Assembly battles to choose national language

By Bida Elly David

The chairperson of the information committee at the Reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly (R-TNLA) has disclosed that the parliament is still battling to adopt an agenda introducing national language to be used as a mode of communication and constitutional translation across the Country.

Speaking to the media after the parliamentary session on Monday, John Agany the head of the information committee at the R-TNLA said identifying a national language for the Country has been difficult since the tendency of ethnic blames still takes the lead.

He said the rate of tribal hostility in South Sudan cannot allow the parliament to decide which language goes for national utilization.

Agany revealed that five major languages across the Country have been proposed for one of them to take the lead as the national language but fear of accusations on the account of ruling the Country becomes the stumbling block.

He stated that South Sudanese have been failing to understand the constitution due to the fact that it has not been translated into languages noting that people in remote areas need to understand the laws.

“We have 64 languages. If we make them major, we will have that standard form of having one national language that can be used in South Sudan. If you use it in Dinka, Bari, Shilluk, Nuer being the major languages, you will be accused of being ethnical,” he said.

The Parliament spokesperson pointed out that the R-TNLA does not have a body concerned with the translation of the national constitution into the 64 languages across the Country noting that there is need for its re-constitution.

He further suggested that the Country especially the parliament has got linguists who are able to combine the major spoken languages and frame them such that they are used for constitutional translation.

Agany however added that youth from the 64 tribes have a bigger role in identifying the best language fit to be used in South Sudan.

“As I speak, we don’t have that body. We have to raise special law about it through the Minister of Justice. What we need to do is to get one national language. Our linguists are here and they should do this one, combine our major spoken languages and unify the language that we can recommend and get the constitution out of them,” he advised.

Agany said that the parliament has a legal and justice committee that is capable to push the concern of the language before the august house to be discussed.

He added that the question of having a national language stands on how united South Sudan tribes are in regards to nationalism and patriotism noting that it will be a difficult journey if citizens remain divided on tribal lines.