African language study at Indiana University has a long tradition of excellence and provides support to Africanists in the humanities, social sciences, and professional schools. Since 1965, we have offered over 100 courses and tutorials in 40 African languages at the elementary, intermediate, and advanced levels as well as in Linguistics field methods courses. Languages taught since 1993 include Akan/Twi, Bamana, Chichewa, Chindali, Fulfulde, Hausa, Kiswahili, Kpelle, Lingala, Luo, Ndonga, Oku, Shona, Sotho, Wolof, and isiZulu.
Twi is a dialect of Akan, the principle language of Ghana. About 9 million people speak Akan, most of whom live in the Ashanti Region. Akan is also spoken in Côte-d'Ivoire. The Ashanti people take great pride in their language, since it reflects not only their culture but also the history of their great nation.
Bamana, also known as Bamanankan, is part of the Mande language family. Bamana is one of the most widely spoken languages in West Africa and is used by more than 26 million people, primarily in Mali, where it can be heard on the radio, in government offices, and in schools. It is also spoken by significant segments of the population in Burkina Faso and northern Côte-d’Ivoire, where it is known as Juula, as well as in Guinea-Conakry and Gambia, where it is called Malinké or Maninka. Additional speakers of Bamana live in Senegal.
Swahili, or Kiswahili, is the language of over 50 million people in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, as well as in parts of Somalia, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Comoro Islands. Kiswahili is the lingua franca of many of these countries and is the official national language of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Kiswahili is also used as one of the working languages of the African Union.
Wolof is the lingua franca in Senegal and belongs to the Atlantic branch of the Niger-Congo language family. It is spoken by over 3 million people as a mother tongue and by many members of other Senegalese ethnic groups as a second or third language. There are also many Wolof speakers in the neighboring countries of Mauritania and The Gambia.
Yoruba is one of the three main languages of Nigeria. There are about 30 million speakers of the language in the South Western part of Nigeria and other parts of the world. It has over twenty dialects, which show phonological and lexical differences. Some of these dialects are spoken around the border of Nigeria and the Republic of Benin and some parts of Togo. The language has also survived in Cuba (where it is called Lukumi) and in Brazil (where it is called Nago).
Aside from these various dialects, there is Standard Yoruba, which is used for educational purposes, (e.g., in the newspapers, on the radio, and in schools). Standard Yoruba is understood by speakers of the various dialects.
Zulu, or IsiZulu, is spoken by about 10 million people in southern Africa. It is a Nguni language, related to IsiXhosa, IsiNdebele, and IsiSwati. A major language of South Africa, it is also spoken in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Namibia, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Lesotho.
Kinyarwanda is the national language of Rwanda and is also spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in southern Uganda. It is a heritage language spoken by members of Indiana’s second largest refugee population (individuals originally from Rwanda and Congo). Kinyarwanda, a Bantu language, is closely related to Kirundi, a language spoken in Tanzania and Burundi.