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Masinde Muliro’s Rose Auma successfully defends first PhD in French in Kenya by a Kenyan!

Early this week on Tuesday 10th September, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology achieved a ‘first’ when Rose Auma became the first Kenyan to successfully defend a PhD, fully done in French in Kenya. The first and second PhDs in French to be defended in Kenya were by Congolese nationals Dr. Ngoy Mwilambwe and Dr. Mulenda Mubalama at Maseno University. Auma’s PhD is therefore the third one in Kenya but the first by a Kenyan in Kenya. Rose Auma belongs to the Language and Literature Education Department at MMUST which houses French, Kiswahili, English, Literature and Communication Skills. Producing this prestigious PhD is a milestone for MMUST.

Dr. Rose Auma

Speaking after Auma’s defense, Prof. Isidore Muteba Kazadi of MMUST said that Auma’s PhD on ‘Teaching French as a foreign Language’ will upscale the expertise in French not only for this university but for the entire region. Further, the acquisition of this PhD will ease the nightmare that the department has had to go through to get expertise in French. Prof. Kazadi pointed out that due to the scarcity of trained professionals in French, the university had to bring in Dr. Mulenda Mubalama, Dr. Nuru Kyalo, and Dr. Caroline Kalangi, all from Maseno University, to collaborate in this important defense.

According to Dr. Kalangi, the fact that this thesis was one hundred percent done in French is both impressive and an indicator of the growth of the language in Kenya. One of the panelists, Dr. Mulenda said that as a professional, he is proud to be associated with MMUST and with Rose Auma through her PhD. On her part, Dr. Nuru Kyalo revealed that French is more alive in Nyanza and Western compared to any other parts of the Country. “This defense brings the region into the limelight once again regarding teaching and learning of French!” she affirmed.

Adoption of foreign languages has remained a big challenge to most people in Kenya. Experts argue that language acquisition can best be achieved at tender ages. Today, foreign languages have become a source of livelihood for many people. In spite of this, very few people study language to doctorate level.

Prof. Kazadi estimates that over 2 billion people speak French in Africa. This is because French is the official language of 17 Countries in Africa. These countries are: Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Congo Brazzaville, Gabon, Cameroon, Chad, Central Africa, Mali, Cote de Vore, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania, Benin, Senegal, Togo and Guinea Conakry. He notes that there has been a shortfall of French lecturers in Kenyan Universities. Ms. Auma’s PhD is an upscale to the expertise of French not only to MMUST, but to the entire region. “The future of French is Africa. This is evident from number of French speakers in this continent. But there is still acute shortage of French experts. I am the only French professor. There is no associate professor. Only two senior lecturers, one in Kenyatta University and another one in Moi University,” said Prof. Kazadi. Rose Auma, hopes to use her PhD to help grow the number of French experts and enhance the position of MMUST in the world of French speakers and practitioners.


 By Lydia Anyonje and Shiundu Wilberforce

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