School of Arts

African Languages

African Languages


To work individually, collaboratively, creatively and efficiently, as part of a truly South African institution of higher learning, to:

  • Provide excellent and appropriate teaching in language study. Provide opportunities for and produce excellent, intensive and ongoing research that meets local, national and international language needs and standards.
  • Train professional language practitioners.
  • Be demographically representative of our country and serve the communities in our region and area. 


The Discipline of African Languages at UKZN aims to be a premier discipline of African Scholarship in language studies through excellent and innovative teaching, research and community service grounded in an ethically-based understanding of a multilingual South Africa in the global context. As from 2013, kiSwahili will be offered to students as well as SiSotho in the future.

  • In our teaching we are committed to the development of critical and responsible graduates who have linguistic, entrepreneurial and leadership skills.
  • In our research we envisage the extension and application of the various disciplines of the language sciences in ways that are innovative and responsive to the needs of our changing society.
  • In our service to the community, drawing inspiration from an African identity and taking seriously our responsibilities to the development of the African continent, we critically engage with society to advance social development in ways that foster a communicatively competent, multilingual, economically secure, well-informed and tolerant citizenry. Hence we will strive to empower the previously disadvantaged languages and endeavour to participate in the fight against HIV/AIDS through core curricula.

The Discipline of African Languages (previously the School of isiZulu Studies) has 16 staff members. Five of these members are based on the Pietermaritzburg campus, one on the Westville campus and the rest are on the Howard College campus.

IsiZulu is an essential option for a non isiZulu speaking student who enters the University of KwaZulu-Natal as over 81% of the people in KZN speak this language. UKZN is currently implementing a long term bilingual language policy, and IsiZulu is one of the languages of the University that will soon become the language of teaching and learning.

IsiZulu is the Zulu word for the Zulu language, and we use it interchangeably with the English phrase “Zulu language”. Thus an “isiZulu student” is a student who is studying the Zulu language, irrespective of his or her socio-cultural background; and isiZulu modules are modules of Zulu language or literature. A “Zulu student”, on the other hand, is a black South African mother-tongue member of the Zulu nation who may be studying any course in the University. It would be incorrect to speak of an “isiZulu person” if you simply mean “a Zulu”, so also is it wrong to talk of an isiZulu course if it is about Zulu history (i.e. NOT about language).

“Zulu Studies” is acceptable as some of our modules go further than language and literature and discuss Zulu religion, history, material culture, etc

Academic Staff Details