Towards the modernization of the national language of Burundi, Kirundi

On Monday, January 7, 2018, the Center for Language Education in Burundi (Celab) and the Burundian Center for Reading and Cultural Animation (Cebulac), organized, under the leadership of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research,  a reflection workshop on the modernization of Kirundi.

Burundian writers will be supported

In his address, Minister Gaspard Banyankimbona thanked the two centers CELAB and CEBULAC for initiating this conference. He also stressed the importance of the language in the life of the country and said that Kirundi is among the heritage of Burundian ancestors. According to him, the Kirundi should be protected from other languages with which it is confused like Igiha, Ikinyankore, Ikinyarwanda etc.

For this reason, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research indicates that the Government of Burundi is ready to support any writer who can write about different aspects of the country or himself in the national language. “A publishing house that meets international standards will be open soon to support these writers,” he added.

The challenges of the national language

Jean Bosco Nzigamiye, Director of the CEBULAC Center, showed in his presentation the challenges that haunt Kirundi language and calls for awareness. ” the Kirundi should be taken back by the Burundians themselves. The language needs to be well fed, otherwise it could disappear like some languages in the world, “he added.

The Kirundi can be improved.

According to Patrice Ntafatiro, a Burundian researcher living in Canada and host of the program Ikirundi c’Abarundi, tried to improve the Kirundi by bringing the names to the different accents used. For him, the accents of Kirundi “utwatuzo” as discovered by the priest Jean Baptiste Ntahokaja and Mayugi had no names. He then presented two accents of his discovery as a complement to the work of Ntahokaja and Mayugi. In addition, He gave some examples of new words found as “Uburonzi” (research) to replace “Ubushakashatsi” which is not Kirundi.

Linking Kirundi and ICTs is possible

Edmond-Aimé Kabushemeye-Nkinzo is a young computer scientist who has just adapted the computer keyboard with Kirundi accents. “This creation named Rwandiko will now be accessible through software.”I managed to create a keyboard layout that was good for our mother tongue. I hope that it will encourage the transmission of the history and other works of Burundian writers to other generations of which I am a part who have difficulty using Kirundi at this time “he added.

Ambassador Willy Nyamitwe returned to the role of the Universal Service Fund for ICTs (FSU) that he leads, whose mission is to popularize the technology among the population. According to him, Kirundi should have a place in particular in software or in browsers such as Google. This will have to be a task for Burundian researchers to reach the goal.

The conference ended with ideas raised by various stakeholders such as university professors. To this end, several conferences bringing together the various researchers will be organized with the aim of saving the Kirundi.

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