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What is the Kamusi Project?

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This is a page from the Kamusi archives. The information below may be out of date, and the links may no longer be valid. Please visit for current information. If you know of links or information on this page that can be updated, please let us know.

What is the Kamusi Project?

Kamusi is the Swahili word for dictionary. The Internet Living Swahili Dictionary is designed to fill a need in African Studies and East African education. Swahili is spoken by somewhere between 50 and 100 million people throughout East and Central Africa, making it by far the most widely spoken African language. It is the primary language of many millions, the language of commerce and primary instruction for all Tanzania and many parts of Kenya, and the most widely taught African language in the United States and Europe. English is the language of international trade and higher education and a national language of government in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. Up-to-date learning resources are in great demand by Swahili-speaking students of English and English-speaking students of Swahili. This project is producing a new set of dictionaries that will replace Johnson's outdated Oxford "Standard" dictionaries, expand upon the work of the Institute of Swahili Research at the University of Dar es Salaam, and remain current into the foreseeable future.

Using the Internet, the project draws on the minds of speakers and scholars of Swahili all over the world. One important aspect of this project is to produce a "living" on-line dictionary that can be updated constantly and available instantaneously from any networked computer anywhere in the world. Print publication is also essential for the project's work to be of use to most people in East Africa, where there are few computers and even fewer Internet access sites. Printed dictionaries will reach East Africa in two ways: 1) Computer users are encouraged to make and distribute printed versions of the project's electronic dictionaries, provided they always include the copyright notice and list of project participants, and that they never charge any more than their legitimate printing costs, and 2) The World Language Documentation Centre will arrange formal publication with an established press. Project participants implicitly agree that the WLDC has the exclusive right to arrange formal publication and that participants will receive no payment or royalties from publication, although participants will receive full recognition for their participation in all project publications.

The economics of Swahili publishing would normally make a satisfying new Swahili dictionary unlikely. The Kamusi Project is conceived as a way to pool collective resources to produce a better dictionary than would otherwise ever likely be written, while at the same time providing an electronic resource that can be of real use to Africans and people interested in Africa.



How to use the Swahili Discussion Forum


We do not provide technical support for the Swahili Discussion Forum. Please read this page for information that may answer your questions. If the discussion forum site appears to be completely out of service, please contact us and we will try to fix the problem right away.

To use the discussion forum, you must be registered with the Kamusi Project. Registration is fast and free, and we will never spam you or give away your personal information. You can register here.

We have five public folders. "How do you say" is the place to ask questions about how to say things in Swahili, or to discuss specific translations. "Ideas" is the place to make suggestions for how to improve the Kamusi Project in the future. "Edits" is the place to discuss particular dictionary entries - if you think an entry needs improvement, but you would like to discuss the entry with others participants before making changes in the Edit Engine, "Edits" is the place for you. "Africa" is the place to talk about history, travel, politics, or whatever else you would like to discuss - the focus of the discussion is usually East Africa, where Swahili is spoken. "Wanafunzi" is the place for students of Swahili to correspond with each other - if you are learning Swahili, you may not have many other people to talk with, so use the "Wanafunzi" forum to meet and talk with other learners.

Questions /content/what-kamusi-project

Kamusi GOLD

These are the languages for which we have datasets that we are actively working toward putting online. Languages that are Active for you to search are marked with "A" in the list below.


•A = Active language, aligned and searchable
•c = Data 🔢 elicited through the Comparative African Word List
•d = Data from independent sources that Kamusi participants align playing 🐥📊 DUCKS
•e = Data from the 🎮 games you can play on 😂🌎🤖 EmojiWorldBot
•P = Pending language, data in queue for alignment
•w = Data from 🔠🕸 WordNet teams

Software and Systems

We are actively creating new software for you to make use of and contribute to the 🎓 knowledge we are bringing together. Learn about software that is ready for you to download or in development, and the unique data systems we are putting in place for advanced language learning and technology:

Articles and Information

Kamusi has many elements. With these articles, you can read the details that interest you:

Videos and Slideshows

Some of what you need to know about Kamusi can best be understood visually. Our 📽 videos are not professional, but we hope you find them useful:


Our partners - past, present, and future - include:

Hack Kamusi

Here are some of the work elements on our task list that you can help do or fund:

Theory of Kamusi

Select a link below to learn about the principles that guide the project's unique approach to lexicography and public service.

Contact Us

We welcome your comments and questions, and will try to respond quickly. To get in touch, please visit our contact page. You must use a real email address if you want to get a real reply!

© Copyright ©

The Kamusi Project dictionaries and the Kamusi Project databases are intellectual property protected by international copyright law, ©2007 through ©2018, under the joint ownership of Kamusi Project International and Kamusi Project USA. Further explanation may be found on our © Copyright page.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.


Discussion items about language, technology, and society, from the Kamusi editor and others. This box is growing. To help develop or fund the project, please contact us!

Our biggest struggle is keeping Kamusi online and keeping it free. We cannot charge money for our services because that would block access to the very people we most want to benefit, the students and speakers of languages around the world that are almost always excluded from information technology. So, we ask, request, beseech, beg you, to please support our work by donating as generously as you can to help build and maintain this unique public resource.


Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to general questions you might have about Kamusi services.

We are building this page around real questions from members of the Kamusi community. Send us a question that you think will help other visitors to the site, and frequently we will place the answer here.

Try it : Ask a "FAQ"!

Press Coverage

Kamusi in the news: Reports by journalists and bloggers about our work in newspapers, television, radio, and online.

Sponsor Search:
Who Do You Know?

To keep Kamusi growing as a "free" knowledge resource for the world's languages, we need major contributions from philanthropists and organizations. Do you have any connections with a generous person, corporation, foundation, or family office that might wish to make a long term impact on educational outcomes and economic opportunity for speakers of excluded languages around the world? If you can help us reach out to a potential 💛😇 GOLD Angel, please contact us!