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Special Programs


Swahili • language workshops

Swahili Language WorkshopsOn April, May and June, the Museum of African Art organizes the Swahili Spring Language Workshops for adults (16+), guided by Marija Panić, PhD and Rose Muthoni Thumbi.

Spring workshops last from April 6th to June 8th 2024.

The workshops are intended for beginners. Eventually, each student will be qualified for basic communication in Swahili.

There is a Swahili proverb: MTU NI WATU, which means A PERSON IS PEOPLE.

Swahili is constantly being changed by its speakers who continually develop the language by including words borrowed from other languages. Arabic, Hindi, Gujarati, Persian and, more recently, English are the most noted contributors. However, there are traces of Portuguese and German, not to mention the contributions made by local languages. In a way, Swahili is a reflection of all the connections that have, in a long historical period, been created among different peoples!

As a language, Swahili presents no serious difficulties for Serbian speakers: the language is more or less written as it is spoken and uses the same ‘continental’ vowel sound system found in Serbian. For those who are interested in learning this language for personal development, travelling or communication with business partners in Africa, Swahili is the right choice! Swahili-language workshops will enable participants to learn basic words and phrases in an engaging and interactive way.

The Spring Swahili Workshop 2024 will be led by:

Marija Panić, PhD

Marija PanićWorks as an assistant professor at the Faculty of Philology and Arts (University of Kragujevac), where she teaches French literature and culture.

As a linguist she has always been interested in Swahili and it is with great enthusiasm that she started learning it in 2015 at Swahili Language Workshops at the Museum of African Arts in Belgrade. She is very interested in African arts and literature and in the mutual influence of African and European cultures.

As a language teacher Marija has taught French, Italian and English at language courses, at grammar school, at British international school and at the faculty.

She has been teaching Swahili at the MAA from 2018.


Rose Muthoni Thumbi

Rose Muthoni ThumbiStudent at the Department of Chinese Language and Literature at the Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade.

Born in Nakuru in Kenya, a country in which 55 million people live, 42 ethnical groups who have their native languages, but Swahili is the language spoken by more than 80% of the population. After independence, the Kenyan government adopted the Swahili as a national language to unite different ethnical groups.

She speaks English, Swahili, Serbian, Chinese, French and local Kenyan language - Kikuyu. Rose loves sports and plays table tennis. She also likes to read novels.

As a native speaker and lecturer in Swahili language workshops at the Museum of African Art, she has been participating since 2020.


In the 2024 spring cycle of Swahili workshops, for two workshops the guest will be:

Benjamin Towett Chemarum

Benjamin Towett ChemarumA PhD student at the Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture of the University of Belgrade, Faculty of Forestry.

He is born in Kenya and has been interested in languages from an early age.

During his studies and education, Benjamin's essays written in English and Swahili have often proved to be the best.

As a native speaker and lecturer, in 2019 Benjamin participated in Swahili language workshops at the Museum of African Arts.



For more information about the workshop contact:

Ivana Vojt, MAA curator
e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
phone: 011/ 2651 654


Previous teachers at the Swahili workshops:

Galina Tudyk (2015 – 2017)

Amosi Peter Rwangaria (2015 – 2018)

Benjamin Towett Chemarum (2019)






Written by

Ivana Matić
Student of the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade
participant of the Swahili language workshops in 2017



Swahili language workshops poster
made by Marija Miljkovic and Ivan Miladinovic,
participant of the Swahili language workshops in 2018

Ngoma ya rangi

Ona ushairi.
Sikiliza rangi
na sikiliza mvua.
Ona upepo
na tafuta heri.

Ota hapa.
Ota sasa.

Tabasamu leo,
tabasamu kesho,
na penda.
Penda daima
na penda zaidi.

Ota hapa.
Ota sasa.

Amka na tabasamu,
penda na tumaini.

harufu ya mvua,
harufu ya upepo,
harufu ya maisha.