Bongo Street Food…’chipsi-mayai’

Another weekend-yay! Am actually still kinda hungry having had a rather so-so dinner so posting about food was pretty much inevitable! First off, Bongo is the nickname given to my hometown, Dar es salaam, but most people use the name to refer to the whole country of Tanzania. So I’ll be introducing you to the most common dish you’ll find in the streets of Bongo. This is called ‘chipsi-mayai’, meaning chips and eggs. It’s normally made by first frying the chips and once they are done they are put in another smaller pan with very little oil then  a couple of eggs are beaten and poured onto the chips. The chips are flipped over for the eggs to cook properly and voila! ready to serve.

Most people I’ve met, particularly my next door cousins, the Kenyans, think this is the weirdest dish that was ever created but then they visit Bongo and by the time they get back home they are singing its praises! Chipsi-mayai can be eaten just as it is or you can also add what we call mishkaki (think sheesh kebab) as well as a type of salad we call kachumbari. This salad is made up of chopped cabbage, onions, tomatoes, carrots, green peppers and a sprinkle of lemon juice on top, tamu sana! I actually know a couple of people that live abroad who go hunting for chipsi-mayai the moment they land on TZ soil, it’s an incurable addiction I tell you!

And of course here’s a picture for that added visual effect…karibuni mlo!

chips mishkaki mayai

It’s Furahi Day!!!

Happy new weekend everybody!

And just incase the joke flew right past you, Furahi Day is what young folks in E.Afrika call Friday, notice they sound kinda similar. And of course I’d jump into any opportunity to give a wee Swahili lesson so here goes:

Furahi‘ comes from the noun ‘furaha‘ which means happiness, so basically ‘furahi‘ means be happy! Needless to say, Furahi Day for us is the day that we are all happy (like seriously who dares be grumpy on a Friday?!)

So have fun everybody and if you do drink, do the smart thing and get yourself a taxi (or a sub driver)!

friday!

LESSON #40: Learn Swahili vocabulary with pictures #8

korongo mwanza
Photo courtesy of http://tembeatz.blogspot.co.uk/

Words to learn: Korongo, Paa (mapaa), Mgahawa (migahawa), Lango (malango), Ukuta (kuta)

To find out what the above words represent in the picture, click on the link below…

EPISODE 36: Learn new Swahili vocabulary with pictures #8.

Did u know…

Just sharing some random but interesting information. Did you know that Tanzania shares its national anthem with 2 other African countries? (You didn’t did you?!) It just so happens that we share the same melody (am not too sure about the lyrics) with the great countries of  South Africa & Zambia! Initially 2 other countries (Namibia & Zimbabwe) also used this song but they have since adopted new anthems. Not sure how that came about but if we are to call anybody a copycat it would have to be the other 2 as we officially sang our anthem in 1961, SA and Zambia on the other hand acquired their respective independences in 1994 and 1964. Easy to spot the copycats yes? Absolutely not!  Actually the original composer of this anthem happens to be one Enoch Mankayi Sontonga, a South African, who composed the tune waay back in 1897! Who’s the copycat now?! he he! Jokes aside though, this tune has been used all over Africa during independence movements so it can rightly and proudly be called Africa’s National Anthem.

(Fun thought: how cool would it be if at some medal awarding event a Tanzanian, South African & Zambian took to the podium and the national anthem played and they all very proudly put their hands over their hearts and sang together- cut to the crowd looking all weirded out!)

And here’s the TZ Swahili version together with the English translation of course (I spy lots of new vocabulary to be learnt- who said this was just a random post?!)

 

LESSON #39: Office-related vocabulary

1) Work; Job……..
2) Office………
3) Conference room…….
4) Meeting; Conference…………
5) Meeting minutes……………
6) Board…………..
7) Chairman…………….
8) Director…………
9) Clerk……………
10) Manager…………….
11) Worker……………
12) Employee……………..
13) Janitor……………
14) Supervisor……………
15) Secretary…………..
16) Telephone…………….
17) Photocopy machine…………..
18) Computer……………..
19) Printer…………..
20) Fax machine…………..
21) Report…………..
22) Cabinet……………
23) File………….
24) Chair………….
25) Table; Desk……………

To learn what the above office related words mean in Swahili, click the link below…

EPISODE 35: Office/Work vocabulary in Swahili.

Taarab Music

Me again with yet another ‘random’ post! So this time I am talking about Taarab music which I’ll admit am no huge expert on but I love it nevertheless. It is of course Swahili music which is very popular in the coastal areas of Tanzania (Zanzibar, Dar, Tanga…) as well as Kenya (Mombasa). Thanks to good ol’ wikipedia I found the name to be of Arabic origin meaning, “having joy with music”. The best way to describe it is; if the US has Hip-Hop music then East Afrika has Taarab- it’s feisty, sassy, in your face, makes no apologies about its message and definitely not for the faint hearted!

Apparently we imported this kind of music from Egypt or somewhere up there in N.Africa. How it landed in Tanzania or more specifically, Zanzibar, was via some Taarab ensemble from the North that really impressed the Sultan (ruler) at the time. He decided to send some local guy up North to learn all the tricks of the trade and when he returned he formed the Zanzibar Taarab Orchestra and just like that Taarab had arrived in the Spice Islands and before long the whole of Tanzania!

The Taarab that I grew up listening to is sung using a certain tone of voice which I can only compare to Bollywood songs, you know the way they tend to hit some ridiculous notes…yeahs not quite that high but something like that! The most distinct feature of Taarab songs is the style of lyrics writing which can only be described as daring, provocative and totally insulting-am not kidding! If you remember, kanga, the popular Swahili piece of clothing whose most well known feature is the message found at the bottom which usually happens to be very insulting and what not; think of Taarab in the same way.  So Swahili women would trade insults using kanga messages, then when the ‘beef’ heats up and they wish to take it up a notch, in comes Taarab! (ok I made that bit up but I’d like to think that’s how ‘strategic’ their fights can be!). Most of the kanga writings actually come from Taarab lyrics and usually when dancing to this kind of music women would be draped in their kanga, swinging their hips extremely provocatively!

Taarab lyrics can also be love songs but usually not just any regular, puppy love, Justin Bieber song but explicit love songs, as in those lyrics you are strongly advised to ban your kids from listening to! That’s why most Taarab performances are usually attended by adults only (or should be as am sure lots of kids still attend them and move their innocent little hips to the tunes!). You can find people dancing to some Taarab  at weddings and other wedding related events amongst other events. To enjoy Taarab, you need to be laid back, have a little sass and attitude and you are good to go! A friendly warning though, Taarab songs can be quite long- 10 minutes is more or less the norm- you’d be well advised to have some good ol’ stamina on you!

Taarab is a predominantly female thing but men have been known to make equally good, if not sometimes better, Taarab music. My all time favourite Taarab singer is an awesome lady called Khadija Kopa who’s been around literally my whole life and still shows no signs of slowing down- the Queen of Taarab we call her. But the true legend of  Taarab is one famous Bi Kidude who unfortunately passed away a couple of weeks back (RIP) and who had been in the business (and stayed relevant) for something ridiculous like 80 years, talk about longevity-eat that Mick Jagger!

And here’s a couple of videos…

 (This is more of  ‘Mduara’, another type of popular Swahili music but of course it’s heavily influenced by Taarab)

 (Again more of Mduara than actual Taarab)

LESSON #37: Zodiac signs (Nyota)

Sagittarius………..

Capricorn……………

Aquarius…………….

Aries…………….

Virgo…………..

Cancer…………..

Leo…………….

Libra……………..

Scorpio………………

Gemini……………….

Taurus…………….

Pisces………………..

Click the link below to find out just what your sign is called in Swahili…

EPISODE 33: Zodiac signs in Swahili.

Cheers @Obsessive Ed!

Yup! Just a quick post to say ‘ahsante sana’ to the above mentioned extremely generous guy. He didn’t know the first thing about me but not only did he agree to give me a shout out on his blog, he went ahead and wrote a whole, may I just add completely legit, review! All together now… aaawwwsss! I browsed through quite a number of Kenyan blogs and this guy’s was one of the very few to catch my eye, you guys definitely need to check him out, he’s got quite the sarcastic yet totally honest writing flair!

Thanks again brother new number one fan right here! Can’t wait for your guest post!

asante sana