I have finally taken the plunge and after ten weeks here embarked upon a language course. Living in the British bubble that is Isamilo School has offered precious little opportunity to learn the lingo. Consequently my Kiswahili vocabulary is limited to a few phrases e.g. Hujambo (a form of hello), Kwaheri (a form of goodbye) and phrases such as Samahani (excuse me), assante (please), kidogo (a little), sana (very), but little more. Anita has learnt fast and well which has been both encouraging and daunting. I have tended to rely on her when we’re in town.
Now it’s time I learned for myself. Yesterday I embarked on a course at the Language School where Anita has been learning. My teacher is Mama Salala, a German ex-pat who has become immersed in Tanzania culture . Having someone of a European background but who is fluent in Kiswahili has been a great help.
I have signed up for two hour long lessons per week from 6 to 7 each evening on Wednesday and Thursday. The methods are quite traditional with reading speaking and writing, but the lessons are engaging and there is a mix of culture and language throughout. The hour passes quickly!
Thus far I have learned the many different greetings and farewells in Kiswahili and their cultural significance. I now know a number of ways of saying hello and the various responses you give.
Today we focused on farewells and I realise my Kwaheri was inaccurate in almost all circumstance (except when leaving the house of an individual. Most times the phrase Karibu Tena or Karibuni Tena (pl.) should be used. On the street either Haya (OK), Baadae (later!) can be used or Kesho! (Tomorrow!) – not Kwaheri
Another goodbye is
Haya tutaonana (we’ll meet again)
The response being
Mungu akipenda (God willing)
However more informally I will say