July 17, 2022

Your first lesson in Swahili

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The Lion King’s Rock, also called the World View Point

Picture by: Mambo View Point | Instagram

Habari, everyone! This means “hello”. Asante - “thank you” - for reading my first article for Harbingers’ Magazine.

Since it is the first time I appear in Harbingers’ Magazine, I will start by introducing myself. I am 14 years old and I live in Mtae, Tanzania.

I was born in Tanzania’s capital city, Dar Es Salaam, but my parents come from the Kilimanjaro region. I study in Mtae, and plan to become a nurse or doctor.

My first language is Swahili. It is is a language spoken by about 90 million people, and for two to eighteen million, it is their first language. It is the official language of four countries: Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. It is also recognized in several other countries as a minority language.

Today I will share with you some basic words of Swahili.

Samahani means “excuse me”. So samahani if I make a mistake.

Ndio means “yes” and hapana means “no”.

Habari yako? means “how are you?”

You would answer nzuri to say “I’m fine” or sio nzuri to say that you are not too well.

If you are very sorry for someone – for example, because they slipped and hit their head on a metal bar, as one of my teachers once did – you would say pole sana.

Below, you can see a book printed in both Swahili and English. I used it to learn English, but you can use it to figure out some additional words in Swahili.

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  • A picture from a book in Swahili and English, titled Mama Anakazi

    Picture by: Lidya Gaspar

  • My teacher also asked me how to say ‘hurray!’ in Swahili. It is a very useful word, I say hongera a lot.

    And if you don’t know something, you would say sijui chochote. I sijui chochote how to say ‘oops!’ in Swahili, I could not think of an expression like that.

    This is enough knowledge for one day. Kwaheri – this means “goodbye”.

    Written by:


    Lidya Gaspar

    Staff Writer

    Mtae, Tanzania

    Born in Dar Es Salaam in 2009, Lidya Gaspar graduated from Mtae Primary School in Tanzania. She speaks Swahili and English and plans to become a nurse or a doctor. She enjoys playing stick plays, singing, and studying. Her origins are in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania, she has two brothers and two sisters. In Harbingers’ Magazine, Lydia Gaspar is a Staff Writer.