Julius Nyerere and Swahili: Legacy, Perspectives and Prospects

Key information

3:00 pm to 4:30 pm
Virtual Event
Event type

About this event

Various Speakers

* This online event is taking place at British Summer Time (BST).


In 2022 we celebrate the 100th birthday of the late Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere. To mark Nyerere’s contribution to the Swahili language, we are bringing together an international panel of experts to discuss his impact and legacy. Panellists will explore language policies in East Africa, Swahili as a language of instruction, the role of Swahili for national identity, and the evolving position of Swahili as a global language.

Everyone is invited to join us for this exciting discussion. This is the inaugural event of a series of webinars called ‘Swahili Circle’ on topics related to the Swahili language run by SOAS Centre for African Studies and the Swahili Dialects Project (University of Essex, University of Dar es Salaam, Kenyatta University and SOAS University of London).

For more information on the Swahili Dialects Project go to swahilidialects.com .


  • Prof John Mugane
  • Dr Aikande C. Kwayu
  • Prof Kenneth Inyani Simala
  • Mr Richard Mabala
  • Chair: Mr Albert Mkony

About the speakers

Prof John M. Mugane is Professor of the Practice of African Languages and Cultures and Director of the African Language program in the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. He is a linguist specializing in African languages and linguistics and the epistemology of African language teaching, learning methodology and pedagogy. He also has keen interest in natural language processing issues and solutions addressing Africa’s languages. His most recent book is The Story of Swahili (Ohio University Press, 2015) .

Prof Kenneth Inyani Simala is a Professor of Kiswahili and Cultural Linguistics at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Kenya. He is a former Executive Secretary of the East African Kiswahili Commission and was a consultant in the process of making Kiswahili an official language at SADC and AU. Currently Simala is a Senior Fellow in the CODESRIA Advanced Humanities Programme working on ‘Reimagining the Nature and Futures of Humanities in African Universities and Society’. In this talk, Simala will be reflecting on the influence of Nyerere’s legacy on trends and futures of Kiswahili as a humanities discipline.

Mr Richard Mabala moved to Tanzania in 1973 as a British volunteer but ended up becoming a Tanzanian citizen in 1982. He is married with two children. He is a teacher and activist on issues of education, gender, and child and youth rights and has been actively arguing for the use of Kiswahili as a medium in instruction since the 1970s. Mabala is also a writer of stories/novels for children and young adults, cartoon booklets and training manuals in English and Kiswahili as well as two weekly Kiswahili satirical columns in local newspapers. He is also editor and translator of a wide variety of texts.

Dr Aikande Clement Kwayu is a social scientist with experience in multidisciplinary research and consulting. She is an activist on issues of social and political justice. Kwayu has published two books: (i) “Religion and British Development Policy” - Palgrave (2020) ; and (ii) Co-authored with Amy Stambach “Pragmatic Faith and the Lutheran Church in Tanzania: Erasto N. Kweka’s Life and Work” – Lexington (2020) . Dr. Kwayu is a research affiliate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA. She is also a part-time lecturer at the University of Tumaini Makumira, Tanzania.

Mr Albert Mkony is a Doctoral Candidate researching the politics of memorialisation in digital spaces and print media in Tanzania, focusing on how Nyerere's legacy is contested today. He is also a Senior Tutor at the University of Edinburgh, teaching International Development, International Relations, and African Studies since 2015. Formerly also taught Swahili 2015-2020.


This event will take place on Zoom. Click here to register

Organiser: SOAS Centre of African studies and The Swahili Dialects Project

Contact email: cas@soas.ac.uk