非漂 [Fēi Piāo] Quote of the Week: Bantu Swahili — How to Steal a Language from Africa

Swahili poetic wealth was attributed to the linguistic and cultural oomph injected by Arabic into Bantu languages. A few hundred kilometers from the coast at Milimani Primary School in Naivasha, Kenya, we recited Arabic words during compulsory Swahili language lessons. Our Swahili teacher encouraged us to learn Arabic words in order to improve our Swahili proficiency.

Yet this language happens to be a treasure Africa cannot afford to give away. Apart from being one of the most widely spoken languages on the continent—enjoying over 100 million speakers—it happens to be exceptionally beautiful to the African ear. To listen to Swahili spoken in native fluency is to be immersed in a musical performance. To master the language is to learn how to stage the performance and get carried away in its self-assured rhythm, to become a bard of your own experiences. A flawless deliverance of Swahili is a cultural badge of honor in East Africa.

 

(Excerpted from Bantu’s Swahili, or How to Steal a Language from Africa by Kamau Muiga)

Speak Your Mind

*