Has it ever struck you that Ugandan banks could be alienating potential customers by not considering financial translation services and having their transactions done in the English language? Every Ugandan bank you go to has its receipts written in English. In fact even most of the tellers and other staff in these banks speak only the official national language – English.
It’s ironic that banks that are at the forefront of preaching the gospel of developing a savings culture are the ones doing all their official business in the English language yet they know that most Ugandans are not well-educated and even some of those who have attained formal education up to university level are still not fluent with the Queen’s language and prefer communicating in the local languages.
This situation in Uganda’s financial sector justifies the urgent need for financial translation services. In the capital city, Kampala, the local newspaper Bukkedde sells more copies everyday than Daily Monitor and New Vision. Even in western Uganda, Orumuri newspaper which is written in Runyankole-Rukiga sells like hotcakes because people generally prefer reading something written in their mother tongues.
This also explains why the glut of radio and television stations that saturate our country since the liberalisation of media in early 1990s are popular for broadcasting in local languages. Radio stations like Sanyu Fm, Radio One, and Capital Fm (to mention only three) which broadcast exclusively in the English language are only popular among the urban elite who are the minority compared to stations like CBS in Buganda or Radio West in Mbarara who have more listeners but broadcast in the local languages.
Need for a paradigm shift
It goes without saying that we need a paradigm shift in Uganda’s financial sector as far as communications is concerned. Those who cannot speak English language fluently don’t deserve to miss out on messages of financial and economic empowerment. Thus the time is now for banks and other financial businesses to hire financial language translators to always translate their documents into local languages for accessibility of those not articulate in the English language. Other translation services offered in various languages include;
Oromo translation services
Kinyarwanda translation services
Malagasy translation services
Somali translation services
Kirundi translation services
Chewa translation services
Tigrinya translation services among many others.
The other day a lady from one of the big insurance companies in Kampala came to persuade me to sign up for one of their educational insurance packages. She was Ugandan with a Ugandan name but she was speaking fast like a rapper and in a foreign accent that made it hard for me to grasp what she was saying. I asked her to speak in Luganda but she said she was not fluent in it though she was born and raised in Buganda. In the end I never signed up for the package she was selling because I just could not keep up with her foreign accent and fast speech.
This is another example of how the language barrier is costing business owners and financial corporations many potential customers. The proletariat who are the majority would rather keep their money in piggy banks or stash it under their mattresses than save it with banks because the banks and other companies are not speaking the language these ordinary folks understand. If they did, many banks would be booming because many people would be saving with them and we would have a robust economy. As a common saying goes, a word for the wise is enough!