The Priceless Role of Training in Interpretation at Languages Africa

Languages Africa Translations and Interpretation Training by Mpasua Msonobari

I smiled as I punched my fist in the air and continued reading the email. I remembered Mahatma Gandhi's words, 'Train as if you were to live forever.'

For the first time since the founding of Languages Africa in 1999, I could confirm to a potential client that we had fully trained and certified Oromo interpreters in-house. Oromo is a Semitic language that is spoken by millions of people in Kenya and Ethiopia. You will be shocked to learn that in Ethiopia it is the most widely spoken language by nearly 35% of its population.

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Previously, I was never able to give this confirmation because we had not yet recruited several of our prospective interpreters, as we waited for them to complete their training. Due to a dire scarcity of interpretation training and resource centres in Africa, we had been having a tough time finding fully trained interpreters. A quick Google search will confirm this to you. That’s when we decided to be part of the solution. John F. Kennedy’s popular quote in his inaugural address of 'Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,' could not be more true than this! At Languages Africa we had realised the presence of very many halves baked if not raw African Languages interpreters in terms of training and we wanted to be part of the solution of ensuring that they were trained, certified and ready to also be part of Languages Africa’s wider vision of helping the world to converse with Africa through African languages professionally!

Zanzibar is one of the oldest coastal settlements on Africa’s East Coast. Long before the USA was inhabited by non-native Americans, Zanzibar was already a thriving civilization. Bantu speakers settled there at the beginning of the very first Millennium. Nine hundred years later, merchants from other parts of the world began trooping into Zanzibar. They came from countries like India, Persia and the Gulf region. They eagerly purchased East African goods like ivory, gold, and ambergris. Swahili was already being spoken at that time and must have featured prominently in their trade. By the time the Portuguese arrived in the early 1500s, Swahili was already the lingua franca of the region.

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It is because of Zanzibar’s illustrious history that Languages Africa decided to establish there some roots. Firstly, nearly a decade ago, we established there two offices to serve the ever increasing need of Tanzania Swahili translations and Tanzania Swahili interpretations. Toadd to that a few years ago, we reached out to Zanzibar School of Interpretation, which was still in its formative stages. The relationship that we established with them has birthed years of intensive collaboration in training and certifying African Languages interpreters. In the legal interpretation course, they are taken through courses like: Introduction to Legal Interpreting & Importance of a Legal Interpreter; Legal Interpreter Code of Conduct, Standards & Ethics; Creating, Understanding and Mastering Legal Glossaries; Impartiality & Dress Code as a Legal Interpreter; Legal interpretation for a Criminal Trial and Jury and much more.

These interpretation modules are covered in an elaborate and pragmatic fashion. Anything less than that would not suffice.

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At Zanzibar School of Interpretation they value so much the "Do" verb. Any new Interpretation concept the African Languages Interpreters learn, they do it over and over again until it becomes their second nature. As Aristotle once said, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” The Training Modules run for between 1-3 months therefore, four times in a year the exclusive African Languages Zanzibar School of Interpretation churns out an average of 100 Interpreters into the job market. We are ready and willing to partner with other Training and Angel Investor partners in scaling this to having even more beneficiaries to this programme. A big portion of these fully baked and experienced African Languages Interpreters are absorbed by Languages Africa even as others kick start their own freelance opportunities in African Languages Interpretations and Translations. Some of the notable English to Swahili Interpreters, English to Kinyarwanda Interpreters, English to Tigrinya Interpreters and Other African Languages Interpreters can be traced back to either Zanzibar School of Interpretation or Languages Africa. This is so much so that some rogue Language Service Providers have found a ‘come we stay’ kind of Interpreter relationship with some of our rogue interpreters and translators but offcouse your guess is as good as mine, such clandestine working relationships never last due to the stinking unprofessionalism and misconduct of both parties and that has left Languages Africa even stronger as it empowers thousands of young and middle aged African professionals in the powerful and promising African Languages Interpretation industry.

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Interpretation is such a demanding, yet thrilling job that is full of twists and turns that can only be navigated successfully if one is sufficiently trained and certified. For instance, a seemingly simple matter like dress code for legal interpreters can make a world of a difference, when they are doing an onsite Swahili Simultaneous Interpretation or a Consecutive Somali Video Remote Interpretation assignment. Similarly, interpreters must adhere to a code of conduct that cuts across boundaries not to mention them subscribing to The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act(HIPAA) regulations and standards.

At Languages Africa, we know that our interpreters cannot give what they don’t have. They can only give high-quality English to Oromo interpretations, English to Dinka interpretations, English to Kikuyu interpretations and much more if they have received high-quality training and certifications.
If you want to enrol as an African Languages Interpreter student at Zanzibar School of Interpretation share with us your details by clicking
this link and we shall direct you accordingly: Contact Us

Apart from Zanzibar School of Interpretation, we have also partnered with Kampamso Language Centre which is based in Nairobi, Kenya. I am also happy to note that, I founded the Language Centre in the late nineties and let it run as a separate African Languages Centre entity as I ventured fully into Languages Africa, the exclusive African Languages Service Provider.

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Kampamso Language Centre offers specialized African Languages Interpretation courses that include the following: Introduction to Healthcare Interpreting; Healthcare Interpreter Ethics; Healthcare Interpreting Laws and Regulations; Healthcare and Medical Interpreting Mechanics & Standards and much more. Given that they have a core competency in healthcare-related interpretation, they provide valuable training and certification in this field. However, it's important that they also train Interpreters in other fields such as legal, insurance, education, US Government and Social Services. At Kampamso Language Centre, they believe that professionalism and competence in African Languages Interpretations and Translations come not from age or simply being bilingual, but from education, learning, training and experience.

If you want to enrol as an African Languages Interpreter student at Kampamso Language Centre share with us your details by clicking this link and we shall direct you accordingly: Contact Us

When most people think about interpreters here in Kenya and many other African countries, these are the images that come to their minds: sweaty church interpreters in ill-fitting or baggy suits with dusty shoes frantically pacing a church’s stage as they interpret for English speaking preachers. On the corporate and NGO front, the image that people have of interpretation revolves around those soundless booths from whichwide-eyed and uneasy interpreters dispense their craft not sure of what they are doing to the dismay of their audience who keep frowning at their headsets as they fail to fathom whatever is being interpreted into English or the related African languages. Interpretation starts in private spaces even if it is only seen and heard in public spaces. Languages Africa is dedicated and committed to replacing those unprofessional, unethical, unversed and inexperienced images with professional, ethical, experienced and confident images of Congolese Swahili Interpreters, Dinka Interpreters, Somali Interpreters, Lingala Interpreters, Portuguese Interpreters, French Interpreters and all Other African Languages Interpreters doing what they like and liking what they are doing and participating to the Languages Africa’s vision of helping the world to converse with Africa!

Interpreters must do a lot of homework about the subject matter of their interpretation. That way, they will have an appreciation of an event’s overall themes. This also applies to private diplomatic or business meetings. For them to do that homework sufficiently, they need proper training and certification. The kind of training that paves the way for such African Languages interpretation excellence to become second nature to them.

Even as Languages Africa continues to grow and expand its footsteps around the world, we remain committed to training more than ever before. The good thing about learning and training is that no one can take it away from you and that is exactly what has happened to Languages Africa. By dispensing quality and top-notch African Languages Interpretations after proper and adequate Training, Languages Africa has earned itself long term clients and partners who no one can take away from. Although we rely on our training partners and other third parties to dispense the initial training, we conduct internal monthly refresher courses that are responsive to growing clientele needs through our full-fledged Training Department which is led by Jacky, a strict, detailed and yet easy-going Training Manager. That way, we have been able to remain on top of the game and ensure quality African Languages interpretation for all our clients all the time and any time.

Mpasua Msonobari is the CEO and Founder of Languages Africa, a seasoned Swahili and other African Languages Translator and OPI & VRI Interpreter who can be reached directly on his WhatsApp number +254 725 084 032 or you can simply shoot him an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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