Suba-Simbiti language

Suba-Simbiti (Kisuba, Kisimbiti) is a Bantu language of Tanzania. Suba-Simbiti is spoken by six groups in the Tarime region of Tanzania. This include Hacha, Kine, Sweta, Simbiti and Kiroba. The total number of speakers is in the region of 110,000.

Native toTanzania
RegionMara Region
Native speakers
110,000 (2011)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3ssc
JE.403 (shared w Kenyan Suba)[3]


Simbiti has a seven-vowel system with the vowels /i e ɛ a ɔ o u/ attested. However, only the five vowels / i ɛ a ɔ u / are found in verb roots.


Simbiti has a basic SVO word order and head-initial syntax. The language has 19 noun classes, including two locative classes.

There are three past tenses: a recent past, distant past and a general past. There is also a three-way distinction in the future: immediate future, a hodiernal future (used for events that will take place later the same day) and a distant future tense for events that will take place after today. Simbiti uses a range of simple and complex verb forms to encode a wide range of specific tense-aspect combinations. The progressive verb forms (past progressive, present progressive and future progressive) are all formed through the use of compound, auxiliary-based constructions, with the past progressive and the present progressive both exhibiting verb-auxiliary order.

Simbiti is one of a small set of East African Bantu languages that exhibit verb-auxiliary constituent order in restricted contexts. In Simbiti, the auxiliary appears after the verb in the past progressive and the present progressive tenses.


  1. ^ Suba-Simbiti at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Suba-Simbiti". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
Suba people (Kenya)

The Suba (Abasuba) are Bantu group of people in Kenya who speak the Suba language. Their population is estimated at about 300,000, with substantial fluent speakers. They migrated to Kenya from Uganda and settled on the two Lake Victoria islands of Rusinga and Mfangano, others also settled on the mainland areas including Gembe , Gwassi, Kaksingri of Suba South and Migori and are believed to be the last tribe to have settled in Kenya. Linguistically, the Suba are highly influenced by the neighbouring Luo, to the point of a language shift having taken place among large portions of the mainland Suba. As a result, their own language has been classified as endangered. Despite this language shift, the Suba have kept a distinct ethnic identity. The Rusinga Festival is held in December of every year as a cultural festival to celebrate and preserve Suba culture and language.

Suna Girango or Abagirango is another group that is usually erroneously grouped together with the Abasuba of Suba South and Suba North, since they also call themselves Abasuba. But, this is because Girango had a son named Musuba (Suba) and this Musuba had many children than his other brothers, for instance, Tegi and Gire hence descendants of Musuba calling themselves Abasuba meaning Musuba's people. Suba clans in Suna include Simbete, Sweta, and Wiga; and they have a clear and distinct ancestry that goes back to forefathers who crossed red Sea from Misri as illustrated below:


Their language is also distinct and very different from the Olusuba language spoken by the Abasuba of Homabay. The Kisuba language spoken by the Suna people is very similar to the Suba-Simbiti language that their brothers the Simbiti, Aga Sweta, Surwa and Hacha people of Tanzania speak. But, currently, those who claim to speak Kisuba actually speak igikuria (bunchari dialect) which is 85% lexically and syntactically similar to Kisuba (Kisimbiti).

Official languages


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