In November 2021, the Resource and Development Coordinator, Mr. Moses Odera, came up with the…
Knowing basic Swahili words will make your stay at Umala Village easier.
The people in this part of the country speak the Luo, Luhya and Swahili languages. It’s vital for you to learn a few basic phrases before you embark on your journey.
Being able to communicate and converse with the locals helps in bridging the cultural gap. When you utter the right phrase, the local people will find you friendly and will be more helpful and drawn to what you are doing; in this case, spreading of the word. The more people you attract, the more souls you will win to Jesus!
Swahili has been known as a simple language to learn because the words are pronounced as they are written. There are incredible sources on the internet to help in your quest to grasp this East African language.
Basic Swahili phrases
Jambo– This is a greeting that you can give to anyone you meet at Umala. It is basically a hello.
The answer you will get in return will be nzuri and salama. Remember that these are the same answers you will be expected to respond to when someone gives you a Jambo greeting!
Greetings are considered special and respectful in the Luo community!
Habari Gani– In most cases, these phrases will be follow-ups to the Jambo greeting. These translate to basically “How are you? When you inquire on individual welfare, you will be seen as caring and concerned for the other persons well being
Asante– In the Umala community, being grateful and expressing gratitude is significantly appreciated.
Asante means thank you. It is a gratitude phrase that you will be expected to use once you have received a service or any item from anyone in the village.
Kwa-Heri– After all has been said and done, when you take your leave, saying goodbye is a sign of courtesy and appreciation. Always use this word when you leave a place or home.
Ndiyo – This word expresses your acceptance, it’s an affirmative word, an approval that can help you while on your visit to Umala Village. In most cases, this word can be accompanied by the nodding gesture to emphasize acceptance.
Hapana– There will be instances when you need to express refusal. It can be food, a service or anything that you are not interested in. Hapana translates to no in Swahili.
This refusal is perceived as polite, instead of you remaining silent in case of a request.
Tafadhali– This word means, please. A polite expression of a request. As you are in a foreign country, you will need to find out several things to ease your stay, and this word will come in handy when you are seeking directions or making requests among other things.
Rafiki– Having a friend is a universal need, and while at Umala, a friend will make your stay comfortable and fun. A friend will show you places and will help you fight any loneliness when it creeps in. A friend is your companion and rafiki means a friend in Swahili.
Sawa– This word means okay, it’s used to express agreement or acceptance for a deed or item. While with the locals, you will be offered many things and stuff to impress you, and they will appreciate your acceptance of the same.
Ni Wapi -At Umala you will need to get by and move from one point to another. Being equipped with the right words to enable you to get by every day is important. Ni wapi means where is. If you ask about a certain school, for instance, you might phrase it like this Winners School ni wapi?
Hoteli – Some of these Swahili words originated from their English version. For instance, Hoteli is Hotel.
Chakula – Food is part of your life even if you are in a foreign country. while at Umala Village when asking for food, the use of please as explained above and the word chakula will have your needs taken care of.
Practice will make you improve
One thing you’ll notice is that you will end up learning most of the Swahili language while you are among the people.
Coupled with the right mindset, the willingness to learn and Gods favor, be assured to enjoy your stay at Umala Village. The daily interactions, conversations will play a key role in improving the language.
“Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things but learning another way to think about things.”
– Flora Lewis