The Board of Trustees of Qatar-based Sheikh Hamad Translation and International understanding has for the first time included Kiswahili as the deserving language for receiving the award.

The Award Press Advisor, Dr. Hanan Al Fayadh told the press here ahead of a forum to introduce the Award’s activities at the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA)’S Institute of Tourism, that the Kiswahili language has been included in the Award’s translation category from Arabic into other International languages.

SUZA’s Professor of Education Dr. Issa Haji Ziddy said the forum has been organized to recognize the importance of Kiswahili in the Award’s literacy works and as fountain of knowledge in East Africa.

He urged the local translators to take advantage of the award which carries prizes amounting $2 million distributed in the various categories of translations.

It is generally accepted that Arabic has had a major impact on the growth of the Swahili language over the centuries. The meaning of this linguistic stimulus of Arabic, however, has been a matter of far lesser consensus in both the colonial and postcolonial dispensations. Does the Semitic influence reduce Swahili’s African credentials, and does not it amount to some degree of linguistic Islamization? If so, is the development an argument in favor on the Swahili language in award?

There is almost a terminology division of labor between the Bantu roots of Kiswahili and its Semitic legacy. The word for war(vita) is from Bantu, but the word for peace (amani) is from Arabic. North and south(Kaskazini and Kusini) are originally Bantu, but east and west (mashariki and magharibi) are Arabic derived. The numerals one to five, eight and ten are of Bantu origin, while six (sita), seven (saba), nine (tisa) are from Arabic.

In one of his numerous essays, the other Mazrui Professor Ali Mazrui has suggested that the language of “polite society and good manners in Kiswahili has borrowed disproportionately from Arabic.” Some of the examples of the relevant borrowed Kiswahili vocabulary from Arabic include: heshima(respect); adabu(manners),hisani (favor), salamu (greetings), shukrani (grateful), ahsante (thank you) and tafadhali (please).

Swahili is derived from Arabic. (it) is a language that originated from the Arabs….Swahili is not our language and it is not our mother tongue. It is a foreign language just as much as English is a foreign language. (Quoted by Marshadm1984,p.79).

The Sheikh Hamad Award for Translation and International Understanding is named in honor of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the ruling Emir of Qatar from 1995 to 2013.It is among the world’s richest literary prizes for translation.

The Award was initiated by the Forum for Arab and International Relations (FAIR) in Doha, Qatar in 2015, in order to revive the culture of honoring translation and translators, which has been one of the pillars of Arab civilization throughout the ages.

The Award’s vision is to inculcate a culture of knowledge and dialogue, develop international understanding and promote intellectual interaction and exchange between Arabic and other world languages through the medium of translation.

The annual award consists of three categories namely the Translation Award carrying prizes on four translations from Arabic to English, Arabic to a second language and the second language to Arabic. Each branch is worth $200,000($100,000 for first place, $60,000 for second place and $40,000 third place.

The Achievement award: up to ten branches: the translation from Arabic to 5 other languages and the translation from these 5 languages to Arabic. Each branch is worth up to $100,000.

The International Understanding Award: worth $200,000 for a single winner, it aims to recognizing the efforts of an individual or institution in building a culture of peace and promoting international understanding.

The Forum for Arab and International Relations is an independent think tank based in Doha, Qatar. It was founded in 2011 to stimulate debate, promote dialogue and further cultural and political development. Firmly committed to the dissemination of information and the free expression of opinions, FAIR endeavors to forge consensus among different intellectual and political groupings within and outside the Arab and Islamic worlds. It is equally committed to enabling politicians and decision makers to reach better and more informed solutions to local, regional and international problems.

FAIR aspires to inculcate a culture of knowledge, dialogue and international understanding. It hopes to avert religious, sectarian, national and international tensions, and to help ameliorate their adverse effects on social harmony and civil peace everywhere. Taking knowledge of the real word as its starting point, FAIR seeks to provide practical recommendations in the service of the public good and the ultimate welfare of humanity. The ideals of tolerance, pluralism, openness and better understanding of the other and of other cultural milieu guide and inspire all its activities.

FAIR regularly holds local and international conferences and symposia. Prominent politicians, intellectuals, academics, theologians and decision makers are invited to discuss important issues in the Arab and Islamic region. The research papers, studies, findings and recommendations posited in these gathering are made available to the public both in print and online.

FAIR hosts seminars and local discussion groups every fortnight. Specialist in various fields are regularly invited to debate political, religious, philosophical and or public issues. FAIR has hosted hundreds of these meetings since it was established, and it remains committed to hosting them as a means to raise public consciousness and increase knowledge of awareness of current issues.

FAIR publishes a significant number of books on various politico-cultural issues, targeting both specialist and general readerships. It pays particular attention to publishing the research material presented in its various symposia and seminars, often in the form of conference proceedings book. FAIR also gives priority to building cross-cultural bridges through the medium of translation. It renders into Arabic important socio-economic, political, philosophical and cultural books ant articles written in all living languages, and it translates into these languages some creative cultural tracts that reflect the brilliance of the Arab and Islamic mind and rid it of the unfair distortions and stereotyping stuck to it.

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