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Department of Modern Languages
The University of Mississippi


Swahili at the University of Mississippi

Why Study Swahili?

Swahili—or Kiswahili to its speakers—is the most widely-used African language with over 140 million speakers and is considered a lingua franca of the African continent for its everyday use in media, commerce, education, and culture. As a Bantu language, Swahili emerged on the East African coast from a diverse history of trading and cultural exchange between Arabic nations, coastal Africans, and Europeans. Swahili is the official national language of Kenya and Tanzania, and is spoken in Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Comoro Islands, Malawi, east Zaire, southern Somalia, northern Mozambique, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Northern Zambia.

The study of Swahili is increasingly popular among informed, globalized citizens, and Swahili competency enriches studies in Africana studies, archeology, anthropology, international business, history, literature, politics, sociology, governmental work, diplomacy, NGOs, and information technology infrastructure. Indeed, a flourishing online tech-culture scene is emerging in Swahili, known as “Swahilihood.”

African-Americans refer to their annual cultural festival as Kwanzaa, which is derived from the Swahili word kwanza or ‘first.’

The Department of Modern Languages at the University of Mississippi now offers Swahili-language courses. We are excited to have initiated instruction in the eleventh language program in our department. A two-year sequence is currently available in Swahili: SWA 101, 102, 201, 202. Each course is three credits and the four courses taken consecutively will satisfy the Liberal Arts foreign language requirement. Students can also pursue an undergraduate minor in Swahili. This minor requires the completion of 15 hours of coursework at the 200 level and above.

Degree Requirements

Student Resources

Swahili Coastline

Extracurricular Activities

Swahili Club

Our Swahili Club offers…

• Opportunities to practice spoken Swahili outside of class

• Opportunities to meet and have conversation with native Swahili speakers from Tanzania and Kenya

• Opportunities to learn about culture through activities like cooking, dancing, watching movies, and singing

Swahili Club on YouTube: See our Swahili students in action!

Swahili Club meets in Bondurant C-016 Mondays 4:00p to 5:00p. On occasion Swahili Club may change location depending on the activity–such as cooking or dancing. Everyone is invited. For details contact Neema Loy.

Swahili Conversation Group

Our weekly informal conversation group: Practice your Swahili and meet new friends.
— Wednesdays 12:00p-1:00p @ the Residential College

Study Abroad

Go Away! We encourage all students to immerse themselves in the study abroad experience. The Study Abroad Office offers programs in Kenya and Tanzania where students at all levels of Swahili study a variety of linguistic, literary, and cultural topics.



The Swahili faculty at the Department of Modern Languages has expertise in foreign language pedagogy and Tanzanian and Kenyan cultures. Our Swahili classes feature low faculty-to-student ratios allowing students to work closely with our Swahili instructors.

Contact Information

Neema Loy, Instructor of Swahili
Bondurant Hall E-212

Tarab Dances

Financial Assistance

Scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships help many students study Swahili. Modern Languages awards scholarships to students of Swahili, the College of Liberal Arts awards additional scholarships, and other financial support is available from the Office of Financial Aid.