About us

Celebrating beautiful Swahili: A rich and diverse language

Sema Jambo stands at the forefront of promoting and raising awareness of the diverse Swahili-speaking communities spanning from the Clove Islands of Zanzibar and Pemba to Mozambique in the South of Africa. Kiswahili Day holds special significance in our mission.

WHY celebrate Kiswahili on July 7th?

The significance of July 7th traces back to 1954 when the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), led by Julius Nyerere, declared Swahili as a pivotal tool in the fight for independence. This historic declaration marked a crucial moment in the recognition of Swahili as a unifying language for the people of Tanganyika, now Tanzania, after its union with Zanzibar in 1964.

During the 1950s, the United Nations established the Kiswahili language unit of United Nations Radio, paving the way for Swahili to become the only African language within the Directorate of Global Communications at the United Nations. This global recognition underscores the importance and reach of the Swahili language on the international stage.

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11 May 2024

The effort to elevate Kiswahili to the world arena was championed by visionary leaders like the first President of Tanzania, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, alongside revered artists such as Siti Bin Saad, Kidude, Fadhili Williams, Fundi Konde, Daudi Kabaka in the 50’s and 60’s.

Taarab musicians of mid 60’s through to the 90’s, Matano Juma, and Mohamed Khamis Juma Bhalo, Malika and Siti Zuhura and the current crop of Brother Nassir, Kizare, Anwar Juma Bhalo,Sabah Salum, Issa Matona and UKHTY Riziki mesmerised audiences beautiful poetic lyrics and music.

Modern Swahili music pioneers like the Mombasa Roots Band, Them Mushrooms, and Safari Sounds Band have continued to contribute to the rich tapestry of Swahili culture.

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11 May 2024

In the contemporary era, extraordinary musicians like Diamond Platinumz and Sauti Sol have solidified their status as world-class performers, further amplifying the global influence of Swahili music.

We also pay homage to poets like Abdallah Mwasimba, authors and translators such as Ali Attas and Shaban Roberts, and broadcasters like Zeyana Hamdan and Ahmed Rajab Salim Juma, in the recent years Mariam Omar, Salim Kikeke, Wazir Hamsin and Zainab Aziz among many others, who have played pivotal roles in shaping and preserving the Swahili language and culture.

Notably, Miriam Makeba’s iconic cover of “Malaika” propelled the Swahili language onto the international stage, solidifying her status as Africa’s most respected icon and further showcasing the beauty and depth of Swahili culture to the world.


Building upon the resounding success of the MTM Awards, our parent organisation, we are thrilled to introduce Sema Jambo, a platform dedicated to uniting Swahili-speaking communities across the UK diaspora and beyond on a shared platform in the heart of the United Kingdom, London, annually.

Our aim is to provide a space for individuals to immerse themselves in the vibrant cultures, fashion, art, music, and cuisine of their ancestral lands. Through our standout cultural evenings, we celebrate the essence of community organisations, businesses, art, and culture among the diverse and rich Swahili-speaking peoples scattered across the globe.

Our founders boast East African heritage and have enjoyed successful careers in media, events, and entertainment both in Kenya and the United Kingdom.
The MTM Awards, a testament to their vision, was established in 2012 and has since flourished into a highly successful project in the United Kingdom and across international waters.

Meet the Team


Q Sheikh
The Founder

abdulhaQ aka Q, the visionary behind the World Kiswahili Day Celebrations in the UK & Europe, is a legendary figure in the realm of radio broadcasting. Affectionately known as Big Q, he has left an indelible mark on the industry, revolutionising radio presentation styles in Kenya.

Hailing from Kenya, Q’s career spans decades and is marked by numerous ground-breaking projects and events. As a celebrated broadcaster, Q has been a driving force behind various ventures, including the MTM Awards, Radio Mast FM, and Mast The Magazine.

His most recent endeavour, Sema Jambo, stands as a testament to his enduring passion for cultural celebration and community engagement.

Throughout his illustrious career, he has been instrumental in organising ground-breaking events, such as the 1987 All Africa Games Torch Relay Concert and the Battle of the Bands in Kenya.

Additionally, he has spearheaded numerous fundraising initiatives through his radio programs, showcasing his commitment to social causes and community development. Q’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to launch Capital Q Radio Productions, a pioneering Hindi radio network, further solidifying his reputation as a trailblazer in the broadcasting industry. His consultancy roles in radio projects, including Iqra FM and Citizen Radio/TV station, have further cemented his legacy as a visionary leader in media and entertainment.

With a career defined by innovation, passion, and a relentless drive for excellence, Q continues to inspire and empower individuals across continents through his dedication to promoting Swahili culture and fostering cross-cultural dialogue.

MTM CEO Junior Sheikh
Junior Sheikh CEO

Junior Sheikh’s unwavering dedication and passion for promoting excellence and achievements within grassroots communities are truly admirable. As the director and co-founder of the MTM Awards, he has elevated it into the United Kingdom’s premier Diverse Communities event, fostering connections and advocating for the importance of diversity.

In 2017, supported by Joe Hawkins and Raffi Sheikh, he organised the Great London to Bristol Ivory Belongs to Elephants Walk, a 10 day 200 kilometre walk, and creating awareness on the continued Slaughter of the African Elephant.

Beyond his role in MTM Awards, Junior actively serves on numerous local trustee boards, showcasing his commitment to community service.

Through his company, Jambo Media & Productions CIC, Junior collaborated with Q to organise the 1st World Kiswahili Day and subsequently founded Sema Jambo.

His vision for Sema Jambo is to showcase the communities from East & Central Africa to the world through the Glittering Gala Swahili Evening and the SJA Awards launched, July 7th 2023, at the Westminster Central Hall, London, honouring individuals from Swahili-speaking countries worldwide and those within the diaspora.

Raffi Sheikh
Raffi Sheikh

Raffi is our event production expert, overseeing the seamless execution of our events. Partnered with Joe Hawkins, he has been instrumental in the production of the MTM Awards since 2014 and now brings his wealth of experience to the World Kiswahili Day Events.

Raffi’s dedication to events extends beyond our organization; he was a key organizer and lead walker of the Great London to Bristol Ivory Belongs to Elephants Walk. Alongside his event expertise, Raffi is a professional personal trainer based in London.


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Judith Clark Admin-Director

As our Admin Director, Judith plays a pivotal role in managing group administration and serves as the liaison between the panel of judges and the directors for both the MTM Awards and SJA Awards.

With experience working at McCann Advertising Agency in Kenya and with the Red Cross in the South West, Judith brings a wealth of marketing and administration expertise to our team. Judith has been one of the pioneers of the MTM Awards since 2012.


Khadija Begum
Khadija Begum

Affectionately known as Dija, Khadija is our hospitality and culinary expert. She ensures that our events are not only well-organized but also cater to the culinary preferences of our guests. With a passion for food, Dija acts as the connect between our team and the caterers, ensuring that every dish is a delight. Khadija has been volunteering with the MTM Awards since 2014 and now brings her expertise to the World Kiswahili Day Evening. Outside of her volunteering work with us, she is employed in the aviation industry.

Together, Raffi, Judith, and Khadija form an integral part of our team, each bringing their unique skills and dedication to ensure the success of our events.

Brand  Ambassadors

Mariam Omar

Mariam Omar, a natural leader with 24 years of BBC broadcast management experience, spearheaded Africa TV, crafting four successful language programs that captivated millions.

Her adept leadership, deep understanding of audience dynamics, and interpersonal finesse drove the triumph of Swahili TV. A stalwart in radio, television, and digital media, Mariam’s expertise shines through.

Her accolades include prestigious awards in Kenya and the UK, including the Directors Merit award for Best Presenter. Currently, as a media consultant, she continues to excel, while also managing her thriving catering company, Tastecapeds, showcasing her versatility and entrepreneurial spirit.

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Dr. Hamza Hassan

Dr. Hamza M. Hassan, a dedicated NHS doctor specializing in general medicine, is the visionary founder and Chair of Tanzania UK Healthcare (TUHEDA). Committed to enhancing healthcare collaboration between the UK and Tanzania, he fosters vital links between healthcare institutions, working tirelessly for the well-being of people in both nations.

Dr. Hamza’s influence extends beyond healthcare, as he actively connects East African communities through various events and national day celebrations. Born in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, he fluently speaks Swahili, embodying a profound cultural connection to his homeland.


Amuri Musema

Jayne The Stylist Awino

Jane Awino Okoth, a hairstyling veteran with 26 years of expertise, embarked on her journey at age 8 in Mathare’s slums, her birthplace. Mentored in an upscale salon, her passion blossomed.

She develped  her skills globally, mastering hair extensions in the US, enriching Kenya’s beauty landscape. Through mentoring, she empowers slum-based hairdressers, fostering job creation and economic upliftment. Her organisation extends aid to cancer patients, providing wigs and pads, instilling comfort and confidence amid treatments.

Jane fosters unity among Kenyan hairdressers, promoting collaboration and support networks, enhancing social cohesion and benevolence.

World Kiswahili Day London 2024 is supported by…..