Members

Faculty

Koen Bostoen (°1975) has been a professor of African Linguistics and Swahili at Ghent University since 2011. His research focuses on the historical-comparative study of Bantu languages and on interdisciplinary approaches to the African past. He obtained an ERC Starting Grant for the KongoKing project (2012-2016) and an ERC Consolidator’s Grant for the BantuFirst project (2018-2022). Amongst others, he is the author of Des mots et des pots en bantou: une approche linguistique de l’histoire de la céramique en Afrique (2005, Peter Lang) and co-editor of Studies in African Comparative Linguistics, with Special Focus on Bantu and Mande (2005, RMCA), The Kongo Kingdom: Origins, Dynamics and Cosmopolitan Culture of an African Polity (2018, Cambridge University Press), Une archéologie des provinces septentrionales du royaume Kongo (2018, Archaeopress), The Bantu Languages, 2nd edition (2019, Taylor and Francis) and On reconstructing Proto-Bantu grammar (2022, Language Science Press). Publications
Inge Brinkman (°1964) is Professor of African Studies at Ghent University. Her research crosscuts the fields of African literature, popular culture and history with a focus on Kenya and Angola. For her PhD dissertation at Leiden University, she examined literature, identity and gender in Central Kenya. During a post- doctoral project at Cologne University, she studied violence and exile through fieldwork with refugees from South-East Angola. At the Leiden African Studies Centre, she carried out historical research on communication technologies, mobility and social relations in Africa. She has published several books and contributed articles to various renowned journals of African Studies. Publications
Gilles-Maurice de Schryver (°1971) has been research professor of African Linguistics at Ghent University since 2015, and extraordinary professor at the University of Pretoria since 2014. He holds an MSc in Microelectronic Engineering (1995), as well as an MA (1999) and PhD (2005) in African Languages and Cultures. In 2002 he co-founded TshwaneDJe HLT, and in 2006 he was a founding member of African Language Technology. He is the author or co-author of about 350 books, book chapters, journal articles and conference papers, mainly on Bantu corpus linguistics and lexicography. His publications also include award-winning dictionaries for Northern Sotho, Zulu and Xhosa, published with Oxford University Press, as well as various online dictionaries, amongst others the most popular one for Swahili. Publications
Maud Devos (°1974) is a researcher at the Royal Museum of Central Africa and a Visiting Professor of Swahili at Ghent University. Her main research interest lies in descriptive linguistics focusing on coastal Mozambican Bantu languages that were once part of the larger Swahili world. She also investigates grammaticalization processes in Bantu languages mainly pertaining to the expression of negation (negative stacking, prohibition, negative existence and not yet), mood and modality, focus and location. Publications

Post-doctoral scholars

Peter Coutros (°1986) has been a postdoctoral researcher with the BantuFirst project since early 2021. He received his PhD in anthropology from Yale University in 2017. For his dissertation, he directed the DARE project, focused on the  reconstruction of the Late Stone Age/Early Iron Age socio-ecological landscape of the Diallowali site system in northern Senegal. He was previously a visiting assistant professor of archaeology at Wesleyan University and a postdoctoral fellow of archaeology at the University of Puget Sound. He has particular interest in ceramic seriation, resilience, and the social impacts of climate change. In addition to Senegal, he has conducted archaeological and palaeoenvironmental research in Mali, Mauritania, Kenya, Madagascar, Peru, Guatemala, and Mongolia.

Jessamy Doman (°1983) has been a BantuFirst postdoctoral researcher since early 2022 to work on the reconstruction of diets and environments. She obtained her PhD from the Department of Anthropology, Yale University, in 2017. She led several expeditions in Kenya with the Baringo Palaeontological Research Project (BPRP), resulting in a new understanding of the environmental context of early human evolution and developing novel methods in palaeoecological reconstruction. Her past research projects include Miocene-Pliocene faunal and human evolution in Africa and its climatic backdrop; extinction and replacement across the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary; social and environmental transitions in Holocene West Africa; repatriation of Native American artifacts and remains under the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act; and the use of natural history collections in the study of climate change patterns. She worked as a forensic anthropologist at the Defense POW MIA Accounting Agency, utilizing DNA and isotope sampling and osteological analysis to identify and repatriate unaccounted-for US service members.

Heidi Goes (°1976) has Bachelor (1997) and Master (1999) degrees in African Languages and Cultures from Ghent University with a MA thesis on the Esperanto-movement in Africa, which she published as a book titled Afero de Espero (2007) along with a number of articles and a book (Movadaj insuletoj, 2018) about the history of the Esperanto-movement in Indonesia. In 2022 she obtained her PhD at Ghent University on phonological and morphological variation in the Kikongo Language Cluster (West-Coastal Bantu) with a special focus on Cabinda. Since 2020, she has been teaching assistant in African Linguistics within the UGent African Languages and Cultures program. Publications

Hilde Gunnink (°1989) is a postdoctoral researcher conducting an FWO-funded project on prehistoric language contact between Bantu and Khoisan languages in Southern Africa. She obtained her PhD in 2018 at Ghent University. Her dissertation provides a grammatical description of the previously underdescribed Bantu language Fwe, spoken in Zambia and Namibia. She is also affiliated with Leiden University as a lecturer in linguistics and African languages and cultures. Her research interests are descriptive and historical linguistics of Bantu languages, as well as language contact between Bantu and non-Bantu languages in the past and present. Publications
Guy Kouarata (°1969) has been a postdoctoral researcher in linguistics within the BantuFirst project since the end of 2020. In 2014 he obtained his PhD in Linguistics from the Lyon 2 University. His dissertation focused on the phonological and morphological reconstruction of Proto-Mbochi (Bantu, C20). With 20 years of experience in linguistic research, Guy Kouarata has worked as a postdoctoral researcher for the BULB project at the LPP lab in Paris (CNRS), for KongoKing project at Ghent University and with SIL-Congo. Since 2005, he has been a lecturer at the University Marien Ngouabi in Brazzaville. Having worked on various Bantu languages of Congo-Brazzaville, including Bekwel (A80), Teke (B70), Lingala (C30), Mbochi (C20) and Beembe (H10), his work focuses on the dialectology, lexicography, phonology, spelling, grammar, documentation and reconstruction of Bantu languages.
Minah Nabirye (°1972) is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Languages and Cultures of Ghent University. She is conducting a BOF-funded project on duplication processes in Lusoga morphosyntax. She obtained her PhD in 2016 at Ghent University. Her  dissertation provides a description of a  corpus-based grammar of Lusoga – a Bantu language spoken by roughly 3 million people in Eastern Uganda in the kingdom of Busoga. She is affiliated to Kyambogo University in Uganda where she is part of the team that trains teachers of the indigenous languages taught in primary and secondary schools. Her research  mostly focuses on language documentation and description plus the use of corpora in the study of lexicography, grammar and morphosyntax. Publications
Sara Pacchiarotti (°1982) was a postdoctoral researcher within the BantuFirst project until the end of October 2020. She is passionate about historical linguistics and diachronic language change in general. As a member of the BantuFirst project, she focused on the internal classification of West-Coastal Bantu languages based on shared phonological innovations. She is currently carrying out FWO-funded post-doctoral research on morphological reconstruction and morphosyntactic change within West-Coastal Bantu. In 2017 she obtained her PhD in Linguistics from the University of Oregon. A revised version of her dissertation on Bantu applicative constructions involving *-ɪd, with special emphasis on “misbehaving” applicative forms in Tswana, was published in the Stanford Monographs in African Languages series in 2020. Besides West-Coastal Bantu languages spoken in the homeland such as Ngwi B861 [nlo], Sara has worked on Bribri [bzd] (Chibchan, Costa Rica) and Mòoré [mos] (Gur, Burkina Faso). Publications

PhD students

Lorenzo Maselli (°1996) is a FWO PhD fellow associated with the BantuFirst project whose main research interests lie within the fields of acoustic phonetics, articulation, phonological theory and typology, language documentation and African linguistics. After obtaining a BA degree in Italian studies from Università degli Studi di Padova (partner institution: Scuola Galileiana di Studi Superiori), Lorenzo moved to Pisa to study at the Scuola Normale Superiore (taking classes in phonetics and general linguistics). During this time, Lorenzo had the opportunity to do fieldwork in Ethiopia and take classes at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris and at the University of California – Davis (LSA 70th Summer Institute). After graduating, Lorenzo moved to Paris for a year as an invited researcher at LLACAN, focussing on the phonetics of some Nigerian and Ethiopian varieties. Lorenzo is now working on the phonetic documentation of undescribed Bantu varieties spoken by some hunter-gatherer and farmer communities of the Southern Congolian forest-savannah mosaic.

Sifra Van Acker (°1994) is a PhD student within the BantuFirst project. She studied African Languages and Cultures at Ghent University, where she obtained her Master degree in 2018. She did linguistic research for her BA and MA dissertation. She made a documentation and description of Kisamba (L12a), a language belonging to the Kikongo Language Cluster. Apart from some basic vocabulary lists collected for genealogical classification, neither Kisamba documentation nor description were available before this research. For this research she conducted linguistic fieldwork from August up to October 2016 in the Kwilu province in the DRC. Publications

Former and associate members

Mary Zacharia Charwi (°1971) has permanent affiliation with the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) in the Department of Languages and Literature of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Dar es Salaam University College of Education (DUCE). She holds a PhD in African Linguistics from the University of Bayreuth, Germany and a MA (Linguistics) and BA (Education) from UDSM. Currently, she is Assistant to the Principal at DUCE. She teaches Swahili linguistic courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels: Swahili Morphology, Swahili Syntax, Swahili Semantics & Pragmatics, and Swahili Lexicography. Her area of research/consultancy specialization is Bantu Linguistics, more specifically Bantu Morphosyntax, Swahili Morphology, Swahili Syntax, Swahili Semantics & Pragmatics, and Bantu Lexicography. Before joining DUCE, Mary Charwi spent 17 years teaching in Primary School. Publications

Bernard Clist (°1958) has been conducting archaeological research in and on Central Africa since 1980. He has been Head of the Archaeology Department at the International Center for Bantu Studies in Libreville (CICIBA, Gabon, 1985 – 1996), did his PhD (2005) on the Neolithic to Iron Age periods of north-west Gabon, and carried out fieldwork in Angola, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Madagascar, and Zambia. Between 2012 and 2016, he co-ordinated the archaeological research on the Kongo kingdom with fieldwork in the DRC (2012-2015), and labwork in Angola, Belgium and Portugal. He was a postdoctoral researcher within the BantuFirst project until the end of September 2019. Publications

Sebastian Dom (°1990) got his BA, MA and PhD degrees in African Languages and Cultures from Ghent University. In 2018 he defended his PhD titled “Bantu verbal derivation and tense/aspect from a historical-comparative perspective: the Kikongo Language Cluster and beyond”. He currently is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Gothenburg. He specializes in the descriptive, comparative and historical study of Bantu languages. His research focuses on Bantu verbal morphosyntax and morphosemantics, in particular tense, grammatical and lexical aspect, valency, transitivity, and voice. Publications

Jean-Pierre Donzo Bunza Yugia (°1963) is Professor of African Linguistics at the Institut Supérieur Pédagogique de la Gombe (Kinshasa / DR Congo). He obtained his joint PhD in African languages and Cultures at Ghent University and the Université Libre de Bruxelles (2015). He taught Lingala at Ghent University (Lingala II, 2021). His research focuses mainly on the descriptive linguistics and historical-comparative linguistics of the Bantu and Ubangian languages  as well as the documentation of endangered languages, especially those of pygmies of the DR Congo. Since 2009, he also works on lexicography, terminology and literacy tools as member of the DR Congo team for RAMAA, a UNESCO project and an institute for lifelong learning. Publications

Rozenn Guérois (°1985) is a researcher in African Linguistics at the LLACAN (Langage, Langues et Cultures d’Afrique) lab of the National Centre for Scientific Research of France (CNRS, UMR 8135) at Villejuif (Paris). She was a BOF-funded postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Languages and Cultures of Ghent University. Her 3-year research post-doctoral project consisted of comparing passive constructions in Bantu languages, and developing a typology of this voice phenomenon within Bantu. Prior to this, she was a postdoctoral research assistant in the Leverhulme-funded project Morphosyntactic variation in Bantu: Typology, contact and change. As part of her PhD research, she wrote a grammar of Cuwabo (2015, Université Lyon 2). Her research focuses on the morphosyntactic study of Bantu languages from a descriptive and typological point of view. Publications

Wannes Hubau (°1985) studied Bioscience Engineering (Land- and Forest management) at Ghent University (Belgium), where he earned his Magister degree in 2008. For his PhD (2008-2013) he explored ancient charcoal as a natural archive for vegetation and disturbance history in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2013-2014 he was a postdoctoral research fellow on the ERC-funded project T-FORCES (Leeds University, UK). During 2015-2018 he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Africamuseum (Tervuren, Belgium). He was a postdoctoral researcher within the BantuFirst project until the end of July 2020. In the course of his career, he studied vegetation responses on climate change at several timescales. Through charcoal and tree-ring analysis, he untangles tropical forest species turnover and tree age structure over the last hundreds and thousands of years. Through replicated tree measurements in permanent tropical forest inventory plots, he reconstructs the evolution of the tropical forest carbon sink over the last four decades, and predicts the future of the carbon sink under Earth’s changing environmental conditions. He led more than 10 field expeditions in four African tropical countries (Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, D.R.Congo). Publications

Mandela Kaumba Mazanga (°1988) is assistant professor at the University of Lubumbashi, where she got a MA in Cultural History. In 2022 she obtained her joint PhD degree at Ghent University (UGent) and Brussels University (ULB) with a PhD dissertation focusing on the ethnography, museology and archaeology of Kongo pottery from the 19th until the 21st century  as part of the  KongoKing project. As part of this PhD research, she did extensive fieldwork in the Kongo-Central Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Northern Angola. Publications

Michaël Kasombo Tshibanda (°1958) holds a PhD in African Linguistics and Literatures from the University of Lubumbashi (UNILU, 2009) in the DRC. His doctoral dissertation is a description of Kanincin, a variety of Ruwund (L53) and focuses on its tonal system. Since his PhD he has been a lecturer in theoretical Bantu linguistics, Bantu phonetics, general linguistics, African linguistics, lexicology and onomastics of Bantu languages and contrastive analysis of foreign and Bantu languages. He was promoted Associate Professor in 2010 and Professor in 2015 at the Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences of the University of Lubumbashi where he acted as the dean (2017-2019). His field research goes beyond the Ruwund area, his native area, and reaches towards the neighboring Kanyòk (L32) and the South Katanga Swahili (G42) languages, not to mention other Bantu languages. Now he also acts as the university cooperation manager at the office of the UNILU Rector. Publications

Deo Kawalya (°1980) is a Lecturer at Makerere University, in the School of Languages, Literature and Communication. He obtained his PhD at Ghent University, while at the UGent Centre for Bantu Studies (BantUGent). His main interest is in corpus studies of modality for the Bantu languages in general, and for his native language Luganda in particular. His earlier work covers Bantu lexicography, both practical and theoretical. Publications

Joseph Koni Muluwa (°1964) obtained his PhD degree from the Université libre de Bruxelles (Belgium) in 2011 and subsequently was post-doctoral researcher at the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren (Belgium) and at Ghent University (Belgium). In 2016-2017 he was a visiting professor at Ghent University. He currently is lecturer in African Linguistics at the Institut Supérieur Pédagogique of Kikwit (Democratic Republic of the Congo). His research focuses on Guthrie’s B80 West-Coastal Bantu languages, many of which are endangered, and encompasses language documentation, historical-comparative linguistics, ethno-botany, and ethno-zoology. Publications

Igor Matonda Sakala (°1984) holds a joint PhD in African Languages and Cultures from Ghent University (UGent, 2017) and History, Art History and Archaeology from Brussels University (ULB, 2017), which he obtained as part of the KongoKing project. His PhD thesis focused on the the Inkisi Valley in the Era of the Kongo Kingdom and relied on historical, archaeological and linguistic data. Since 2018, he has been an Associate Professor at the University of Kinshasa (UNIKIN), more specifically at the Department of Historical Sciences. His teaching and research focus on African precolonial and colonial history, the early and more recent settlement and population history of the Congo, demographic history, historical archaeology, and ceramic traditions. Publications

Ferdinand Mberamihigo (°1971) obtained in 2014 a joint PhD degree at Ghent University (UGent) and Brussels University (ULB). His PhD dissertation focused on the expression of modality in Kirundi through a corpus-based approach. He is currently a lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of the University of Burundi in Bujumbura. In 2018, he got a 3-month short research stay at Ghent University within BantUGent. His research concentrates on Kirundi, with a special interest for modality, corpus-based studies and grammaticalization. He is also interested in Kirundi lexicography. Publications

Manoah-Joël Misago (°1975-2022) obtained his PhD degree in African Languages and Cultures at Ghent University in 2018 with corpus-based research on motion verbs and the expression of location in Kirundi. He is currently a lecturer at the Institute of Applied Pedagogy (IPA) of the University of Burundi in Bujumbura. His research focuses on Kirundi and Kiswahili, with a special interest for morphosyntax and comparative linguistics. He sadly passed away on February 25, 2022 and was buried in Bujumbura on March 5, 2022. Publications

Ernest Nshemezimana (°1976) is a lecturer at the University of Burundi in Bujumbura. He obtained his master’s degree in linguistics at the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL, Belgium) in 2010. He was granted a scholarship to pursue his PhD studies at Ghent University, where he obtained his PhD in African Languages and Cultures in 2016 with dissertation on the information struction of Kirundi. He has been working in the Kirundi-Kiswahili Department of the University of Burundi since 2007, first as a teaching assistant and after his PhD as a lecturer teaching Kirundi and Kiswahili language and linguistics courses. His research interests pertain to the description and analysis of Bantu languages, with a focus on Kirundi and information structure. Publications

Michel Onokoko Onyumbe (°1962) holds a master’s degree (1994) from the Institut Supérieur Pédagogique of Kananga (Kasai-Central Province, DRC). His PhD obtained at Ghent University in 2022 consists of a grammatical study of Cíbìnjì cyà Ngúsú, an undescribed Bantu language from the Kasai-Central Province, for which he did fieldwork in the rural territory of Dimbelenge during three successive missions in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Publications

Dirk Seidensticker (°1984) studied prehistoric archaeology, paleo-anthropology and geosciences at the Eberhard Karls University Tübingen, where he earned his Magister degree in 2010. His PhD (2017) was devoted to the settlement history of the north-western Congo Basin. As part of the research group of Manfred K. H. Eggert from 2007 to 2014 he participated in research in Cameroon. From 2015 to 2016 he was part of a research project at the University of Cologne and carried out fieldwork in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Besides focusing on African archaeology, his work within the Digital Humanties includes data management and data base design as well as statistical analysis and reproducible research using computational methods. He was a postdoctoral researcher within the BantuFirst project until the end of September 2020. Publications