Introducing LPCA
LPCA Advisory Board
Using LPCA materials
LPCA now and in the future
How to contribute
Contact us

LPCA Editorials:
Texts and ownership
LPCA: Where are we?

explore the LPCA website:

Language and Popular
ulture in Africa


Important notice
(March 11, 2010)

All LPCA pages at are redirected to this page at our new webserver:
The LPCA site on the old webserver with URL has not been updated for some time now and will be taken offline in the near future ! If you are looking for a specific LPCA page, please use the hyperlinks in the lefthand column of this page.

(October 6, 2009)

Ten years ago we published an editorial “LPCA: Where are we?” in which we expressed hope that our website would “continue at least for the next five years.” It did better than that but now we must face circumstances that have changed. Vincent de Rooij has moved on to other research and publication projects and can no longer take full responsibility as the webmaster and editor of all components of LPCA. So far, it has not been possible to find an equally qualified and committed successor.

As a temporary solution for this problem we decided to focus on “Archives of Popular Swahili.” “LPCA Text Archives” and “Journal of Popular Language in Africa,”  past editorial statements, and bibliographies will be kept , as it were, in suspended animation. Johannes Fabian will take responsibility for preparing further material to be included in “Archives” and we hope that others will continue to submit texts in Katanga Swahili as they did in the past ( for inquiries contact J. Fabian: johfabian [at]

read our mission statement in French and Swahili
(14 January 2005)

Dear visitors to the site,

It is a pleasure to add a brief editorial in French and Katanga/Shaba Swahili. We are grateful to dr. Achille Mutombo for both versions. Concerning the text in Katanga/Shaba Swahili we had explicitly asked him to write as people in Lubumbashi would write who had no formal instruction in Swahili. We think that both our fellow linguists and the people whose language we are documenting in these archives will read this introduction with interest.
But we are aware that other speakers of Swahili may come up with certain orthographic and grammatical 'oddities' (documented also in Volume 6 of Archives of Popular Swahili). We thought it important to preserve these features, especially so because LPCA wants to be a place where Swahili is documented in all of its widely different varieties.
The reader will notice that spelling and word segmentation are variable. In part, this reflects the highly variable way in which Shaba/Katanga Swahili is spoken but it is also related to the absence of an authoritative spelling for this variety of Swahili.
With the help of the following brief (non-exhaustive) list of features typical of Shaba/Katanga Swahili writing, readers who are not familiar with this variety will be able to understand the text without great effort.

  • deletion of h-:
    arisi instead of hadithi
  • realization of interdental fricative -th- as -s-:
    adishi instead of hadithi
  • words written together where Standard Swahili separates them (or the other way around, see below):
    yakuanza instead of ya kwanza
  • verbal complexes are often written in an ‘analytical’ style, separating subject and object concords and tense-aspect markers from the verb)
    una soma instead of unasoma

  • noun prefixes are also ‘detached’ from their nouns
    ma barua instead of mabarua
  • palatization of -s- to -sh- (when followed by front high vowel)
    fwashi for Standard Swahili fasi
  • insertion of semi-vowel -y- and -w- in intervocalic position
    ushishikiye instead of usisikie
  • noun class 2 prefix ba instead of wa-
    bantu for watu
  • prenasalization of following -tu
    bantu for Standard Swahili watu
    kintu for Standard Swahili kitu
  • -l- and sometimes -d- replaced by -r-
    mbiri for Standard Swahili mbili
    arisi for Standard Swahili hadithi

Introducing LPCA

Language and Popular Culture in Africa is a web-based project set up by Johannes Fabian and Vincent de Rooij of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. The main aim of LPCA is to document and further the study of expressions of popular language and culture in Africa. This is accomplished in two ways. First of all, by making available, in LPCA Text Archives and Archives of Popular Swahili, texts that express and mediate forms of African popular culture, and secondly, by publishing the Journal of Language and Popular Culture in Africa which publishes studies of African popular texts.


LPCA Advisory Board

T. K. Biaya (Dakar) † July 2002 - read the obituary
Jan Blommaert (Ghent)
Arvi Hurskainen (Helsinki)
John Inniss (Dover, Delaware)
Bogumil Jewsiewicki (Laval)
Mubanga E. Kashoki (Lusaka)
Valentin Y. Mudimbe (Stanford)
Salikoko S. Mufwene (Chicago)
David Parkin (Oxford)
William Samarin (Toronto)

The LPCA Advisory Board is responsible for safeguarding the quality of the text archives and the Journal of Language and Popular Culture in Africa. The Board members advise on the contents and structure of the text archives and review manuscripts submitted for publication in the Journal of Language and Popular Culture in Africa. They may also solicit manuscripts for the journal and help locate materials that are to be included in the text archives.


Using LPCA Materials

You are welcome to search the LPCA collections for materials that are of interest to you. Researchers are invited to work on the text materials available at this site and submit research papers for publication in the Journal of Language and Popular Culture in Africa .

If you decide to work on one or more of the text materials, we would appreciate it if you informed us of this so that we will be able to add to each text a list of people working on it. In this way, you will be able to get in contact with people working on texts that you find interesting.

Please note that the texts made available here are protected by copyright: if you plan to publish parts of one or more texts, you are requested to contact us in order to obtain permission to do so. We would like to emphasize that obtaining permission to publish parts of the texts will normally be granted in all cases were the publication serves no commercial aim.

If you have problems printing or saving LPCA web pages, please read How to save and print LPCA web pages.


LPCA Now and in the Future

In this initial stage of the project, most of the texts available at this site will be texts collected in Katanga Province, DR Congo (the former Zaire), and spanning a period ranging from the late 1960s to the early 1990s. In the near future, more texts from this part of Congo and other Swahili speaking regions will be incorporated in the Archives of Popular Swahili.

We do not limit ourselves to Swahili, however. We will make available relevant texts in other Bantu languages, especially those that are used as lingua francas in urban centers. For an overview of all texts available here, check the Table of Contents page of the LPCA Text Archives. We kindly invite you to contribute texts yourself or help us locate relevant materials. So, if you know of any materials located in archives, private collections, or elsewhere, please let us know.

Apart from texts we will, in due time, also add sections to this site that focus on popular music, popular painting, and other forms of popular culture. These sections will contain sound and image files that will bring you in closer contact with African popular culture.


How to contribute

To accomplish the aims of this project, we are dependent on your help and collaboration. We kindly invite you, therefore, to bring to our attention relevant text materials that have remained unpublished or are otherwise hard to get. Such materials may include, for instance, private documents, such as letters, autobiographies, lyrics, religious tracts, out of print text collections, locally produced books, journals and magazines, or transcripts of field recordings.

If you wish to contribute texts to this site or if you know of materials that you think should be included here, please do not hesitate to contact us. The copyright of all text contributed to this site remains, of course, with the authors. This means that all texts contributed to this site of which you own the copyright will be removed from this site should you make a request to that effect.

Language and Popular Culture in Africa
c/o Vincent de Rooij
Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology
University of Amsterdam
Oudezijds Achterburgwal 185
1012 DK Amsterdam
The Netherlands
v.a.derooij [at]

Last revised/updated: 6 February 2018
Construction and maintenance of this site by Vincent A. de Rooij

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latest additions

Archives of Popular Swahili, Vol. 17
Swahili is elephant meat: A play by Mufwankolo and two members of his troupe, transcribed, translated, and commented by Johannes Fabian

Archives of Popular Swahili, Vol. 16
Churches proliferating – where will it end? A play by Mufwankolo and two members of his troupe, transcribed, translated, and annotated by Johannes Fabian

Archives of Popular Swahili, Vol. 15
“Prayer groups” in Lubumbashi: A conversation with Régine Tshitamba and members of her family, recorded 24. 6. 1986 at her home in Lubumbashi, Zone Kampemba, transcribed, translated, and annotated by Johannes Fabian