Language & Politics

Language and Politics

In the post-colonial context of events, the Swahili language became intertwined with political decisions and developments in many ways.  Perhaps most importantly for the spread of the language, it became the official language in the nation states of both Kenya and Tanzania.  Julius K. Nyerere, President of Tanzania from 1961 to 1985, made various efforts to promote the language during his presidency.  He preferred to give important political speeches in Swahili.  He also translated several Shakespearean plays into Swahili (which are not included in the KU holdings).  In the Kenyan context, poetry collections praising the presidencies of Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi were compiled and published.  It is clear from these selections that poetry was indeed a means of expression that served to legitimize and strengthen their roles as leaders of the country. 

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