Uhuru to unveil Kiswahili version of House standing orders

Event to headline Thursday's State of the Nation of Address.

In Summary

• Report of task force behind the document reveals the arduous task of producing the report.

• Lawmakers may soon be compelled to use Kiswahili during Thursday sittings.

Members of Parliament during a past joint sitting.
Members of Parliament during a past joint sitting.
Image: FILE

President Uhuru Kenyatta will on Thursday unveil the Kiswahili version of the National Assembly Standing Orders.

The launch will headline the President’s State of Nation Address to be delivered in a joint sitting of the Senate and National Assembly.

The Kiswahili standing orders are expected to enable the National Assembly to conduct business in the national language on specified days.

Speaker Justin Muturi has proposed that members transact in Kiswahili during the Thursday evening sittings.

A report of the task force that delivered the translated statute reveals the arduous task the team was subjected to.

The team behind the translation was led by deputy director of Legislative and Procedural Services Kipkemoi Kirui.

Salem Lorot, Benson Mwale, Anne Shibuko, Mwambeo Mwang’ombe, Rebecca Munyao and Mwahunga Kalama were members of the task force.

Among the challenges the team faced was translating words used in legal parlance as some have a different meaning when expressed in Kiswahili.

Members of the task force said not all language experts are parliamentary experts.

It is the first time the Kiswahili version has been developed in line with the National Assembly procedures.

“Some areas took a week to develop, others a day. We worked for 16 hours and had to deal with a lot in a short space of time as we worked on the document after work hours,” the report reads.

Professors from Moi, Nairobi and Kenyatta universities were engaged, as well as experts from Tanzania’s Baraza la Kiswahili (Bakita).

“We did the work as a task force, but the professor did the bulk in reworking the document,” a member of the task force said.

University of Nairobi’s Prof Mwangi Iribe and his counterpart Prisca Jerono, as well as Dr Robert Oduori (Moi), Vincent Magugu (Moi), Prof Kitula King'ei (Kenyatta) and Dr Miriam Osore (Kenyatta), were incorporated into the task force.

The clerk invited consultant translation experts Prof Clarah Momanyi and Nuhu Bakari.

The team had to develop terminologies that match the English version of the same in respect of legal terms. Reference materials to aid the translation were hard to come by.

“The English version of the Standing Orders was full of long arduous sentences which should have been broken for good drafting practice. Its long sentences proved challenging during translation,” the task force said.

The team exuded confidence that their work would last for 100 years but projected that it may be revised should the BBI changes materialise.

The National Assembly leadership commended the young professionals "for doing a patriotic job for the republic".

Edited by Henry Makori

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