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Learn Swahili Language

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Say Hello in Swahili Language! Swahili Language, also known as Kiswahili, is a Bantu language spoken in East Africa, primarily in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is also the official language of the African Union and the East African Community, so Swahili language learning is good and fun for your Safari to East Africa. Swahili has a rich history and has been influenced by various languages, including Arabic, Portuguese, and English. It has its roots in the Bantu language family and is closely related to other Bantu languages such as Kikuyu, Gikuyu, and Kamba. There is a hand full of platforms to assist you to learn Swahili Language.

The language is written using the Latin alphabet, and it has relatively simple grammar with few irregularities. Swahili is also known for its extensive use of loanwords from other languages, especially Arabic. Swahili is a lingua franca in East Africa, used as a means of communication between people who speak different native languages. It is also a popular language for business, trade, and tourism in the region.

Where is Swahili spoken?

Swahili is mostly spoken in East Africa, particularly in the following countries:

Tanzania: Swahili is the national language of Tanzania, and it is spoken by the majority of the population.

Kenya: Swahili is also one of the two official languages of Kenya, along with English. It is widely spoken throughout the country, particularly in coastal regions and major cities such as Nairobi.

Uganda: Swahili is one of the official languages of Uganda, although it is not as widely spoken as in Kenya and Tanzania.

Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo: Swahili is also spoken in these countries, particularly in the eastern regions that border Tanzania and Kenya.

Outside of East Africa, Swahili is also spoken by some communities in parts of the Middle East, including Oman and the United Arab Emirates, as well as by some immigrant communities in Europe and the United States.

A few Swahili Words

To Learn Swahili language words can help you communicate with the locals and enhance your overall experience while on safari in East Africa. Here are some commonly used Swahili words and phrases that can be helpful for safari goers: learn how to Say Hello in Swahili language form the following words.

  • Jambo – Hello
  • Karibu – Welcome
  • Asante – Thank you
  • Sawa sawa – Okay, all right
  • Hakuna Matata – No problem, don’t worry (made famous by the Lion King)
  • Safari – Journey or trip (often used to refer to a wildlife safari)
  • Kifaru – Rhino
  • Tembo – Elephant
  • Simba – Lion
  • Twiga – Giraffe
  • Chui – Leopard
  • Nyati – Buffalo
  • Kiboko – Hippopotamus
  • Ndovu – Elephant
  • Punda milia – Zebra
  • Ndege – Bird
  • Mamba – Crocodile
  • Kipepeo – Butterfly
  • Jua kali – Hot sun
  • Mvua – Rain

Here are a few Swahili Phrases

To Learn Swahili Langauge phrases will not only help you communicate with the locals but also show your interest in their culture and language, which is always appreciated.

  • Habari gani? – How are you? (literally, “What’s the news?”)
  • Nzuri sana – Very good
  • Pole pole – Slowly, take it easy
  • Karibu sana – You’re very welcome
  • Tafadhali – Please
  • Asante sana – Thank you very much
  • Hapana – No
  • Ndio – Yes
  • Nisaidie tafadhali – Please help me
  • Nataka… – I want…
  • Nimepotea – I’m lost
  • Nitafutaje… – How can I find…
  • Wapi choo? – Where is the bathroom?
  • Samahani – Excuse me, sorry
  • Sijui – I don’t know
  • Lala salama – Goodnight (literally, “sleep well”)
  • Kwaheri – Goodbye
  • Safari njema – Have a good trip
  • Karibu tena – Welcome back
  • Tutaonana baadaye – See you later
  • Chakula – Food
  • Maji – Water
  • Sana sana – Thank you very much
  • Bei gani? – How much does it cost?
  • Ndio, nataka – Yes, I want
  • Hapana, asante – No, thank you
  • Hapa – Here
  • Pale – There
  • Huku – Here (general area)
  • Kule – There (general area)
  • Kulia – Right
  • Kushoto – Left
  • Sawa – Okay
  • Si vibaya – It’s not bad
  • Pole kwa safari ndefu – Sorry for the long trip
  • Sijambo – I’m fine
  • Habari yako? – How are you?
  • Njoo – Come
  • Nenda – Go
  • Twende – Let’s go
  • Nipe – Give me
  • Nipeni – Give me (plural)
  • Karibu chakula – Enjoy your meal
  • Asante kwa chakula – Thank you for the food
  • Nitakupa asante – I’ll give you thanks
  • Sio mbaya – It’s okay
  • Nataka kufanya safari – I want to go on a safari
  • Asante kwa msaada – Thank you for your help
  • Pole sana – I’m sorry, I sympathize with you
  • Mtu wangu – My friend

Respectful Swahili Phrases

Learning Swahili Language and using these phrases can help you show respect and politeness to locals while traveling in Swahili-speaking countries like Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. Here are a few phrases to be polite and show respect in Swahili along with their translations on your Swahili language learning:

  • Tafadhali – Please
  • Asante – Thank you
  • Asante sana – Thank you very much
  • Karibu sana – You’re welcome
  • Samahani – Excuse me or I’m sorry
  • Pole – Sorry for your misfortune (used to express condolences)
  • Shikamoo – A respectful greeting to elders (literally means “I hold your feet”)
  • Sijambo – A greeting used to inquire about someone’s well-being (literally means “I am not in trouble”)
  • Heshima – Respect
  • Salamu – Greetings
  • Mimi ni mgeni – I am a guest
  • Mimi sina habari – I don’t know
  • Nimefurahi kukutana nawe – Nice to meet you
  • Nawatakia siku njema – Have a good day
  • Kwa heri – Goodbye

What not to Say in a Swahili Speaking Country

If you are visiting a Swahili-speaking country, there are certain things you should avoid saying in order to avoid causing offense or misunderstanding. Here are a few of them you should consider knowing in your Swahili language learning journey:

Avoid using slang or offensive language: As with any language, Swahili has its own slang and offensive words that may be offensive to native speakers. It is best to avoid using slang or offensive language unless you are absolutely sure of its meaning and appropriate usage.

Don’t assume everyone speaks Swahili: While Swahili is widely spoken in East Africa, not everyone may speak the language. It is always polite to ask if the person you are speaking to speaks Swahili before assuming they do.

Avoid discussing sensitive topics: In many Swahili-speaking countries, there are sensitive topics such as politics, religion, and sexuality that are best avoided in casual conversation. It is always best to err on the side of caution and avoid these topics unless you are speaking with someone you know well and feel comfortable discussing them with.

Don’t be disrespectful to elders: In Swahili culture, elders are highly respected, and it is important to show them proper respect. Avoid interrupting them or speaking over them, and use formal titles such as “mzee” (elder) or “baba/mama” (father/mother) when addressing them.

Avoid using inappropriate gestures: Some gestures that are considered innocuous in your culture may be considered inappropriate or offensive in Swahili culture. For example, pointing with your index finger or using your left hand to shake hands or eat may be considered rude. It is best to observe local customs and learn Swahili language and the appropriate gestures to use in different situations.