Almost 150 million people speak Swahili today, mainly in the East of Africa, but there are alarmingly few astronomical resources available in the language. But now the UNAWE Tanzania team is working hard to help change this and to bring the wonders of the cosmos to the entire Swahili-speaking community.
The team have been hard at work creating and translating astronomy resources into their native language for publication on the international UNAWE website and on their own website, UNAWE Tanzania. One example is the EU-UNAWE resource, Space Scoop, an astronomy news service for kids, which is currently being translated into 19 different languages, including Swahili. Several of these Space Scoops, such as 'Secrets of an Alien World', have been cited on the popular Swahili wikipedia site, in the 'Astronomy' and 'Cassini-Huygens' sections.
There are still big challenges to overcome when translating astronomical resources into Swahili, for example many astronomical terms are not yet been known in Swahili, including the names of the planets. The first four planets has multiple names, discussions are still ongoing about which are the official titles.
However, making resources available in a large variety of languages is an effort that pays off. The mother tongue has a special impact on awaking curiosity, creating ownership and enhancing knowledge integration in communities. This is the motivation that pushes UNAWE Tanzania to find new ways of making information available in Swahili and to create a new generation in East Africa which is inspired by the Universe.
If you would like to help or to translate astronomy resources in to Swahili or any other language, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.