Swahili, also known by its native name Kiswahili, is a Bantu language and the first language of the Swahili people. The exact number of Swahili speakers, be they native or second- language speakers, is unknown and is a matter of debate. Various estimated have put forward 100 million to 150 million. Swahili is the national language in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and South Sudan.
Shili Joseph Somi, a Tanzanian native, who has been in the U.S. for several years, has watched Swahili’s explosive growth and evolution into a dominant language. While people globally have caught hold of the opportunities in learning Swahili, Somi believes that the African American demographic has mainly been left out of the conversations concerning the possibilities.
Somi believes that as business is booming in Africa, many entreprneurs are going to be interested in investing in the continent. “So learning Swahili for them is going to be very advantageous.” He added that learning the language will aid diplomatic missions, international organizations and NGOs in native Swahili speaking countries.
With various lingos, Swahili is viewed as an extraordinarily fluid language, being particularly one of the least demanding of African languages to learn. At the rate Swahili is spreading, Somi believes that it could become the primary language for the entire continent of Africa.
To encourage and ensure that people are learning Swahili properly, Somi created a teaching platform called Swahili Prime. This website allows novice speakers to explore East African culture while learning the Swahili language. “This is all done through go-at-your-own-pace, video-based learning,” Somi shared. “Some websites just teach Swahili but not the proper version,” he said.
All of Somi’s instructors have degrees in Communications, or the Swahili language and are certified by the National Swahili Council in Tanzania. “The comments from the platform have been really good. People are enjoying the lessons,” he shared. Many Africans in America like Sway Steward, a Kenyan-American who never got to learn Swahili from her mother hopes that learning the language brings her closer together and helps them feel more connected to their African ancestry.