Where does Swahili come from?

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Kids singing a love song in Swahili

Swahili was a language that people spoke mainly in East Africa. Most people who lived in East Africa after about 900 AD spoke Swahili, although for some of them it was a second or third language instead of their first language. Swahili is a language based on Bantu, with a lot of words from Arabic and other languages brought into it by traders and other travelers. One famous bit of Swahili is the "hakuna matata" phrase from the Lion King movie.

African languages and literature
Ancient Africa
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Copyright 2012-2015 Karen Carr, Portland State University. This page last updated September 2015.

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