The History of the Institute


The Institute of Kiswahili Studies (IKS) of the University of Dar es Salaam is an institution bestowed with the responsibility to teach, conduct research and offer professional consultancy services on Swahili language development. IKS is therefore responsible for teaching and conducting research in all aspects of the Swahili language, Literature and Culture with special reference to the support of the contemporary and long-term objectives of the University of Dar es Salaam and the United Republic of Tanzania.

The history of IKS goes back to 1930 when it was known as the East African Language (Swahili) Committee which dealt with: 

  1. Standardizing Kiswahili used in official undertakings in East Africa; and monitoring its development in general. 
  2. Reading manuscripts, correcting orthography and issuing certification.
  3. Selecting books to be used in schools;
  4. Translating books into Kiswahili; and
  5. Conducting research on all aspects of grammar, lexicography and literature as well as publishing and disseminating research results

In 1961, the University of Dar es Salaam was established as a Constituent College of London University. Following this milestone, the Committee was shifted to this College from Makerere University where it stayed since 1954. In 1964, the name of the Committee was changed to the Institute of Kiswahili Research (IKR).

The Objectives of IKR were;

  • To conduct research on morphological, syntactic and phonological aspects of Kiswahili, Kiswahili sociolinguistics and dialectology;
  • To conduct research on lexicography and writing  Kiswahili and other Bantu languages’ dictionaries and books ;
  • To coordinate translation services for documents from the government and its institutions, industries and private organizations within and outside Tanzania; 
  • To conduct research on oral and written literature and culture in Tanzania and the whole East African region;
  • To cooperate with other organizations in developing Kiswahili and providing advice concerning various aspects of the Kiswahili language and Literature. 
  • To publish Kiswahili books and journals for school, college and university use; and 
  • To prepare strategies for enabling Kiswahili to become the medium of instruction from nursery to University levels. 
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