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About Us

 Brief History of the Language Association of Eastern Africa

The beginning of linguistic research in Eastern Africa can be attributed to the incentive provided by the Ford Foundation sponsored Survey in the 1960s- The Survey of Language Use and Language Teaching in Eastern Africa (SLULTEA) under the leadership of Professor Clifford Prator (1911-1993). The main objective of the survey was to provide information on language use, language situation, language attitudes, and language in education to enable policy makers to decide on the appropriate language policies for the member countries and to decide on the best ways to implement them. Note that a similar survey was also sponsored in West Africa under the leadership of Professor Joseph Greenberg. Several publications resulted from SLULTEA: Language in Uganda 1971, Language in Kenya, 1974, Language in Ethiopia 1976, Language in Zambia 1978, and Language in Tanzania 1980. Several departments of linguistics were also established in member countries. As a result of SLULTEA, the Language Association of East Africa (LAEA) was founded by members of the Language Study Group of Ethiopia, The Kenya Language Association, the Language Association of Tanzania, the Uganda Language Society, and the Zambia Language Group. The first executive Secretary was Mr. Derek Elderkin then at the University College, Nairobi. He later handed over, in 1974, to Christopher Wang’ombe of the faculty of Education at the University of Nairobi. The aim of the Association was to further scientific and professional study of language in all its aspects, to sponsor conferences, workshops and seminars and to produce a journal. The journal of the Language Association of Eastern Africa was founded to address part of the aim. Online evidence suggests that around 4 volumes of the journal were published with the last coming out in 1979.

According to Elderkin (pc), LAEA became dormant when the Ford Foundation closed the office set up for the survey in Nairobi which significantly reduced sponsorship to the association. Without a generous sponsor the executive committee meetings became rare, and eventually, the association became non-operational.  As a result, and bearing in mind that no association of Linguistics is found within the region, unlike other regions in Africa, we thought it wise that reviving this association would benefit not only Linguists within the region but other individuals interested in language study as well. 


    1) To further scientific and professional study of language in all its aspects,

    2)  To organize and facilitate regional linguistic conferences, workshops and seminars

    3)  To disseminate linguistic research findings through regular publication of a journal.

    4) To foster the development and maintenance of scholarly networks among linguists in the region and beyond.