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Swahili makes history as first African language recognized by Twitter

After years of hashtags and outcries, Twitter now recognizes Swahili, one of East Africa’s most common languages. The social media platform now offers translation for the language spoken by tens of millions in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and some parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Most African languages for the past decade and over of social media platform Twitter’s existence have been referred to as Indonesian in terms of translation.

That has changed with Twitter’s official recognition of Swahili as a language. It became the first African language to achieve that accomplishment. Swahili is however yet to be added in the language settings of Twitter.

The network now recognizes Swahili words and offers translation of the widely spoken and written East and Southern African language.

Since last week, Twitter kick started detection of the language in tweets and subsequently offers a close to perfect translation as with most other foreign languages.

Kenya Ministry of Sports and Heritage joined Twitter users to celebrate the feat. “Kiswahili which is widely used in East Africa, is Kenya’s national language & it unites the people of Kenya,” the tweet said in part.

But like all google translate efforts, some translations have fallen short of the import of what is meant. But for all it is worth, it positions Swahili as a fore runner in the area.

Experts say that the language is spoken by more than 50 million people especially in East Africa – it is listed as national language of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. People in parts of the DR Congo also speak Swahili.

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