The Centre for Kiswahili Lexicography and Grammar has a long history. This Centre was established when the East Africa Language (Swahili) Committee was established in 1930. The main job of this Centre, since then, was to collect Kiswahili Language vocabularies and write dictionaries. The first Kiswahili – Kiswahili dictionary was published in 1935 and the subsequent dictionaries were published in 1939. These subsequent dictionaries were Kiswahili – English and English – Kiswahili dictionaries which were written by Frederick Johnson by the time he was a worker of the East Africa Language (Swahili) Committee. Later on, the East African Language (Swahili) Committee was shifted at the University of Dar es Salaam whereby its name was changed to the Institute of Kiswahili Research (IKR). Under IKR, the Centre started new initiatives to continue writing dictionaries. Thus, in 1981, it published a Standard Swahili Dictionary (Kamusi ya Kiswahili Sanifu - KKS), the first edition. After publishing ‘Kamusi ya Kiswahili Sanifu’ another initiative was initiated to write a big English – Swahili dictionary which was published in 1990. Moreover, the Centre initiated another job of writing a Swahili – English dictionary, first edition, which was published in 2001.  

Together with these fundamental dictionaries mentioned earlier, the Centre has coordinated the process of writing various dictionaries in specific fields such as Biology, Physics and Chemistry, Business and Economy, Law, and Medicine.

Present and Future Goals

The Centre’s present goals are:

To write and publish dictionaries of different kinds and languages versus Kiswahili, such as Kiswahili – French, The Mother Dictionary for Kiswahili Language.

To review the existing dictionaries which have already been published for new editions.

Achievements of the Centre

The Centre has succeeded to publish different dictionaries of different languages and specific fields. All these activities are done by staff members of the Institute and the participation of other experts from outside the Institute. Experts from outside the Institute have been participating whenever required so as to produce good dictionaries. Involvement of other professionals is done because the Institute does not have professionals in all fields. For instance, when writing the Medicine Dictionary, doctors were consulted and Chemistry, Biology and Physics dictionaries, professionals in these fields were involved. Moreover, when writing Kiswahili – Kinyarwanda dictionary, the native speaker of Kinyarwanda was involved in the project. Therefore, the Centre has also achieved to undertake its undertakings by participating different professionals

Expectations of the Centre

The Centre anticipates continuing writing more other different dictionaries such as Swahili – French dictionary, The Mother Swahili Dictionary, Literature dictionaries, Aquatic animals dictionary, etc. 

Dr. M. Shembilu.

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