Swahili is first native African language to get Twitter recognition after protests

After many years of being referred to as Indonesian, social networking site Twitter has finally recognized Swahili as a language and offers a translation of the popular East and Southern African language.

Hi @MariaSTsehai, we’re so inspired by de many #Kiswahili speakers who tweet in their language. Now, more than ever, they can do so without worrying that de world will not “hear” them. @Twitter has finally heard us… de first native African language is now properly indexed here pic.twitter.com/QoriWyOeZD

— African Languages Day (@AfriLanguages) May 6, 2018

Since last week, Twitter began detecting the language in tweets and offers a close to perfect translation. The news has excited many speakers including the Kenyan government whose country recognises the lingua as a national language.

The recognition came after years of protest by Swahili speakers using hashtags #SwahiliIsNotIndonesian and #TwitterRecognizeSwahili to drive the message through.

However, the transition has not been fully completed and some Swahili speakers on Twitter are yet to appreciate the recognition.

Swahili is spoken by over 50 million people and it serves as the national language of four nations: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and DR Congo.

A fraction of the Bantu language has its vocabulary derived from Arabic as a result of contact with Arabic-speaking Muslim inhabitants.

Below are some mixed reactions to the Twitter recognition of Swahili:

This article by Ismail Akwei was first published on face2faceafrica.com

Published by Ismail Akwei

Ismail Akwei is an international journalist, digital media and communications professional, editor, writer, arts, culture and tourism advocate, human rights activist, pan-Africanist, tech enthusiast and history buff. He has worked with multinational media companies across Africa and has over a decade’s experience in journalism.

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