Photo: An audience at an event celebrating Sebha Universityís 25th anniversary
University of Sebha Celebrates its 25th Anniversary by Focusing on Swahili, Fulani and Hausa Languages
As at the political, economic and social levels, Libya remains rather focused on integrating the African continent not only by being the initiator of the African Union which is moving ahead to become one of the major blocks in the world but also in terms of cultural aspects such as the promotion of African languages in Libya and the rest of North Africa.
The University of Sebha, one of the biggest and oldest universities in Libya, last week on the 15th of April celebrated a Quarter of a Century of teaching African languages at the University.
The 25th year commemoration has been organized by the Faculty of Arts, Department of Languages and African Studies.
The languages currently taught at the University of Sebha include Swahili, Fulani and Hausa.
The celebrations were organized by a joint effort of the University's teaching staff and that of the students of various languages.
During the one day long occasion that was held at the University's premises, several activities were also organized. Some of these activities included the presentations of various academic papers with topics relating to the teachings of African languages in Libya.
Mr. Ibrahim El-hadi Mohammed was among the Libyans who presented a paper in Kiswahili, entitled Problems Facing Swahili Book writers in Libya.
During his presentation he noted, "For the success of teaching African languages in Libya, the Ministry of Education has the responsibility of organizing the publication of various books from university to primary level."
The invited guests and participants of the workshop also had a chance to visit the students' cultural exhibitions which displayed several African literatures, newspapers published in Swahili and Hausa languages and some other reading materials.
African music was also played as part of students' efforts of trying to create a typical African atmosphere for those visiting the exhibition.
True to their efforts, on the celebration day, the general University's atmosphere transformed and gave the participants an African touch.
In fact some of those attending the workshop including both Libyan parents who had accompanied their children to the festive and the indigenous of some African languages were left almost spellbound by some of the Libyan students' ability to converse fluently in the African languages.
However, among all the three African languages that are currently taught at the University, Swahili language seems to be enjoying the popularity of the day with majority of students showing their zeal in Swahili.
Swahili is one of the most spoken African languages in the world with over two hundred million speakers, this is according to recent findings.
It is also the official language of the African Union.
The Department of Languages and African Studies has currently registered a total number of one hundred and thirty Libyan students in Swahili language unlike in Hausa which has only thirty students so far.
The University currently boasts itself for having produced two Libyans among its teaching staff with Ph.D in Swahili.
Although Dr. Idris Hassan Al-Mahdy, Head of Department of Languages and African Studies at the University of Sebha was quick to say that, the journey has never been all that easy especially when the African languages were introduced.
"In 1984 people were surprised to see students learning African languages but after the graduation of the first group, Swahili started spreading everywhere, and now we have students coming deep from the village simply to learn the African languages," explained Dr. Al- Mahdy.
The workshop was officially opened by Dr. Mohammed Arruhuma, the University's Deputy Vice Chancellor.
Aso present during the opening ceremony were Dr.Hassan Al-Bashir Dean of Faculty of Arts, Dr. Jamal Al- Zwei, Dean of Faculty of Engineering, Dr. Khalifa Misbah, Dean Faculty of Science, Dr. Idris Hassan Al-Mahdy, Head of Department of Languages and African studies, Dr. Abubakar Oheda, lecturer and Head of the Organizing Committee of the workshop.
Other African scholars also attended the occasion.
Certificates and other gifts were also awarded to several teaching staff and students as part of the recognition for the positive role they played in steering both the teaching and the learning process of the African languages at the University of Sebha.
The teaching of African languages is the Libyan government's national campaign of which it aims to promote the usage of African languages not only at the university level but at all levels including primary.
It is in this regard therefore, that today African languages especially Swahili is also taught at Al-Fateh University, Nasser University, the Academy of Graduates Studies and Aisha Secondary School in Sebha.
These efforts have not only been confined to learning institutions but have also been extended to other institutions. For instance, in Tripoli, Voice of Africa has started departments of African languages broadcasting in Hausa and Swahili as their main broadcasting languages.
Da'awa tul Islamiyah in Tripoli has never been left behind too in the same regard, apart from admitting students of different nationalities including African countries, it is also publishing newspapers in Hausa and Swahili.
The Tripoli Postís Aboubakar Famau filed this story from Sebha.