United Kingdom

Uganda Network


The most widely spoken language is Swahili, but the official language is English. A bizarre situation when viewed from Europe but the history of the Country was as a UK Protectorate with English being the language of the ruling power.

In fact Uganda is a country of many different languages and dialects. Probably as many as 40 exist. Recent cross border migration during periods of war and famine has meant that in some parts French is also widely spoken.

In these circumstances some would say it is only the fact that one non-tribal language (English) exists that communication between those speaking the various ethnic languages is possible.

English is imposed in Education and all official circles and certainly makes communication inside the country easier than it would otherwise be.

However, it relies on Education to make this possible. Those children and familes which are uneducated can only communicate in their own language.

However, whatever is the circumstances there seems to be no move to change to Swahili in the way that Kenya did some years ago. This would clearly make communication more difficult for those not speaking Swahili.

Other languages spoken are Acholi, Adhola, Alur, Amba, Aringa, Bari, Chiga, Ganda, Gujarati, Gungu, Gwere, Hindi, Ik, Kakwa, Karamojong, Kenyi, Konjo, Jumam, Kupsabiny, Lango, Lugbara, Lugandan and Lacona, Luyia, Madi, Mangbetu and the list goes on and on. Perhaps this paragraph alone explains the problem of communication without English. Any change is likely to have considerable teaching and tribal consequences. Look at http://www.ethnologue.com/show_country.asp?name=Uganda for further information.




Learn a few words in Swahili.

Jambo Hello
Kwa Heir good-bye
Asante Sana thank you very much

One of the other languages spoken in Uganda is Lugandan and the greetings in Lugandan are:


Webale nyo thank you very much
Weraba good-bye
Wasuze otyans good afternoon
Ozibye otyano good afternoon
Ssebo Sir
Wyabo Madam

You could use Lugandan numbers for some games or give out points in Lugandan!

1 emu
2 biri
3 satu
4 nya
5 tano
6 mukaga
7 musanvu
8 munana
9 mwenda
10 kumi


Contact the Uganda Network Copyright © The UK Uganda Network - 2002
Last modified 3 January 2004


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