Chege Githiora’s nonfiction offering Sheng: Rise of a Kenyan Swahili Vernacular was launched at the British Institute in Eastern Africa in Nairobi on February 15, 2019.
Kenyan academic Chege Githiora who lectures in Kiswahili and Applied Linguistics at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) is the author of Afro-Mexicans: Discourse of race and identity in the African Diaspora. The good prof would introduce Kenyans to his latest publication titled Sheng: Rise of a Kenyan Swahili Vernacular at a well-attended event mid-February.
The new publication, which you can buy here, is summarised thus; Of interest to linguists, artists, ma-youth, scholars of urban studies, educationalists, policy makers and language planners who are grappling with the challenges of multilingualism and language of education in Kenya. The city of Nairobi is a rich context for the study of sociolinguistic phenomena. The coexistence of speakers of many different languages, further differentiated by socio-economic class, age and ethnicity provide conditions for the development of a mixed code such as Sheng, an urban variety of Kenyan Swahili which has morphed from a “youth language” into a vernacular of wider use. Sheng is a unique phenomenon in the study of linguistic change and innovation in an African context, a reflection of the ethnolinguistic diversity of Kenya, and language asymmetry created by socio-economic disparities. It also provides a window into understanding the processes of urban multilingualism, within the specific space structuring of Nairobi city. This book is a detailed account of the rise and development of Sheng, its linguistic structure, social functions, and possible future directions. The author’s analysis of its presence in newspapers, TV, radio and online, makes it clear that Sheng functions as a particularly useful lens through which to explore contemporary Kenya.”
Here are images from the launch courtesy of the event hosts.