Dikembe Mutombo on his journey to becoming multilingual

Jasmine Short

Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo has spoken multiple languages from a young age. We spoke to Dikembe about his language journey to becoming an internationally renowned professional basketball player, travelling the world in pursuit of providing humanitarian care.

Before Dikembe arrived in the USA he studied multiple languages at school in Kinshasa and was granted a scholarship to study at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., however school isn’t where his language journey began. In the interview Dikembe tells us how he spoke multiple languages at home, picking up Portuguese as a child so that he could talk to his Angolan neighbours whilst they played soccer together.

Dikembe graduated Georgetown University with dual degrees in Linguistics and Diplomacy, qualifications which he has put to good use through his humanitarian work, becoming the first Youth Emissary for the United Nations Development Program. In 1997 Dikembe created the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, dedicated to improving health, education and quality of life for those in his home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

‘Language learning is very fun because language is an art’

As a believer that language allows you to travel the world, Dikembe is currently learning both Chinese and Japanese, to find out why, listen to the full interview below:

Read another of our interviews with Cambridge law graduate, Hameeda Hussani, originally from Afghanistan.

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