Keynote speakers

Prof. Dr. Anne Storch
University of Cologne

Research focus:
African languages, in particular Benue-Congo, Nilotic and the Atlantic area. Fieldwork in Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda. My research combines typology, description, cultural and social histories of languages and the semiotics of linguistic practices. I have contributed widely to the analysis, description and documentation of registers and choices, and focus on African languages not as discrete entities but as ways of speaking and parts of flexible and complex repertoires. I’m particularly interested in epistemic language, local metalinguistic knowledge, indirect communication, meaningful variation and vagueness in language.

Professor Rajend Mesthrie
University of Cape Town, South Africa
Research focus:

Linguistics generally; more specifically, Sociolinguistics, with special emphasis on language and social change, examining sociolinguistic practices “from below” in relation to:

  • Multilingualism and language contact,
  • Sociolinguistic variation and change,
  • Sociophonetics of English in post-apartheid society,
  • Sociolinguistic theory,
  • Social history & dialect lexicography.

Professor Okoth Okombo
University of Nairobi


Professor Okoth Okombo holds a Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. degrees in Linguistics and African Languages, all from the University of Nairobi. He was the 1977 winner of the Gandhi Best Student Prize in the Faculty of Arts upon his graduation with a B.A. (First Class Honours) as a Linguistics Major. After obtaining his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees, he secured a teaching position in the same university and grew in his career to become a (full) Professor in 1999. Two years later, in October 2001, he delivered his professorial inaugural lecture titled “Language Policy: The Forgotten Parameter in African Development and Governance Strategies.” Professor Okoth Okombo has published widely on issues concerning African languages and contributed passionately to policy debates and decisions, some of which influenced the current Constitutional provisions on language in Kenya. During his teaching career covering various aspects of linguistics and African languages, Professor Okoth Okombo has inspired and supervised students working on emerging urban languages especially the Sheng phenomenon in Nairobi.