Why we Should Speak our Native Language with our Children

By Gitiye M’Akwalu Morris Line

I have mastered one thing in social relations; I always look for that striking thing that stands out in an individual. You know there is always that admirable aspect of every individual. I have found myself admiring even mean people provided they are perfectly mean and unapologetic about it.

I have this long admiration for comrade Raila Odinga commitment to ideals of a free, egalitarian equitable and sustainable society ran along social democratic ideology. More so, I immensely admire him for his unparalleled ability to connect with and move the masses towards a cause. Etc.

Do I admire President Uhuru Kenyatta for anything? Yes I do. I have always been fascinated by the fact that Uhuru Kenyatta despite his princely upbringing, he has impeccable mastery of his mother tongue and the national language.

You see Uhuru Kenyatta lived at the Kenya’s most premier address (State House) from childhood up to adulthood. He alternated residence between state house and Gatundu. He attended exclusive premier schools that attracted students from equally high-end backgrounds and of different nationalities.

Despite all these privileges, which mostly end up alienating individuals from a number of social aspects of their nationhood, his parents, made sure they bequeathed him mother tongue!

You have to admire Uhuru Kenyatta whenever he makes an address in Kiswahili or Kikuyu language. In those instances, circumstances dictate that he speaks to his people whether in Kiambu, Nyeri, or even Meru in the language they understand best.

There is nothing that puts me off like a person or people who cannot speak their people’s language. Language is the soul and identity of the person. It places an individual in a group.

No excuse for not speaking native or national language

I have always had this problem with middle class particularly from my community who having succumbed to the colonial mentality that Mastery of English indicates social progress, discourage their children from either speaking mother tongue, or deliberately bring them up in such a passion that they only speak Kiswahili or English.

You find the children struggling to communicate with their kin in those rare instances they decide to visit the rural areas mostly during Christmas or during general elections!

Now imagine of a situation where a person cannot express himself in either his mother tongue or the national language. It was indeed painful watching Uhuru Kenyatta’s son struggling to greet a political gathering in Kiswahili! Is there any excuse for that?

The definite answer is a resounding no! Reading Kiswahili greetings from his smart phone was quite disturbing. It seriously brought to question his patriotism and dedication to nationhood. He appeared like a visiting tourist.

Would it be excusable for say a member of the monarch in Britain to portray in public inability to express himself in English? Or a member of the royal families that rule the Arab Emirates inability to address a public gathering in Arabic? Would there be an excuse even if such a prince studied in exclusive schools?

Didn’t the former President of Mozambique Joaquim Chissano give a full address in Kiswahili to an AU summit? Isn’t it a popular allegation that the late catholic pontiff John Paul II said a mass at Uhuru Park in Kiswahili?


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George Githinji
George Githinji
Githinji is passionate about devolved governance and public finance. He also comments on topical issues in Kenyan politics and society. In addition, he manages the @UgatuziKenya platform.


  1. Beautiful piece. Mzee Kenyatta did a good job in teaching Uhuru his mother tongue, however, we can’t say the same for Uhuru and Muhoho. Asanteni sana. Mungu awabariki.

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