Kiswahili writing competition for Mozilla Common Voice

When we think of our language, Kiswahili, we see it as a vibrant indigenous language tool in the continent with the power to mediate between other African languages without the necessity of a foreign language. With its adoption as an official language in the AU and other countries beyond the East Africa realm planning on adopting it as an official language, its potential has never been greater.

The language is, according to UNESCO, “among the 10 most widely spoken languages in the world, with more than 200 million speakers,” and this is indeed something that should motivate linguistic activists and writers to build more content for this massive audience.

As we anticipate saba-saba (July 7th), this time (historically the date has had a political tone in Kenya) with a celebratory tempo as we mark World Kiswahili Language Day, Hekaya Arts Initiative, powered by and in collaboration with Mozilla Foundation is running a writing competition solely in Kiswahili. The whole idea is to have more engagements and contributions for Mozilla’s Common Voice platform, more specifically for the Kiswahili database.

The submission is not themed to allow for contributors to be as free and creative as possible. It is also open to contributors from any place, not specifically the East African coast. It would be wonderful to read contributions from spaces that do not necessarily speak Kiswahili but have adopted it. How wonderful would it be to think of this beyond standard Kiswahili and receive submissions in the dialects that should receive as much, if not more, attention.

Contibutions can consider the following topics as well:

  • Music/song, dance and local instruments
  • Language
  • Culture and Heritage
  • Cultural objects
  • Beauty and aesthetics
  • Housing/Architecture
  • Indigenous health/traditional health practices
  • Literature and Linguistics
  • Traditional/historical livelihoods e.g. pottery
  • Social issues such as land justice, mass graves, Christianity and its effects on cultural practices
  • Local heroes/historical figures
  • History and archaeology

Guidelines for submission

  • Received submissions will be in the public domain. All work submitted will be under Public Domain (CC-0) license.
  • Participants must sign Contributions Agreement template found here
  • Text specifications:
    • There should be no digits in the written work such as 2021 instead use words
    • Abbreviations and acronyms like “USA” or “ICE” should be avoided because they may be read in a way that does not coincide with their spelling
    • The text should not use derogatory language
    • The text should not promote any form of gender harassment, abuse or violence
    • The text should not perpetuate or condone sexual harassment or biases
    • The text should be respective of gender diversities i.e. usage of correct pronouns
    • The text should not propagate violence and/or threats of violence
    • The text should be in a digital format not handwritten
    • The content must be your own, no plagiarized content

submission deadline is 30th April 2022 and winners to be announced on 13th May 2022.

All submissions should be sent to

Happy writing!


AU, Common Voice, kiswahili, Mozilla, UNESCO

Hekaya Initiative

Writing the East African Coast.

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