Tag Archives: Swahili

Nina fahamu Kiswahili kidogo

T Minus 28

With 4 weeks to go it’s about time I made a start learning some Swahili. So I have embarked on a 30 day Pimsleur course. The dates don’t quite work but I’ll either do a couple of doubles or else stretch it across (there is a long flight at the end of August after all!)

Today was the rudiments of greeting and asking if you understand Swahili or English.

Hence the title translates as “I speak a little Swahili”.

Other phrases / words include

Samahani = Excuse Me

Hapana = no

Ndiyo = yes

Kiingereza = English

Kiswahili = Swahili

Una = you

Nina = I

Bwana = sir

Dada = miss (young)

Kidogo = a little

Fahamu = know / understand

So if you have followed this

Una fahamu Kiswahali kidogo

Africa Time – Ups & Downs

Interesting blog – a ‘take’ on African life in general – although being at an International School might mean more structure.

African Inspirations

T Minus 164

I mentioned in earlier posts that the desire to work / teach abroad and in particular Africa is something which has been with me for a very long time. So long in fact it is hard to pinpoint when exactly. However, the thoughts crystallised about the time I completed my PGCE, when I said to myself that one day I would teach in Africa.
I have already speculated on the reason it has taken so long so here I want to list the things which have inspired me.
I have thought long and hard but here is my list.

1. Doctor Dolittle
Whoever I visited my Nana, I used to read these books and later had my own copies. Though about lots of travels, it was the search for the mythical Pushmi-pullyu and the journey to Africa which caught my attention. I recognise now (but was unaware of then) the stereotyping / racism shown towards the Africans, but for me as an 8 year old it was about a magical land and adventure.dolittle

2. Daktari

This TV show broadcast in the UK in the 70’s was regularly shown on children’s telly, and a regular favorite alongside others of note (Banana Splits, Double Deckers, Why Don’t You etc). The word ‘Daktari’ is Swahili for Doctor. The Doctor in question a Vet based in East Africa. All a bit contrived but nonetheless…

3. African Adventure 

One of a series of children’s  books by Willard Price. Concerning two boys Hal and Roger and their adventures. Many of these books were set in Africa. They were great reads and gave a real sense of adventure.

African Adventure

Other African stories included Safari Adventure, Elephant Adventure, Lion Adventure and Gorilla Adventure 

4. Tarzan

Another TV favorite of the early  70’s in the UK. This TV program was  regular viewing.

5. Atlases & Flag Books

It has been said that I “swallowed an Atlas at an early age”.  At one time I could tell you the Capital of any country on earth and new their Flags ‘off by heart’. I reckon I can still give it a good go – although the plethora of new countries of the ’80s and ’90s have made the task harder. The continent of Africa with its exotic flags and ‘strange’ place names held a particular fascination. I remember learning that the capital of Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) is Ouagadougou.20140312-183050.jpg

6. The World About Us

Sunday evening was always bathtime  which was followed by watching a nature program on the BBC. Many of these were set in Africa and showcased the immense variety of wildlife across the continent. Programs such as The World About Us were a favorite.

Later there was the amazing Life on Earth and the famous David Attenborough vs Gorilla scene

7. Africa

This was one of the first records I recorded of the radio when I started to get into music. A great track by the band Toto.  Later I bought the record. Fabulous and evocative tune

8. Out Of Africa

I remember going to see this with a group of friends whilst at University – a good film which charts the life of a woman going out to Africa to live in Kenya. Amazing music by John Barry

9. Zulu

A favorite film of my Dad – we used to watch it whenever it was on Telly. Although it tells of the battle of British Troops against the native Zulu warriors of South Africa and is very much focused on the British side – it is nonetheless an amazing story of bravery on both sides, and the African scenery is superb. The first clip is of the Zulu War Chants.

The second clip features another great theme by John Barry.

10. Anita

I actually knew about my wife before I met her. I actually knew her parents (my in laws) before I knew Anita. It was 1993, Heather and Geoff were part of my church in Bletchley. I was running  the Drama Team, they were involved in the Mission Partnership Group and we were planning an event for Mission Sunday in which we were to perform some sketches. I heard from them about their daughter (Anita) who was working in Malawi. Hearing of her Development work and all that she was doing to help teach Preventative Health was inspiring.

Three months later she returned to England and the rest is history…team

11. The Lion King

One of my favorite Disney films – and watched many times over the years as the kids grew up and recently rewatched. Africa is as much a part of the story as Simba, Timon, Pumba and Scar. It has some great tunes too!

12. Gambia Experience

My own chance to visit Africa came  in 2006 when I had the chance to visit the Gambia. Although I was only there for 8 days I actually visited 2 countries – spending about 4 hours touring  in Senegal, as well. This means I have actually been to more countries than Anita (who has thus far, only been to Malawi!). It was a fabulous week and one I will not forget.

18 Senegal 060

Senegalese Children

05 Kachikally Crocodile Pool 003

Gambian Children

13. Watoto and African Children’s Choirs

In the past few years we have had visits to Milton Keynes by the African Children’s Choir and Watoto Children’s Choir.  Both have sung inspirationally and given a flavour of their continent.



Come and Dwell

T minus 174

Last summer we went to see Watoto Children’s Choir* in concert locally. We purchased their new album at the end of the concert. This song is one of my favorites and listening to it again after securing the job at Isamilo in Mwanza, Tanzania – it seemed very apt. I have listened to it several times since – it has confirmed in me the decisions taken.

The lyrics of the chorus (as best as I can make them out) are as follows

Come and dwell in this place, you’re welcome, people of all the earth, you’re welcome, you’re welcome

Come and dwell in this place, you’re welcome, people of all the earth, people of all the earth 

*Watoto Children’s Choir is an African children’s choir based in Kampala, Uganda, at Watoto Church. It is composed of about twenty-two children from Uganda. Watoto means “Children” in Swahili language (source Wikepedia).

Below is the official video for the title song on their album “Beautiful Africa” (Link to UK  iTunes) another favorite of mine.

Speaking the Lingo!!

T minus 179

Thought it was about time I (Anita) had a go at ‘blogging’ so here goes…

20+ years ago I was living in Malawi and was speaking and teaching in the local language ‘Chichewa’.


Teaching a health prevention class
“Mwana ku mwana” (Child to child),
in a rural Malawian village (1992)

In Tanzania, it seems that another Bantu language ‘Kiswahili’ (ie Swahili) is spoken.  “Great :), having learned one it can’t be that hard to learn a 2nd one surely!”, I naively thought, until I started studying a Learn Swahili book and then the confusion set in.  I thought the way to approach it would be comparing the 2 languages but I ended up getting very muddled, there seem to be more noun classes (though I haven’t counted them) and some of the words have very different meanings eg the ‘na’ prefix in Chichewa indicates the past, but in Swahili it means the present!!


Me, teaching a health lesson

So I went to plan B which has been to forget the Chichewa and learn Swahili using an audio language learning programme.  It takes just 30 mins a day, and today will be lesson 10.  This seems to be working much better and I now know how to order 2 beers and say useful phrases such as “I would like to buy something” “Where would you like to eat?” and “I want a cup of tea/coffee with you”.  This way the Chichewa knowledge seems to be helping as some nouns are similar eg the word for house is “nyumba” in Chichewa and “nyumbani” in Swahili.  Of course the test will be when I try it out with someone who can actually speak Kiswahili!!


Hopefully once I’ve gone through the oral lessons, I can then go back to the book and it’ll then make more sense – well that’s the plan!!!

Not forgetting Swahili Bubble Bath 🙂 (edit – Graham) and your cousin Helen!!