What we’re reading this week: Swahili, listener question, and more

"Kangas drying in Zanzibar"
“Kangas drying in Zanzibar” (Lall/Flickr)

We hope you heard our latest episode. We start with following up on our AFCON episode a few weeks back — the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon won the 2017 African Cup of Nations. (Just like we hoped.) Read this great short history of the Cameroonian national team. Fun fact: Everyone on the Cameroonian team who played in the 2017 AFCON final are younger than Paul Biya’s presidency. 

There were elections in Somalia, which now has a new president: former prime minister Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo. Fun fact: He’s a dual citizen of Somalia and the United States of America.

There was so much about Swahili in this week’s episode:

  • Last week in Rwanda, Members of Parliament approved a law that would establish Kiswahili as Rwanda’s official language, after Kinyarwanda, English and French. The law would facilitate Rwanda’s integration into the East African Community. This adoption also ties into our conversation on refugees from Ufahamu Africa’s last episode. Most Rwandans speak Kiswahili today because that was the primary language in the host countries that received them as refugees. We want to give a shoutout to East African countries as not enough is said of how these countries have and continue to open borders to people in need of refuge. For example, read this recent LSE Africa blog post about Uganda as a model refugee receiver.
  • Talking about showing some love, If you don’t already have plans for Valentine’s Day, the Poetry Translation Center in London is offering a workshop on translating Swahili love poems.
  • If you love the idea of learning Swahili, why not join this week’s podcast guest, Dr. Melissa Graboyes, in Zanzibar this summer? Dr. Graboyes co-directs a summer study abroad program in Zanzibar, where students can learn Swahili at all levels (including Swahili I). The program is run through the University of Oregon, but is open to students enrolled at other colleges and universities, too. There are a few spaces left, and you can learn more about the program here.

This week we had our first listener request from Houston Texas: what book recommendations do you have for an American middle schooler interested in learning more about Africa? We put the question out to our Twitter followers, and received a number of suggestions, some of which we list below. Most helpfully, we learned about Boston University’s Teaching Africa Library, which you can search according to topic and age range.

We welcome listener/reader questions — so please send them our way.

The musical artist we featured this week was singer songwriter Nicole Musoni. You can find her on SoundCloud and YouTube and follow her on Twitter at @NicoleMusoni. It was a struggle to pick which of her beautiful songs to air, and since we didn’t end up choosing this lovely cover of Redbone, we thought we’d share it with you today:

Finally, we leave you with a couple of interesting video responses to the U.S. President’s motto of America First:


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