Kiswahili Lessons

Kiswahili Teacher June 2008

Posted by on Jun 27, 2008 in Kiswahili Teacher | 0 comments

Kiswahili Teacher June 2008

Time Will Tell Barely visible at first, Mount Kenya rises out of the dark in an ever changing display of colors. “Saa ngapi” = what time is it?” “Saa moja asubuhi” = “one in the morning,” the smiling reply comes promptly. – Excuse me??? …but the sun is now rising steadily over the peaks of Mount Kenya so there surely must have been a misunderstanding – or is there? Saa Moja (Asubuhi) = Hour One of Morning Sunrise on the Equator – the beginning of a brand new day filled with adventures yet to be experienced. On the Equator, the sun rises and sets with twelve hour intervals. All year round, 6am and 6pm you can almost set your watch by it – 12 hours of daylight, 12 hours of dark. (You knew that from school of course)… All year round folks, no late summer nights or winter gloom. Come to think about it, it does make a lot of sense to call the hour when the sun is finally fully visible even over the highest peaks of Kilimanjaro, when the day here truly begins, the first hour in the morning. After lunch of course the “asubuhi” becomes “jioni” = afternoon Thru the day you keep counting until you get to 12 (jioni), which is the last hour of daylight. By seven pm of course the sun has already set, it is dark on the equator, and so this becomes the first hour of night: Saa Moja (Usiku) = Hour One of Night What then of midnight, you wonder? This is where you revert to reading your watch upside down so to speak. 12 becomes 6 and since it is dark: Saa Sita (Usiku) = Hour Six of Night (The Bewitching Hour!) So now you get the hang of it, just read the opposite on your watch, observe if it is light or dark, and bingo, you can tell the time the way East Africans do. Of course you have to be able to count to 12, in Kiswahili that is, about time you learnt that anyway: 1 = Moja 2 = bili 3 = tatu 4 = ine 5 = tanu asubuhi = morning 6 = sita jioni = afternoon 7 = saba usiku = night 8 = nane 9 = tisa 10 = kumi 11 = kum-na-moja 12 = kumi-na-bili Now, having learnt all that and double checked the opposites on your watch, what guarantee is there that you’ll make that date with your new African friend on time? Well here’s your excuse: blame “African time,” which, in these parts is accepted humorous license to give or take an hour. Or better yet:, if you are a linguist you could impress by quoting a Swahili proverb: “Kila jambo na wakati wake” = there is an opportune time for everything. Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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Kiswahili Teacher July 2007

Posted by on Jul 27, 2007 in Kiswahili Teacher | 0 comments

Kiswahili Teacher July 2007

A Friend in Kenya Here is a word you will soon need to use on your safari: Rafiki = Friend (pronounce: Rufeekee) Kenyans are a friendly lot. They have a great sense of humor and love to share a joke and a laugh. Most will be thrilled to have you for a new Rafiki. And just so you’re ready, here’s a little funny wisdom you can share now that you’re “rafikis” “Yes’m, old friends is always best, less you can catch a new one that’s fit to make an old one out of”. Happy hunting! Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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Kiswahili Teacher December 2006

Posted by on Dec 27, 2006 in Kiswahili Teacher | 0 comments

Kiswahili Teacher December 2006

Kiswahili Teacher selected a wonderful word for you, fit for this season: Nipe = Give A word often heard in Africa (nipe kitu kidogo = give something small) Not a beggars pray, here it is honest talk, heart to heart. In answer even the smallest gesture delights. A hug for a child, a warm smile for a lonely soul, Apples for Santa’s reindeer… Or whatever warms your heart, The gift is yours! Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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Kiswahili Teacher April 2006

Posted by on Apr 27, 2006 in Kiswahili Teacher | 0 comments

Kiswahili Teacher April 2006

This month, Kiswahili Teacher is venturing into Musical lyrics, motivated by the promise of spring, Valentines Day just past, romantic May just ahead… There is a famous Kiswahili song that, once heard, stays on your mind. Composed ages ago it is today as popular as ever: Malaika = Angel The song refers, of course, not to some supernatural saintly messenger of God, the conventional Image of a white robed figure in human form with wings and a halo. But rather to what we all need and wish for most in life: a guardian Angel of celestial purity to call our own, the invisible helper to drive away all our demons and pave the way for eternal happiness. And now we have our own little Angel here at the Conservancy in the form of a delightful little bongo-girl born in March. She was immediately adopted and given the name “Malaika.” Malaika, ya ku penda Mailaika….. The song goes Angel, I love you Angel….. And on we dream the age old dream of love. If you want to show your love by adopting or fostering a wild animal. Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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Kiswahili Teacher November 2005

Posted by on Nov 27, 2005 in Kiswahili Teacher | 0 comments

Kiswahili Teacher November 2005

All the talk on the street, even on the remotest path in Kenya these days is about… Bananas and Oranges! This time around it has nothing to do\ with good health or agriculture, it’s all about the new Constitution on the table, to be voted in or out at the November 21 referendum. NDISI = banana (pronounce: ndeesee) CHUNGWA = orange (pronounce : choongwa) The “yes” camp has chosen the banana as a symbol. The “no” camp has chosen the orange. Now with the keen sense of humor most Kenyans are equipped with, we are bound to hear some good measure of “fruit salad” jokes !! If you’re touring the country and eyeing some of the tasty tropical fruits offered at every street corner, be sure to get an equal mix of chungwa and ndisi or be jokingly accused of meddling in local affairs! More importantly, enjoy the fruits, the sights, the unique wildlife and the incredible hospitality of the people of this, “God’s country.” Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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Kiswahili Teacher September 2005

Posted by on Sep 27, 2005 in Kiswahili Teacher | 0 comments

Kiswahili Teacher September 2005

Africa at Night After your long summer recess, we hope you are ready for another Swahili word. We will let you off easy. The word is: Tochi (pronounce: Torchee) To shed some light: yes of course, it means Flashlight. In Africa, (not just on Safari,) we never leave home without it. Power cuts are frequent and may find you all soaped up in the tub. Even the best campfire fades in the wee hours to give way to the mysterious night noises of the bush. You may just want to have a look, peek out of your tent. It is not unlikely to spot a passing Hyena, even a Lion or maybe just chase away the night-zebra (mare). Fumbling for the unfamiliar lantern will by now have you in a sweat of fear. If only you had asked for a “tochi” to put under your pillow…. Happy travels! Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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Kiswahili Teacher April 2005

Posted by on Apr 27, 2005 in Kiswahili Teacher | 0 comments

Kiswahili Teacher April 2005

We have had our share of wild fires this season. It brings to mind an old Swahili saying with multiple meaning: Dawa ya moto ni moto (The medicine for fire is fire) It rang home when the boys + girl from Idaho taught us how to safely back burn, to starve the oncoming blaze. And again it proved right in the treatment of the after effects of the victory (over the fire) party. Dawa ya moto ni moto -Fight fire with fire, (or the hair of the dog…) You’ll know what we mean! Cheers! Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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Kiswahili Teacher November 2004

Posted by on Nov 24, 2004 in Kiswahili Teacher | 0 comments

Kiswahili Teacher November 2004

This month I am teaching you a very new word, I just learnt it myself, as it did not exist a few years ago. Like in any language words change and new ones are added as our lives change. Electronic technology caught on fast in Africa. It has brought people together like no other media before and it has become the great bridge over the gap of distance that has traditionally divided the developed world from the rest. Our lives will never be the same again. BARUA PEPE means: E-MAIL! Literally it translates like this: Barua = letter Pepe, short for Pepea = to fly or flying Nowadays it is not unusual to see a Maasai In the middle of what we used to call ‘nowhere,’ talking on a mobile phone while herding his cattle. And in his small village you may not find any writing paper but often there is a cyber café with a single computer working off a battery and a mobile phone. And you’ll be surprised: most of the local folks you meet have e-mail addresses. With the help of yahoo and one literate friend a whole new world opens to those you have come to look in on. Now we can chose our ‘neighbors’ from all over the world. We hope you will become ours. We always welcome a barua pepe with your comments from wherever you are: Contact Us ~Iris Hunt Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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Kiswahili Teacher March 2004

Posted by on May 27, 2004 in Kiswahili Teacher | 0 comments

Kiswahili Teacher March 2004

The news about the drunken chimps got us wondering… You have not yet learned how to invite your new best friend for a drink!! Well here you go: Karibu kinywaji pombe Karibu: welcome, join us! Kinywaji: drink Pombe: an alcoholic drink But my best friend objects to this ‘mouthful’ He is definitely the more experienced (drinker?) in our family, and refers to his favorite brew as : Dawa ya malaria Dawa: medicine ya: for Malaria: malaria Now you definitely deserve that drink, Pretending it is medicinal… Karibu dawa ya malaria! Cheers! (For which I have yet to learn a Swahili equivalent) Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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Kiswahili Teacher February 2004

Posted by on Feb 27, 2004 in Kiswahili Teacher | 0 comments

Kiswahili Teacher February 2004

Most of your time on Safari is taken up with what must be the worlds’ second greatest hobby: Photography Piga Picha (pronounce: pega pitcher) To take a photograph. So you should at least be able to tell your driver when something has caught your attention that you want to record with your camera. “Piga” (literally: strike, beat, hit) is one of those very useful words that can be attached to all sorts of other words resulting in totally different meanings: Just to name a few: Piga hema… to camp (hema: tent) Piga goli… to score (goli: goal) Piga simu… to telephone (simu: telephone) You get the gist. Here is my all time favorite, (not that you will need it much in Kenya): But it can also be aptly applied to stop any domestic argument, (especially if your spouse doesn’t speak Swahili!!): Hapana piga kelele… Don’t shout (hapana: no, kelele: noise) Have a wonderfully quiet day!! Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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Kiswahili Teacher January 2004

Posted by on Jan 27, 2004 in Kiswahili Teacher | 0 comments

Kiswahili Teacher January 2004

All through January we wish each other a happy New Year. At first it makes us feel good having survived yet another pre-Christmas rush followed by the usual overindulgence. It also distracts us from thinking about those infamous New Years resolutions. After a while the traditional greeting grows stale and sounds like ‘have a nice day’. This is definitely the time to switch to Kiswahili. Salama Mwaka Mpya (Pronounce: salama mukka empea) At first they think you have flipped, but a relieved smile will come over their faces when you translate. The world is still in order. Salama generally means: fine Mwaka: year Mpya : New Salama is one of the most useful words in the language, You can not only use it to greet anybody you pass, but also as a casual reply to a greeting any time. Have a wonderful New Year: Salama Mwaka Mpya Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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Kiswahili Teacher December 2003

Posted by on Dec 27, 2003 in Kiswahili Teacher | 0 comments

Kiswahili Teacher December 2003

Now it is time to learn the Kiswahili version of what we all say to each other several times a day at this time of the year: Sikuku Njema The traditional Swahili greeting at Christmas and more important: asante sana to ‘Baba Krismasi’ Should you be lucky enough to spot him on his way back up Mount Kenya Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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Kiswahili Teacher October 2003

Posted by on Oct 27, 2003 in Kiswahili Teacher | 0 comments

Kiswahili Teacher October 2003

The people of Kenya pride themselves in their hospitality towards visitors. And it is true. As you will soon find out on your Safari you will be made to feel special. But as much as we may try to anticipate your every wish, we would consider it an honor if you let us take care of any additional things we may have overlooked. So here’s how to get that extra towel, toilet paper, hairdryer, bug spray, whatever: Mimi nataka… pronounce: meme natucka This should be easy to remember: Mimi = Me Nataka = Want So now with everything at your fingertips, you’re all set! And while we’re at it, starting this month Swahili Teacher will teach you the Swahili name of the wild animal that “stars” in our feature story. This time it’s easy to remember: Punda Milia… pronounce: Poonda Melea Punda = donkey Milia = Stripes        = Zebra Please note: Strictly speaking, Punda Milia refers only to the common or Burchell’s Zebra. The name for the Grevy’s Zebra, if you want to be precise, is Kangani. Popular folklore has it different: The story is that the white she-donkey “prostituted” herself with a handsome black stallion instead of sticking to her own. A striped offspring was the resulting “punishment”. And that is how the Zebra got its name; Punda Malaya which is pronounced similar and means “Donkey prostitute”. However, Swahili Teacher does not agree!!! But in any case it is a good memory aid… Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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Kiswahili Teacher October 2003

Posted by on Oct 25, 2003 in Kiswahili Teacher | 0 comments

Kiswahili Teacher October 2003

“Baba Krismasi” as seen by Artist Denis Murphy Now it is time to learn the Kiswahili version of what we all say to each other several times a day at this time of the year: Sikuku Njema The traditional Swahili greeting at Christmas and more important: asante sana to ‘Baba Krismasi’ Should you be lucky enough to spot him on his way back up Mount Kenya. On behalf of everyone here at the Animal Orphanage we wish you and your loved ones a happy and peaceful Christmas and may all your dreams come true in 2004! We hope that you will continue to be part of our growing circle of friends. In 2004 this page will bring you all new stories and the latest Critter News from the Ranch and Animal Orphanage. Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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Kiswahili Teacher September 2003

Posted by on Sep 27, 2003 in Kiswahili Teacher | 0 comments

Kiswahili Teacher September 2003

Half the fun on holiday is… you guessed, shopping. You will have plenty of opportunity to see all kinds of ingenious handicrafts and tribal artifacts at the little markets scattered throughout the country. Bargaining is of course expected. In fact the more skill at bargaining the more respect you will earn. This in turn will result in a lower end price. Here is the magic phrase for bargaining: Bei gani? …How much is it? (pronounce: bay gani) Alternating your voice and facial expression when you exclaim: ‘bei gani’ …will amuse and attract more vendors, ready to lower the price as they will now get into competition with one-another. They will take over the Kiswahili conversation for you, all you need to do is nod occasionally. When all appears to have been said, try another ‘bei gani’, and by now the price should be much nearer your expectation. For your more sophisticated requirements you are best advised to wait to see the unique collection at the exquisite Mount Kenya Art Galleries Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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Kiswahili Teacher August 2003

Posted by on Aug 27, 2003 in Kiswahili Teacher | 0 comments

Kiswahili Teacher August 2003

Wandering the wilds of Africa may be your idea of fun. But it is never easy for someone from another world. Someone who has been brainwashed to ignore their natural instincts and rely on Road Signs, Information Highways. And Governments responsible for providing common sense! So you will get lost! Let us hope not in the jungle out there amongst unfamiliar fauna, but maybe even in the lodge’s parking lot where all the foreign cars look the same to you… you will need to know how to ask: I am looking for…: Natafuta Seeing you wander about with that confused look on your pale face, most of our friendly people will understand the rest… Natafuta Driver Natafuta Hotelli Natafuta Chakula Natafuta Choo (Toilet) If you can’t remember ‘natafuta’ in the state you must be in by now, think positive, think: Whoopi! Wapi Driver Wapi Hotelli etc. Wapi of course means: Where Lousy pidgin Kiswahili, but you will be forgiven, and helped all the more. Good luck! Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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Kiswahili Teacher July 2003

Posted by on Jul 27, 2003 in Kiswahili Teacher | 0 comments

Kiswahili Teacher July 2003

You have learnt so far: Jambo, habari: hello, how are you Tengeneza hii: make this right Kuuliza sio ujinga: to ask does not mean one is stupid Today’s word: Mzuri pronounce: missouri Mzuri means simply “good” It is a handy word to know. Lets face it, when you first go on Safari you are going to love every minute of it… mzuri It starts in the baggage hall, your bag appears after you had many hours of wondering if you’d ever see it again… mzuri The customs officer says “Jambo, habari” you say… mzuri You get to your first camp, hot shower, good food and ice in the drinks… mzuri You order another by saying “tangeneza hii” and it appears!! … mzuri Next morning, first sunrise in the African bush, you ignore the hangover andlie to your guide… mzuri And so it goes, every day, until the last. You are thrilled, you tip the guide and drivers, and they all say… mzuri Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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Kiswahili Teacher June 2003

Posted by on Jun 27, 2003 in Kiswahili Teacher | 0 comments

Kiswahili Teacher June 2003

June is the month of Fathers Day in many countries, when the intrepid male leadership of the family is rightly saluted and otherwise celebrated. And it’s on this theme that your Swahili Teacher has selected his local bon mot of the month, appropriate we think to the occasion. “Kuuliza sio ujinga” (pronounce: kooleesa seeo ujenga) It means, liberally translated: “To ask does not mean one is stupid” And it would pertain, of course, when the intrepid dad gets lost on Safari. Or more generally, perhaps, when he sensibly defers to the advice & consent of his “better half” Have a wonderful “Baba’s Day” Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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Kiswahili Teacher May 2003

Posted by on May 27, 2003 in Kiswahili Teacher | 0 comments

Kiswahili Teacher May 2003

Today you are going to learn the most important ‘must know’ phrase of the language. If you appreciate magic, and wish to see instant, bewildering results from a Swahili conjuror’s command, all you need to do is point your finger and utter these words: Tengeneza hii (pronounced: tanganesa hee) Miraculously the person addressed will divine what you’re getting at and – Shazam! – it’s done. That’s because, literally translated, ‘tengeneza hii‘ means: ‘Make this right!’ Try it on your room steward, for instance, on your first day in East Africa. If, at nightfall, you point in the direction of the drapes and declaim the phrase ‘tengeneza hii’ he will close them forthwith. Repeat it next morning and he’ll immediately let in the brilliant early African sunlight. It’s sheer magic! It’s also the same command if you want a cedar log fire lit against the chill of a Mount Kenya evening. Or perhaps, more urgently, if you need a refill at the bar. Just point at your empty glass and say ‘tengeneza hii!’ Cheers!! Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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Kiswahili Teacher April 2003

Posted by on Apr 27, 2003 in Kiswahili Teacher | 0 comments

Kiswahili Teacher April 2003

Your first word is (not jambo, you all know that one already), but: Habari The literal translation for this word is: News But in practical terms it can mean: How are you?, as in: What is your news? So there you are, the next person that shouts “Jambo” you answer: “Habari” like a pro. Now you will probably be showered in the latest News hot from the press, all gibberish to you, but A good reason to stick with your… Swahili Teacher !! Recommend on Facebook Tweet about...

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