Dr. Mahiri Mwita Rais

Mahiri Mwita, PhD
Chaukidu President
Princeton University

The inauguration of GHAUKIDU (Chama cha Ukuzaji  wa Kiswahili Duniani) is a major step for Kiswahili enthusiasts, including teachers, students, businesses engaged in tourism, journalists, technologists, and many others. CHAUKIDU’s mission is to unite all Kiswahili enthusiasts all over the world to allow the promotion and sustainability of the language worldwide. Through this endeavor, Kiswahili will be able to occupy its rightful place among major world languages

For those who reside in the United States, you are aware of the fact that Kiswahili has gained a strong reputation. It is one of the major subjects taught in more than a hundred colleges and universities. Kiswahili was the first African languages to be introduced in University curriculum around the country following an Act of the American Congress (1958) that was associated with national security. This Act of Congress allowed Kiswahili to attain a special place in College curricula. Henceforth, efforts have been made to ensure that Kiswahili is promoted and sustained.

In many universities, Kiswahili is a language of choice for many students interested in African languages and African studies. The choice is enhanced by a graduation requirement for students to study at least one language which is not one of their mother tongues. Kiswahili has always occupied the first place in the choice of African languages selected by students. This phenomenon is not unique to the United States. Europe and Asia has taken a liking to Kiswahili. Those who listen to foreign radio broadcasts will have experienced BBC Swahili (out of England), Radio Deutsche Welle (out of Germany), Voice of America (out of the United States), Voice of Gospel (Addis Ababa) and TV China (out of China). These TV and radio broadcasts target Kiswahili enthusiasts and other speakers of the language both in Africa and the Diaspora.

In the continent of Africa, the boundaries of Kiswahili are not confined to East Africa or the East Coastal States. Pocket of Kiswahili can be found in southern Africa. Ghana is one of the West African countries that has been promoting Kiswahili as far back as 1961. The University of Ghana, Legon has been teaching Kiswahili since 1961. It has incorporated Kiswahili in its curriculum and students can obtain a Ph.D. majoring in Kiswahili.  These are encouraging achievements that Kiswahili enthusiasts should consider seriously as we explore the many different ways to promote and sustain the place of Kiswahili in the world. The rapid growth and development of Kiswahili is a sign to all of us that Kiswahili can and will take its rightful place among major world languages.

Thus, our work is cut out. Each one of has a place, opportunity, and responsibility to contribute to the mission of CHAUKIDU. We have to look at Kiswahili as a plant that needs care, nourishment, and protection from the harsh realities that can affect its place with the major languages of the World. The fruits of our labor will be determined by our willingness to take very good care of Kiswahili and its culture. I strongly encourage those who have not joined CHAUKIDI to do so immediately and seize the opportunity to introduce themselves to the Board and volunteer in any capacity for the many planned short term and long term activities of CHAUKIDU.

The Board has the responsibility of making sure that all members are involved in any and all of CHAUKIDI activities; especially annual meetings and conferences, conversations/debates about major issues; publications (books and journals), technology, and other critical matters intended to promote and sustain the development of Kiswahili.

I Warmly Welcome Each and Every One of You.