Africa’s role in promoting Spanish Language gets exaltation

Addis Ababa, May 16, 2024.- The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has hosted the annual celebration of Spanish Language Day with the presence of the diplomatic community residing here in Addis Ababa, notably from Spanish Speaking countries.

Director of Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division with UNECA, Sweta Saxena said on the occasion that with over 500 million native speakers, Spanish is the world’s second most spoken language in terms of the number of native speakers. Adding the number of those with limited proficiency and those who are studying Spanish, the total reaches nearly 600 million, making Spanish the third most-spoken language worldwide. It is the official or co-official language of 21 countries in Africa, Europe and Latin America. Besides, it is an official language of many international organizations, including the United Nations. It is also worth noting that 10 per cent of the population of the United States speaks Spanish at home.

She further added , Spanish plays a prominent role in the global cultural sector, encompassing literature, theater, cinema, music, media, scientific and intellectual production, education and publishing. The reach of the Spanish language is expanding across the globe.

According to Saxena, a related celebration had previously been observed on 12 October and was known in Spanish as “Dia de la l-lispanidad”. The aim of that celebration was to showcase the cultures and diversity of Spanish-speaking countries and to mark the arrival of Spanish explorers to the Americas. Later on, 223’d April was chosen as the date for Spanish Language Day, in tribute to the Spanish writer, novelist, poet and playwright Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, who died on 23 April in 1616.

In 2010, the United Nations decided to organize language-day celebrations to commemorate each of its six official languages, namely, Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. In doing so, the United Nations has sought to celebrate linguistic and cultural diversity, which is the foundation of peace and harmony in the world.

Coincidentally, English Language Day is also celebrated by the United Nations on 23rd April because it is the date on which the renowned British novelist, poet and playwright, William Shakespeare, passed away.

According to Saxena, the people who speak it have imprinted upon the language a local colour through

variations in lexicon, accents and metaphors. The peoples of the Caribbean, Central America and South America have molded Spanish to suit their political, economic, scientific and cultural needs – in short, their daily lives. It is reflected in the rhythms that move the people of the region such as rumba and salsa.

The Spanish language, like all languages, is ingrained in the minds of its speakers and shapes their identities. Language serves as a means of communication, a vehicle for self-expression, and a mirror of individual and collective humanity – in a word, culture. As a proof of this, it is sufficient to observe the common characteristics that the Spanish language has engendered in those who speak it. Despite differing flags, spaces, cultures and social projects, all these differences come together under the banner of a single language to foster harmony, mutual understanding, tolerance and peace.

“Thanks to its versatility, language is a precious tool in the hands of humanity. We celebrate all of the above today.” Saxena reiterated.

The Spanish language links Africa to Europe and the Americas. Cooperation among Spanish-speaking countries has contributed to the development of human resources and the building of human capital in African countries. For decades, countries such as Argentina, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Cuba and Mexico have trained many Africans in their universities in the fields of health, economics, administration and culture.

Spanish Ambassador to Ethiopa Guillermo Lopez Mac-Lellan said on the occasion that the future of Spanish also relates to Africa.

“The demographic strength of this continent implies that it has a fundamental role in the growth of the Spanish language over the coming decades. This is why the government of Spain in collaboration with the rest of Spanish speaking countries and Spain has made a Determined commitment to promote our common language in Africa.

The Institute of disav is already active in over 20 centers on the continent and there are over 60 Spanish language departments and assistantships in African universities. Mac-Lellan mentioned the great Cuban writer Diplomat and writer Guo cabera infantis who indicated that Spanish is too important to leave it to the Spanish.

Therefore, he noted, in addition to recognizing the great contribution that many Latin American countries have made to the spread of the Spanish language in Africa. It is necessary for Spanish speakers from all countries. Listen to each other until the customs of each country are familiar to us all.

“It’s important to celebrate Spanish Day in Africa because this is the continent with the youngest population in the world. Spanish is a language used by young people. It’s the second most used language on social networks and the internet Uh series such as House of paper the language of Music, uh, listen to a great deal. 50% of Spotify users in the world Listen to at least 1 song in Spanish per month. That’s just by way of an example in conclusion Spanish.”

As being spoken by such a large number of population across the globe , he elaborated that Spanish is the language of a universal culture which unites millions of people around the world and which needs to involve Africa. That is why I invite all those present to continue to promote our great language on this continent. Let us work together to make Africa a country thinks feels and speaks in Spanish. This will increase the richness of the culture of this continent and of the culture of Spanish and it will lead to better understanding between different peoples on both sides of the different hemispheres and well beyond I’d like to end by quoting

Equatorial Guinea is the major African country where Spanish is widely spoken in education and other parts of daily life. Ambassador of the Equatorial Guinea to Ethiopia Miguel Ntutumu Evuna said on his part that it’s important to find strategies that represent all Spanish-speaking countries, uh covering all their social cultural aspects. We need to promote cooperation between Spanish speaking States.

Ambassador of Uruguay to Ethiopia and AU, as well as Dean Ambassadors of Spanish Speaking Countries in Ethiopia, Nestor Rosa says there are 21 countries where the Spanish language is the official language and there are almost 500 million people throughout the world who speak Spanish as their mother tongue.

Including the United Nations and its economic Commission as well as the African Union, the Spanish day is celebrated throughout the world by around 600 million speakers across all continents, and by all those people who love study or have an affinity with our language and culture, Rosa noted.

With a population of about 120 million people Mexico has the largest Spanish speaking population in the world. Spanish Ambassador to Ethiopia Alejandro Ives Estivil Castro said on his part that Spanish is the basis of our communication, but they shouldn’t be to the detriment of all the different indigenous languages constantly ethnic and cultural diversity of our country and African America indigenous languages have enriched The Spanish language.

Speaking on behalf of Dr Rita Bissoonauth, Director of UNESCO Liaison Office to AU, UNECA and Representative to Ethiopia, Dr Abdulaye Salifou said that the celebration of the Spanish Language Day, which shows our solidarity and our strong commitment to support to Spanish Speaking Countries.

The UN established Spanish Language Day in 2010 to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity. This initiative is strongly recognized by UNESCO. Indeed, Spanish is among the six working Languages of UNESCO. Spanish is also among the six working languages of UN. This celebration honors the Spanish language’s global significance and cultural contributions. UNESCO is proud to be part of this celebration.

Today, Salifou noted, some languages such Spanish plays a pivotal role in development, mainly in: Promoting cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue; Strengthening cooperation; Offering quality education; Building integrative knowledge societies; Preserving cultural heritage; and mobilizing political will to apply science and technology achievements to sustainable development.

BY ZEKARIAS WOLDEMARIAM

THE ETHIOPIAN HERALD

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