Beginning Swahili

Kiswahili: Darasa la Kwanza



Karibu kwenye ukurasa wa Darasa la Kwanza la Kiswahili, Chuo Kikuu cha Jimbo la Michigan!

Welcome to the Beginning Swahili Website of Michigan State University!

The Language

Swahili, or Kiswahili, as it is called by the speakers of the language, is the most widely spoken African language south of the Sahara. It is estimated that more than 70 million people in East and Central Africa speak Swahili. It is spoken in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  This widespread lingua franca is also an official language in Kenya and Tanzania.

Swahili was originally the language of fishing and farming communities in the coastal areas of present–day Southern Somalia and Kenya before the 10th century. From the 11th century, Swahili developed as a trading language as trade between East Africa and Arabia, Persia, and India grew. The Swahili people of the East African coast became important traders. Gradually, commercial centers emerged along the entire East African coast giving rise to Swahili culture with much Islamic influence. Religion provided inspiration for Swahili poetry resulting in a unique literary tradition.

Today, Swahili is used in government and administration, commerce, trade, primary and secondary education, popular culture and media.

 AFR 101A AFR 102A


Last update: 06/09/2003
Swahili Language Program
African Studies Center
Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African Languages