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Centre of African Studies: Studying Africa


The Swahili Team

Teresa Poeta


Teresa focuses her work and research on Bantu languages with a special interest in Swahili, lesser-studied languages of Southern and East Africa and more generally issues of language diversity. She holds a PhD in Linguistics from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and her doctoral thesis ‘Reference to objects in Makhuwa and Swahili discourse’ examined the way speakers refer to participants in different types of narratives. For her research she spent an extensive period of time on fieldwork in Southeast Africa, especially in northern Mozambique. Teresa has been studying, researching and working with the Swahili language throughout her academic career focusing on topics such as Swahili proverbs and idioms or the use of applicatives in spoken and written Swahili. She has also been involved in providing subtitles for Swahili video materials and working as Swahili examiner for international examinations. She recently curated an Africa collection for the Fondazione Basso library in Rome and she is  currently  teaching Swahili undergraduate and postgraduate courses as well as Swahili evening classes at the Centre for Open Learning.


Albert Mkony

A Mkony

At Edinburgh, Albert has been teaching Swahili since 2015- both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

He also works with governmental and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that require the use of Swahili both orally and in the written form. Within NGOs, his work typically involves translation of project proposal requests, campaign and advocacy materials and training project officers and volunteers to grasp basic Swahili prior to their travels in East Africa. He also provides Swahili voiceovers for local and national charities and has worked as an interpreter for local councils. He remains closely affiliated with the Tanzania diaspora community in the United Kingdom.

In terms of Albert’s approach to teaching Swahili, he believes that language is a verbal expression of culture and to interact with a language means to do so with the culture which is its reference point- more so in East Africa where the culture is largely built on oral literature.  Consequently, he endeavours to infuse this larger framework of culture in his teaching.

As a native Swahili speaker, Albert’s advice to his students has always been that “Swahili is an evolving growing language, several new words and phrases are being added to the mainstream lexicon on regular basis. Therefore, if you want to keep your Swahili up to date, try to regularly follow what is happening in Tanzania and East Africa as a whole.”

Other than Swahili, Albert works as a researcher and tutor on wide ranging undergraduate courses including Africa in the Contemporary World, International Development, Aid and Humanitarianism and International Cooperation in Europe and Beyond. Outside academia, he serves on the Editorial Advisory Committee for Tanzanian Affairs; an influential news and current affairs magazine issued three times a year by the Britain Tanzania Society. He also writes for Africa is a Country blog and VijanaFM blog- leading intellectual voices platforms in the African online media sphere. He writes on the issues of governance, democracy, globalization, international cooperation, culture and development.