A Ohio University Press Book

The Story of Swahili

By John M. Mugane

“The story of Swahili is one of globalization, cosmopolitanism, and creolization over the past 500 years. This book will stand on the shelf next to works such as Paul Gilroy’s Black Atlantic and Abdul Sheriff’s Dhow Cultures of the Indian Ocean: Cosmopolitanism, Commerce and Islam.”

Emmanuel Akyeampong, professor of history and of African and African American studies, Harvard University

Swahili was once an obscure dialect of an East African Bantu language. Today more than one hundred million people use it: Swahili is to eastern and central Africa what English is to the world. From its embrace in the 1960s by the black freedom movement in the United States to its adoption in 2004 as the African Union’s official language, Swahili has become a truly international language. How this came about and why, of all African languages, it happened only to Swahili is the story that John M. Mugane sets out to explore.

The remarkable adaptability of Swahili has allowed Africans and others to tailor the language to their needs, extending its influence far beyond its place of origin. Its symbolic as well as its practical power has evolved from its status as a language of contact among diverse cultures, even as it embodies the history of communities in eastern and central Africa and throughout the Indian Ocean world.

The Story of Swahili calls for a reevaluation of the widespread assumption that cultural superiority, military conquest, and economic dominance determine a language’s prosperity. This sweeping history gives a vibrant, living language its due, highlighting its nimbleness from its beginnings to its place today in the fast-changing world of global communication.


John M. Mugane is the professor of the Practice of African Languages and Cultures and the director of the African Language program in the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard University.

Order a print copy

Paperback · $23.96 · Add to Cart

Retail price: $29.95 · Save 20% ($23.96)

Hardcover · $60 · Add to Cart

Retail price: $75.00 · Save 20% ($60)

Download an electronic copy

Amazon Kindle Store Barnes & Noble NOOK Google Play iBooks Store

Availability and price vary according to vendor.

Share    Facebook icon  Email icon

Requests

Desk Copy Examination Copy Review Copy

Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center

Downloads & Links

Picture

PDF

In Series

Africa in World History

Related Subjects

Linguistics · African Studies · World History · Swahili

Formats

Paperback

978-0-89680-293-3
Retail price: $29.95, S.
Release date: Jul. 2015
332 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights: World

Hardcover

978-0-89680-292-6
Retail price: $75.00, S.
Release date: Jul. 2015
332 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights: World

Electronic

978-0-89680-489-0
Release date: Jul. 2015
≅ 332 pages
Rights: World