EDITORIAL: Kinyarwanda is a language without borders

The language debate has been hot again on social media; it is all about Kinyarwanda to be exact. Some years ago when the Rwanda Academy of Languages and Culture (RALC) was set up, the first thing it did was a media campaign correcting common mistakes in Kinyarwanda that had now taken root.

That was one very complicated venture as Kinyarwanda is spoken according to regions; they have unique terms and accents and trying to come up with a unifying Kinyarwanda is like building the tower of Babel.

RALC hit a dead end again when it came up with new writing forms which phonetically received a cold reception, especially on social media. Some simple piece of advice; RALC should forget the current generations who were conditioned for decades to speak in a certain style depending on their upbringing. Changing them is a waste of time.

It should instead get more implicated in the new government policy of using Kinyarwanda as a language of education from nursery to Primary Three, a stage in life where experts say makes it easier for children to learn reading and writing skills.

Even though some parents and private schools are opposing the policy, that is short-sightedness since Kinyarwanda is one of the widest spoken and understood language in the region.

In fact, it was a pleasant surprise to recently learn that Indiana University in the US will start teaching Kinyarwanda. Even though the state has a sizeable number of Rwandans, the school must have seen further than that; there is definitely something about this country that is enticing foreigners yet some Rwandans are trying to undermine their language.

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