Bhala is an African language keyboard that is looking to give Africans a more authentic and less friction-filled typing experience. Most often African languages seem like an afterthought for the big smartphone makers and app developers. Languages like Shona, Ndebele, Xhosa and others are often there but features like predictive text and a comprehensive dictionary are lacklustre.
These are the problems that Bhala founder Sabelo Mhlambi (a research fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society) was trying to solve when he started out the project.
It’s safe to say Sabelo and his team have achieved their goal(s). I have been using the keyboard for a while and the AI-infused keyboard is really good especially predictive text in my native Shona. It has really improved my writing of the language and my understanding of how compound words work in Shona.
To learn more about what Bhala is and what languages and features are coming in future updates, we were joined by Njabulo Sandawana Bhala’s country director for Zimbabwe.
You can check out Bhala on Android with the link below:
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