Dominant Languages in a Plural Society: English and Kiswahili in Post-Colonial East Africa

Alamin M. Mazrui, Ali A. Mazrui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Within the regional constellation of languages in East Africa English and Kiswahili have been the most influential trans-ethnic languages. The sociopolitical dynamics of these languages, however, have varied from one country to another along three interrelated parameters: (1) the confluence of indigenous, Islamic and Western traditions; (2) the divide, in power relations, between imperial, hegemonic and preponderant languages; and (3) the difference in the sociolinguistic values of sentiment and instrumentality. In this interaction of social forces the languages have played complementary and competitive roles and have acquired both convergent and divergent functions. As the East African multilingual context continues to favor a state of polylingualism, English and Kiswahili have been struggling for greater legitimacy, the former by getting increas ingly localized and the latter by seeking universalist credentials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-292
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Political Science Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1993
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Dominant Languages in a Plural Society: English and Kiswahili in Post-Colonial East Africa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this