Although Kiswahili is constitutionally recognized as the second official language in Uganda, its popularity remains low. Efforts to institutionalize and popularize it through various legal frameworks have not yielded much.
A study conducted by researchers from the Department of African Languages at Makerere University revealed that despite several efforts to promote the usage of Kiswahili within the East African Community, its popularity in Uganda stands at 29%.
With support from the Government of Uganda, through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund, the researchers set out to assess the challenges hampering the popularization of Kiswahili in Uganda. Under a project titled, "Mainstreaming Kiswahili in Uganda's National Agenda for Regional Integration and Sustainable Development”, the team members namely; Dr Caroline Asiimwe (Principal Investigator), Dr Bernadatte Nambi Karuhanga (Co-PI), Dr Gilbert Gumoshabe, Dr Innocent Masengo and Mr. Boaz Mutungi sought views of the populace on the factors undermining the usage of Kiswahili and made several recommendations for its popularization.
Disseminating their findings at Makerere University on 5th November 2020, the team pointed to negative attitude and resistance from sections of the population who view Kiswahili as a violent language and language of the military and thieves, as some of the factors hampering its popularization. Other factors included lack of Government commitment to promoting the language and lack of Kiswahili literature. Some respondents pointed to multilingual related factors and the love for local languages as some of the other challenges undermining the popularization Kiswahili in Uganda.