Afifa Saburi
Black Studies

Elizabeth Kaganda’s Swahili courses at the University have brought together students interested in learning the culture and language of Tanzania. Initially, Kaganda organized an eight-week Swahili course, which she eventually worked on with April Langley, chair of the Department of Black Studies. Kanganda’s first course had seven students, but after connecting with the Honors College and Black Studies, her classes had almost 30 students.  

Jenifer Pilz met Kaganda during an MU Africanist Gathering meeting, where Kaganda told her she would like to incorporate Swahili into the program. The next week, some doctors said they were going to Tanzania and expressed an interest in learning the language. 

“At the time, I was the coordinator of the language resource lab in (the) Arts and Science building, and I gave them a room,” Pilz said. “There were some times that the rooms were free, and I let Elizabeth go in there and teach them Swahili.” 

Brailey White is a public health major and needed a diversity elective, but not many fit the criteria. She found the course through the MU Honors College and originally took it without knowing it was a language class. 

“I showed up just kind of thinking, maybe I’d be learning about Swahili culture, and then I was surprised (that) I’m learning the language,” said White, who then helped start a Swahili Club. 

Prior to teaching Swahili courses at MU, Kaganda was an attorney in Tanzania, where she advocated for those with HIV, helped citizens gain access to the justice system and translated laws for vulnerable citizens who couldn’t understand the version in English. 

You can learn more about Kaganda’s Swahili courses at MU here: