How Many languages Uganda has?

7 Jan 2019 Igloos

Uganda, a country located in Eastern Africa is a highly multilingual country and one would imagine how many languages Uganda has. With a total population of about 40 million people, it is worthy investigating how many indigenous languages are actually spoken in the country.

The only country in the region with well structured traditional kingdoms, it is no doubt that Uganda despite its size has a number of indigenous languages it actually has so how many languages Uganda has is actually a matter at hand. Some of the prominent Kingdoms and Chiefdoms in Uganda include; Buganda Kingdom which is the biggest kingdom in the country, Bunyoro Kingdom, Tooro Kingdom, Ankole Kingdom, Rwenzururu Kingdom, Busoga Kingdom and Emorimor chiefdom of Teso.

With the existing cultural diversity and institutions as evidenced in the number of kingdoms and chiefdoms, Uganda with no doubt is really a multicultural society.

According to the Uganda constitution, there are over 40 known indigenous languages in Uganda with varying numbers of native speakers. Some of the languages provided in the constitution include; Luganda/ Ganda, Lusoga/ Soga, Lugisu/ Lumasaba/ Masaba, Runyankore/ Nkore, Rukiga/ Kiga/ Chiga, Runyoro/ Nyoro, Rutooro/ Toro, Lufumbira/ Fumbira, Rukonjo/ Konzo, Lugbara, Kebu, Aringa, Madi, Acholi/ Acoli, Lango/ Langi, IK, Karamojong/ Karimojong/ Ng’akarimojong, Kumam, Ateso/ Teso, Kenyi, Adhola/ Jopadhola, Samia/Saamia, Kupsapiiny/ Sabin, Alur, Amba, Bari, Bukusu, Gungu, Lugwere/ Gwere, Kakwa, Ndrulo, Nubi, Nyang’i , Nyole/ Runyore, Pokot, Ruruuli/ Runyala, Soo, Swahili/ Kiswahili, Talinga- Bwisi, Thur, Ugandan Sign Language.

It is important to note that Luganda is the most spoken indigenous language of Uganda with a total of over 4 million native speakers and over 1 million people who speak it as their second language. The language is mostly spoken in the central part of the country where the kingdom of Buganda is situated.

Given the numerous languages in the country, the efforts to have a national language have been rather difficult although proposals have been made to have Kiswahili as Uganda’s national language and maintain English as the official language.

Despite the above, there isn’t so far any act of parliament confirming Kiswahili as Uganda’s national language.

Besides, there have been calls by human rights bodies, non-governmental organizations and other agencies to have the Ugandan constitution Translated into local languages. Human rights bodies believe that having the constitution translated into local languages will aid better understanding of the constitution by the citizens hence justice.




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