Paramount Chief Kyungu of Karonga and Chitipa districts has proposed that Chichewa should be the language spoken in all public events in the country if unity is to prevail in Malawi.
But the Livingstonia Synod has opposed the idea, arguing that doing so would be recipe for divisions.
Speaking on the sidelines of a handover ceremony of classroom blocks and a water supply project rehabilitated by the Japanese government in Karonga last week, the Nkhonde chief said local languages spoken by different tribes are contributing to divisions amongst Malawians, proposing that Chichewa should be spoken during all public events.
Kyungu said Chichewa should be promoted from Early Childhood Development, primary and secondary schools and in gatherings.
Doing so would ensure unity prevails easily, he said.
“Chichewa is a national language. It must be spoken in all public events. It must also be promoted in all schools because it can unite all of us. Our local languages are dividing us. We are promoting our local languages thereby creating divisions,” Kyungu said.
He suggested that Malawi’s first president, Hastings Kamuzu Banda, made Chichewa a national language because he knew that some languages which are attached to ethnic groups create divisions.
However, the Livingstonia Synod of Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) has shot down Kyungu’s suggestion, saying it has the potential to make other tribes look superior than others.
The synod’s general secretary, Reverend William Tembo, said all local languages should be promoted because they make up a national identity.
“If we can look at it from a unity point of view, then it is a good idea. However, as the synod we feel all local languages should be promoted.
“If we are going to accept this [Kyungus proposal], what will be happening is that all those who have difficulties to speak Chichewa will not be valued. This will create more divisions,” Tembo said.
During the event, Kyungu was seen interrupting speakers who were speaking Kyangonde and Tumbuka, asking them to speak Chichewa or English to enable other people to understand the speeches.
The chief argued that in Tanzania, there are a lot of languages but its citizens use Swahili.
In Malawi, Chichewa language is commonly spoken in Central and Southern Regions.