Kenyan Musician Who Speaks 16 Languages

  • Hellen Akoth Mtawali, a vocal coach, musician, and lecturer at Daystar University revealed that she speaks sixteen different languages which she learned through music.

    Speaking to, she highlighted the list of the sixteen different languages she speaks which include Zulu, Arabic, Ndebele, Sukuma, Shona, French, Lingala, Pidgin English, Kikuyu, Giriama, Swahili, English, Kamba, Luo, Kinyarwanda, and Luyha.

    Mtawali noted that she is extremely fluent in the local dialects but fully understands and partially speaks the international languages.

    " I speak all the local dialects in the list I have given you, but for the international languages, I understand them fully and speak a bit of each,” she revealed.

    She further noted that she lived in the slums where she acquired the knowledge of one of her other languages which is sheng’.

    Mtawali remarked that she was born and raised in Mathare slums where she lived with her brothers, whereby they would come up with sheng’ words.

    Their newly coined words would be used in the area and the church around Mathare 4A slums.

    “We would form sheng’ words with my brothers and we would use these words in a church at Mathare 4A. These words were very popular during this time,” she added.

    Mtawali mentioned that she learned French and Lingala while in school.

    “I learnt French in school and you know French and Lingala go together. So I learnt Lingala from French,” she indicated.

    Mtawali, who is a Voice Coach with Afrizo band, added that she acquired her inspiration from her father who is also eloquent in seven languages. 

    Here is an audio with some of the languages she speaks.