South Africa may just be the latest country on the African continent to speak the East African lingua franca language, Swahili. There are plans to introduce the language as one of the optional subjects in schools in SA.
The History of Swahili
Swahili traces its roots from the coastal Bantu-speaking natives along the East African coast, who intermarried with the Arab settlers. It is believed the Arabs and the Bantu crossed paths from as early as before the 10th Century, AD.
From the coastal strips, the language spread interior through trade, missionary works, and the quest to explore the mainland further. Currently, it is the most widely spoken language in East Africa that has roots from Africa. As a lingua franca, a language spoken by different ethnic groups who don’t speak each others’ native mother tongue, it has been established as the national language in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.
It is also the official language of the East African Community (EAC) made up of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan. Swahili has also made some inroads across central, western, and southern Africa.