Swahili has been adopted as an official working language for the African Union by its Heads of State.
The announcement was made in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, during the African Union’s Assembly of Heads of State and Government.
The approval follows a proposal from Tanzanian Vice President Philip Mpango, who said that Swahili is spoken by over 100 million people in Africa, making it one of the continent’s most commonly spoken languages, according to the 55 member nations of the continental union.
“Kiswahili is already in use in various communities including the East African Community (EAC), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as well as a teaching language in many African countries,” he said.
World Kiswahili Language Day is celebrated on July 7 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The language, which originated in East Africa, was acknowledged by UNESCO as the continent’s first dialect.
According to the United Nations, Swahili speakers can be found in more than 14 countries, including Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan, Somalia, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Comoros, and even Oman and Yemen in the Middle East, according to reports.