Kiswahili for Foreigners

KISWAHILI FOR FOREIGNERS is a course offered to students from abroad who wish to learn how to speak Swahili. Students are also taught African History and Culture. Beginning in 2009, this course has been attended by over 100  young men and women from Sweden, Germany, Finland, Norway and USA. Students stay for 2 weeks to 3 months. Apart from attending lectures, students get the opportunity to live with Tanzanian families for some weeks. Below is a testimony from, Filip Jönsson, one of the students who have gone through this course.

I arrived in Lushoto, northeast of Tanzania, on 3rd September 2018. Sent by the Diocese of Lund, I had secured an opportunity to work as volunteer at Irente Farm which belongs to the North Eastern Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (NED-ELCT). Before starting to work, I had to learn Kiswahili which is the national language in Tanzania.

 The “Kiswahili for Foreigners” course is designed and organised by the Directorate of Postgraduate Studies, International Relations and Linkages at Sebastian Kolowa Memorial University (SEKOMU). It was conducted from 5th to 19th September 2018 at Irente Children’s Home where we stayed throughout the course. We were four students (volunteers) altogether – two from Germany and two from Sweden. None of us had prior knowledge of the language.

Our instructor from SEKOMU was Mr. Afizai Vuliva. From the very beginning, he allowed us to decide which level of knowledge we wanted to attain. Mr. Vuliva taught us in a very pedagogical way. At the same time each student was free to decide what he or she wanted to learn apart from what the course outline had to offer. Classroom instruction where we learnt how to read and write Kiswahili was combined with meeting other people. We visited homes, workplaces, schools, shops and markets. We also attended events such as graduations and choir-competitions. As a result we had the opportunity of encountering people and their culture in real life. It was interesting to learn how to introduce ourselves to those who welcomed us to their homes and bargain prices with market sellers.

A Master student from SEKOMU, Mr. Desmond John, used one afternoon to give us some knowledge in Tanzanian Sign Language which is used by deaf people in their daily life. This part was also very interesting and I wish we had more time to learn sign language. Rev. Joyce Kibanga who is the Director of Social Services in the NED-ELCT gave us an overview about the Tanzanian society. She gave us an important insight on the role of the church in offering social services in collaboration with the government. Since all four of us were to work in different places belonging to the NED-ELCT, awareness about the relationship between church and society in Tanzania was vital.

On our “Graduation” day, all four of us were required to give a speech. We had prepared these beforehand together with short drama. Our guest of honour was Rev. Joyce Kibanga. When she arrived, we received her appropriately by putting a flower-circlet around her neck. Then followed speeches and drama. The guest of honour and others who attended clearly enjoyed what they heard and saw! Rev. Joyce then presented Certificates of Recognition to each students. To wind up this joyful event, a special lunch had been prepared – with spring rolls and “Swedish” meatballs in the menu!

I really wish to recommend the Kiswahili for Foreigners course to anyone who wishes to learn this language in an exciting and effective way.

Filip Jönsson