SOAS University of London

Donovan McGrath, BA African Language and Culture, 1998

"SOAS gave me the opportunity to study at a renowned African university - University of Dar es Salaam - in Tanzania, of which I am very proud."

I came to know about SOAS whilst studying African World Studies at Westminster Adult Education Centre in Victoria. I was keen to build on what I had learnt on the course and so the course teacher referred me to SOAS, where he himself had studied.

SOAS gave me the opportunity to study at a renowned African university - University of Dar es Salaam - in Tanzania, of which I am very proud. Studying at SOAS also gave me the opportunity to teach Swahili when I was employed as a teaching assistant during my final year in 1997-98. I have been teaching the language ever since and currently teach Swahili at the SOAS Language Centre.

I am co-author of Colloquial Swahili, a language teach yourself book, which I wrote with Lutz Marten, currently Dean of the Faculty of Languages and Cultures at SOAS.

Studying at SOAS has not only given me the knowledge, but the confidence to work with Swahili and other African languages in areas outside of teaching. I worked on The Legend of Tarzan (Warner Bros 2016) as the African language consultant and dialect coach. I also worked on the play They Drink It In The Congo for the Almeida Theatre in London, providing Swahili translations for several scenes and supervising the translation of Lingala language for the other scenes. I also coached the actors in the use of accents and language.

I feel honoured to now be teaching at SOAS and helping students to realise their potential, just as others at SOAS did for me.