicate with the local governing elites, the Persian, Indian and Arab traders and the native population.
The usage of Swahili has been incredibly important in the last centuries. To the Muslim traders, Portugal started establishing regular trading posts in the 16th century on the coast of East Africa, and other European countries entered the area in the 19th century as explorers and missionaries, and would finally colonize East Africa until the mid-20th century. English language, like Portuguese before, also contributed with words to the vocabulary of Swahili. Furthermore, it is important to explore the use of the English language since colonial times to be able to explain the existing use of Swahili as a lingua franca in an East African country, especially considering its great impact on education and politics that it has had all over Africa. English greatly contributed to the evolution of Swahili.
Swahili was used as a vernacular language on the east coast of Africa and had been evolving over time because of the continuous contact with Arabic and Persian traders. Many words were taken into th...