Meeting the information needs of people who speak Kiswahili

7 October, 2021

Dear HIFA community leaders and friends of HIFA, greetings from Tanzania.

For your information from what has been going on the ground in Tanzania since early 1960s to the present, the fight of three interrelated public scourges limiting the majority of Kiswahili speakers to enjoy decent livelihoods namely: 'ignorance - especially ignorance of the best and cost-effective ways they should use to take care of themselves against preventable diseases such as malaria, diarrhea, malnutrition, undesired lifestyles including misuse of the little cash they earn due to lack of basic financial intelligence (FI), financial strategic plans (FP), and financial discipline (FD); and abject poverty which limit them to take care of themselves and their beloved ones with more confidence, has not been easy partly due to language barriers.

For instance, strategic discussions we have been making on diverse issues including the recent COVID-19 virus in English, very few Kiswahili speakers have been following them up leave alone daring to make any contribution during ongoing discussions.

As a professional medical librarian trained in the North, where the "love of reading books" had been emphasized since early childhood in every home, in most homes in the South this has not been the case. Consequently, very few public pre-primary schools have a children's library. Public primary and secondary schools with a school library are rare.

Library users using public libraries found mostly in urban areas, and academic and specialized libraries are well positioned to follow up ongoing discussions we are making, but the rest of common citizenry are unaware of what is going on, which is shared and disseminated using English and other foreign languages.

In this context, the above subject refers for discussion and deliberation of what can be done to arrest the prevailing situation among Kiswahili speakers.

It can be done, let each one of us empathize with our fellow men and women marginalized by the contemporary mode of discussions.

Best regards comrades,

Jackton Kaijage

HIFA profile: Jackton L Kaijage, M.Lib. (Information Systems and Services for Health Care), PG Dip. in Librarianship (University of Wales, Aberystywyth, UK), B.Ed. (Teachers' Education) (Hons.) (University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania), Grade IIIA Teaching Certificate (Morogoro Teachers' Training College, Morogoro, Tanzania). Mr. Kaijage is the Chief Librarian, Kibaha Public Library (KPL), Directorate of Education Services (DES), Kibaha Education Centre (KEC). He is also involved in doing research carried out by KEC and facilitating short courses designed by KEC in view to address development problems namely: ignorance; diseases and poverty. He often offers Kiswahili to English and English to Kiswahili translation services. He is a HIFA Country Representative for Tanzania.

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