Mwananchi (pronounced mwah-nah-‘nchee) is a Kiswahili word meaning ‘citizen’. As D. Masolo explained in 1986, mwananchi is ‘a term designating a class of people considered as “ordinary” because they do not have any outstanding (political and/or financial or administrative) powers and privileges in public or private sectors’. This is an important distinction from other categories of citizen. The word mwananchi‘, therefore, is used to emphasise the common woman or man, but one who experiences and exercises different forms of citizenship in different contexts. These different forms of citizenship are also associated with different contestations over meanings, power and resources between citizens and their governments. These contestations on the one hand allow for greater accessibility by the masses of citizens to government. This governance programme, therefore, uses the word 'citizen' or 'mwananchi' as a social construct that acknowledges undercurrents of differences in 'citizenship' across certain countries and societies. It allows investigation into the different forms of citizenship as the basis for meaningful interventions into good governance from the side of citizens (See Mwananchi WP, p26/27).
Why does the programme have different names in different countries?
'Mwananchi' was selected as the name for the overall project because of its precise meaning and historical resonance. However, Swahili is only spoken in one of the six programme countries: Uganda. Therefore, given the importance of national audiences, National Coordination Organisations (NCOs) in each country selected names that more accurately reflected programme goals in each country. In Malawi, the programme has adopted the Chichewa name 'Liu Lathu'. In Zambia, the programme is called 'Atwaambe'. In Sierra Leone the Mwananchi programme is 'Leh wi Tok' (Let us Talk) in the local creole. And in Ethiopia 'Lem Limat' is the name used.