John M. Mugane

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.

Listed in: African Studies

Photo of John M. Mugane

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.

“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