One Afrika, One Language

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Do you want to learn Kiswahili? You can finally realize your dream, thanks to the AfrikaRudi community.

We have the best teachers who are native speakers of Kiswahili, so you’ll be learning from real experts. Join our community today and start learning!

Background

Swahili (Kiswahili) is one of the fastest-growing languages in the world. This language has gained fame, prosperity and popularity in Africa and across the world. Due to its simplicity in learning and its importance in terms of business, diplomacy, governing and unification of an African continent and African Diasporas, it is one of the most learnt languages in the world. This is also one of the biggest African languages which have gained acceptance to most Africans as the lingua franca among them.

  • It has been proposed by the African Unity (AU) and other African economic integrations such as the East African Community to be the official language used in their meetings along with English and French. 
  • It has no elements of tribalism and ethnicity hence can easily unify Africans.

Despite many opinions, researchers and assertions, Swahili remains an African language as it originates from the Bantu languages of the coast of East Africa. 

What We Offer

AfrikaRudi facilitates the co-ordination of Swahili teachers from Tanzania, Kenya and other East Afrikan countries to come and teach in SA voluntarily and SA teachers travelling to learn the language in East Afrika. This is in light of the new language policy in South Africa, whereby in 2020 Swahili started to be taught in schools as an optional subject.

Focus Areas

  • Teachers Exchange Programmes
  • Swahili resource centre 
  • Afternoon/weekend/online classes for Swahili language lessons
  • Pan Afrikan language programme: promote awareness of one Afrikan language which is Swahili.

AfrikaRudi

Kiswahili Teachers

Suleiman Mustaffa
Suleiman Mustaffa

An accomplished language tutor and a tour guide in Zanzibar. He volunteers as a Swahili tutor SPEAK.social, a non-governmental organisation that assists refugees and migrants.

DAVIS MUNUO
Davis Munuo

Master of Art in Kiswahili Language (State University of Zanzibar). Has achieved to translate a Pocket dictionary of the Deutsch language to Swahili.

EMILIAN MBASSA MAFURU
Emilian Mbassa Mafuru

Seasoned Swahili Course Contributor with Duolingo. Has experience as a Swahili Language and cross-culture Facilitator for US Peace Corps and Toyota Tanzania.

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James Wahome
CAROLYNE ULOMY
Carolyne Ulomy

Holds a Bachelor of Education in Adult and Community Education (University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania). Fluent in two International Languages (English and Swahili) and currently pursuing classes in the Arabic Language.

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Habib Moyo

Master of Art in Kiswahili Language (State University of Zanzibar). Has excellent skills in supervising Swahili class coursework has achieved...

Brief Swahili History

Origin/before external contact

The coast and the islands of eastern Africa were inhabited by people from the mainland for more than twenty thousand years ago. They spoke different dialects due to geographical distance but all these were from one core language which was the Bantu. These dialects spread from southern Somalia, in Comoro islands, eastern African islands such as Pemba and Unguja and Mafia on the side of Tanzania and Pate, Lamu and Manda on the side of Kenya. They also spread along the coast of  Kenya and Tanzania, up to southern  Mozambique. Dialects includes Kimiini,  Kitikuu,  Kipate,  Kiamu, Kimvita,  Kimtang’ata (Kimrima), Kipemba, Kiunguja (Kimji), Kitumbatu, Kimakunduchi, Kimwani  and Kingwana, a few to mention. During all this time these people had their own life, culture and languages. They were referred as to their ethnicities and their tribal languages, this was a time before these communities had any contact with the external world hence they were not referred to as Swahili people. 

During external contact

About one thousand years ago, the people from eastern Afrika had started making contact with the external world. They had business with people from Asia, Arab and Persians. The foreigners sailed from their countries to East Africa to make business. Big business centres emerged such as Zanzibar, Lamu, Pate etc, which later grew to become big and prosperous ancient cities. When Arabs arrived in east Africa, they termed the coast as “Sahil’ and the languages of the indigenous as “Swahili”  and  “as-sawāhilī” to mean indigenous or dwellers of the coast of east Africa. Now the question comes is “when Arabs arrived along the coast of east Africa and termed languages of that area as Sawahil, did they refer to themselves or the original indigenous of East Africa and its islands?”

 Arabs meant to refer to their host, not to anyone else or themselves. This argument eliminates the wrong perspectives that Swahili is Arabic or rooted in Arab or Persia, however, it’s accepted that these languages(of eastern Afrika) came to be greatly affected by Arab language and other languages due to culture intermixing. So this was a new name that combined all languages of inhabitants of the eastern coast of Africa. This does not mean that the Swahili language emerged due to external contact, but a new name emerged to the traditional languages which were there before, and this name grew along with language intermixing which finally became one universal language.

To understand one another, these groups had to intermix their languages where foreigners tried to use the traditional language of the coast and hosts had to try to use the foreigners’ languages. This led to a big effect of foreign languages on the languages of the indigenous which were named “Swahili” before they got affected and after they were affected by other languages.  So this was a name that unified all dialects as one language. As foreigners started dwelling along the coast there were intermarriages between the two sides and the introduction of the Islamic religion. This led to a deep intermixing of the two main cultures between Afrikan and Arabic cultures. However, Persians and Indians were within that combination of this culture. So it seemed that this was an emergence of the Swahili language but the truth is that this was a time where indigenous languages were highly affected by foreign cultures and languages. It is an undeniable truth that Arab and Persian cultures had the greatest influence on the Swahili culture and the Swahili language. Therefore the Swahili language was not born after the arrival of foreigners but it was affected both, by getting a new name “Swahili” from foreigners and by getting new words from foreign languages.

It is said by some researchers that Swahili has 60% Bantu, 30% Arabic and 10% Indian, English and Portuguese etc. Despite many variating findings, however, Swahili remains rooted in Bantu languages. So Swahili developed with effects from foreign languages for many centuries just like other languages such as English, French, German etc, they are all affected by other languages.

Apart from being the language of business, Swahili also gained status to be used as a language of administration as Germans and British used it as a medium of communication in their government systems during the colonial era in East Africa. This was in the 19th century. It was also used as a medium of communication in religious believes such as in mosques and churches, this helped its spread across many areas. 

After its independence, Tanzania declared Swahili to be a national language, and the medium of learning in primary schools and as a subject in secondary and higher learning institutions. It was also declared in Kenya as the national language followed by Uganda. Swahili has now become a second language spoken by tens of millions in three African Great Lakes countries of KenyaUganda, and Tanzania, where it is an official or national language while being the first language to many people in Tanzania and Kenya especially in the coastal regions and big towns. Swahili is also spoken to small numbers of people in Congo-DRC, BurundiComorosMalawiMozambiqueZambia, Sudan, Somalia and Rwanda. The language is still understood in some parts of the Red Sea.  Swahili speakers may number 120 to 150 million in total. 

Current status 

Today this language has big importance in the world and Afrika in specific because of its spread across many nations in Africa. It has brought together people of different tribes and ethnicities. Swahili is one of the biggest Afrikan language growing fast to bring Africans as one and replacing foreign languages such as English, French, Arabic and Portugal, that may have played a big role in dividing Africans.

Swahili is now used in radio broadcasting across the world such as Sauti ya Amerika(VOA), BBCDeutsche WelleMonte CarloRFI(Radio Francais Internationale), Radio China Kimataifa, Radio Cairo (Egypt), Radio Japan International and in other countries such as Rusia and Iran.

The Swahili language is also making its presence in the art world in songs, theatres, movies and television programs. Many movies have been translated into Swahili, and some companies have made some Swahili words as their brands, for instance, one of the biggest movie company in the USA use a word “Hakuna Matata” “no problem” for their branding.

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