The Luganda language, also known as Ganda or Oluganda, is mainly spoken in Uganda where it is considered to be one of the major languages. It is the second most popular language in the country, followed by Swahili and preceded by English.
The language belongs to the Bantu branch of the Niger-Congo language family. The number of the Luganda language speakers in Uganda is estimated at about 5 million speakers. 4 out of 5 million are first-language speakers who can be found in the Buganda region, the largest sub-national kingdom in present-day Uganda. A million others speak the language fluently elsewhere. It is worth to mention that before the 1960s, the Luganda language was used as an instruction language in primary schools in Eastern Uganda.
The Luganda language is the language of the Buganda people. The Buganda people, also known as the Ganda people, make up the largest Ugandan ethnic group. The total number of the Buganda people who live in Uganda is estimated at approximately 5 million people. They make about 20% of the country’s total population. It is interesting to know that the term Uganda is translated from the Swahili language as the “Land of the Ganda”. This term was first used by the Arab and Swahili traders on the East African coast.
The Buganda people reside primarily in the sub-national kingdom of Buganda – the area where the Luganda language is most widely used. It is worth to mention that the word Zika, sometimes also spelled as Ziika, originated exactly from the Luganda language. In the Luganda language, the word Zika literally means overgrown.
The written script is based on the Latin script, but the language did not exist in its written form until the second half of the 19th century. In 1947, the spelling of the Luganda language was standardized. The standard Luganda alphabet consists of 24 letters. Today, the Luganda language is used in some primary schools in Buganda as pupils begin to learn English.