Stephane Sessegnon

Swahili broadcast to return

by Stuart Vose

Newcastle clash to be aired across Africa.

BBC Swahili's flagship football programme, Ulimwengu wa Soka, is to once again visit the Stadium of Light to bring live match commentary of the big Wear-Tyne derby game to the African continent.

The BBC Swahili weekend football programme first visited the Stadium of Light on New Year's Day 2012, broadcasting live commentary from Sunderland's clash with Manchester City, which saw the Black Cats win in spectacular style with a last minute goal from Korean Ji Dong-won.

The two commentators at the Stadium of Light that day, Charles Hilary and Salim Kikeke, are household names in East Africa, and now also present the new BBC Swahili TV news and current-affairs programme, Dira ya Dunia.   They have commentated from both the Africa Cup of Nations and the FIFA World Cup. Their unique style of commentary around the winning goal became a cult hit with Sunderland fans and football fans across the globe.

The team of producers and presenters on Ulimwengu wa Soka bring football news and live English Premier League commentary to Swahili-speaking fans every weekend and BBC Swahili reporters across the region - in Zanzibar, Nairobi, Kampala and Dar es Salaam - join listeners who enjoy watching the matches in their localities, while following the BBC Swahili commentary on radio. This combination of the visual provided by TV coverage with the BBC Swahili commentaries has become the norm since 2004 when the BBC first started offering live Premier League commentary in Swahili.

Sunderland AFC’s chief executive Margaret Byrne said: “The Barclays Premier League is the most watched league in the world and is hugely popular across the African continent.  Traditionally Sunderland has enjoyed a huge and passionate support in the north east of England and we are now building on that core support and expanding into international territories such as Africa as the club enters a new phase of its development and looks to increase its global following.

“We are absolutely delighted to be welcoming our friends from the BBC World Service commentary team to the Stadium of Light once again and for a game of such great significance to our fans and the club. I’m sure those listening across Africa will be absolutely amazed by the passion and intensity of this game and it will be a great showcase for the Barclays Premier League and Sunderland AFC.”

Editor of the BBC Swahili Service, Ali Saleh said: “Once again this is a great opportunity for BBC Swahili to bring live action from the Stadium of Light to our East and Central African listeners. This is one of the iconic derbies in English football where famous African players will feature.  It promises to be an exciting match while there is still everything to play for. Last year’s drama is still fresh in our listeners’ minds and Sunday’s match is already generating a lot of debate.”