Thursday, 30 January 2014

THINKING CRITICALLY: Criminalising Kiswahili in aviation

From The Citizen Daily, Dar es Salaam
By Dr Azaveli Lwaitama

A sad incident was witnessed at Mwanza airport last Sunday, and left one wondering about the extent to which the struggle for self-determination and full human dignity for peoples of African ancestry is still unfinished business. In essence, the incident seems to be an illustration of the extent to which advocacy for the use of Kiswahili as an international aviation language may, absurdly, lead to one being treated as a criminal.

An airhostess with a local airline threw off the plane a passenger whose “crime” was to politely ask why instructions to passengers sitting next to emergency doors could not be given in Kiswahili. In this incident, the airhostess did actually have her egoistic wish realised and the passenger, who incidentally has been a teacher of English for the better part of his adult life, was unceremoniously bundled off the plane minutes before takeoff.

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