Swahili Facebook Version Available
Article by George Norman
On 16 Jun 2009
Swahili is a language that is spoken in 8 African countries by tens of millions of people (but only 5 to 10 million speak it as their first language according to Wikipedia). With such a large number of Swahili speaking people, it is no wonder then that popular social networking site Facebook has formally released a Swahili version of the site.

It must be said that Facebook has grown in popularity in East and Central Africa over the past 5 years and since this is where most Swahili speakers live, it goes without saying that a Swahili version of Facebook was in much demand. But it is not the Facebook team itself that launched the project, it was a group of Swahili scholars that decided they could tackle the task of coming up with a Swahili-version of Facebook. And that’s precisely what they did, after asking permission from Facebook of course.


According to Symon Wanda, one of the Facebook in Swahili project initiators, the goal is to safeguard the future of the Swahili language. “The youth, the future generation, if you look at the biggest percentage of users on Facebook, they are the youth. They can easily navigate through when it's maybe a language they understand, which makes it easier to use the Swahili than to use the English,” said Wanda in an interview for BBC.

Initial reports have it that the Swahili version of Facebook is quite popular and 60% of existing users in East Africa have adopted it. Just to put things in perspective, the larger part of Swahili-speakers live in these areas: Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, some parts of the Horn of Africa, Malawi, Mozambique and the Indian Ocean islands.

Analysts predict that in the future a Hausa and a Zulu Facebook version could be launched to address the needs of West African and Southern African users.

Tags: FAcebook, Swahili, Africa
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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