LESSON #49: The 4 seasons (majira)

  • Winter………….
  • Spring…….
  • Summer………..
  • Autumn/Fall…………

Click the link below to listen to the Swahili names of these four seasons as well as a little explanation behind some of the names…….

Episode 39: The 4 seasons in Swahili.


Heri ya siku yangu ya kuzaliwa!!!

So yeahs it’s that special day for me, another year older…only 21 I am (ha!)

My ‘dada‘ got me a ‘keki’ and brought it all the way from London but it didn’t quite survive the ‘safari‘ unfortunately and this is all we could salvage…….

BALIStill very grateful for yet another ‘mwaka’, nashukuru! ‘Inshallah‘, I’ll be doing a similar post next year.



(First person to tell me what those Swahili words mean might just score free Swahili lessons with me…say 5 intense hourly lessons?!!)

Lesson updates…

So am basically gonna update previous notes, literally starting from lesson 1. Since someone suggested including plurals of words for one lesson, I figured I might as well do that for all the lessons. So I’ll include the singulars (umoja) or plurals (wingi) of whatever words (in brackets) and for those without plurals I’ll obviously  just leave them as they are.

So yeahs, if this kind of thing tickles your fancy, be sure to check it out.


LESSON #48: Methali…#1

Methali is the Swahili name for a proverb or proverbs. We Africans in general use a lot of ‘methali‘ in our everyday conversations especially when trying to pass on some wisdom or when rebuking say one’s child. There’s hundreds upon hundreds of methali, some with English (or other languages) equivalents and some totally and uniquely Swahili. I will try as much as I can to talk about English equivalents and compare the wordings as well and I would be glad if you all can share different equivalents in your own languages.

Onto methali #1: Read More

LESSON #24 update…

As per a certain “Boga’s” suggestion I have included the plurals of the fruit names as well as added a couple more common fruits. (Thanks a bunch for your many suggestions, working on the others)

I shall be updating other lessons as well so stay tuned for that.


Koffi Olomide’s ‘Loi’

Seeing as am in Scotland and everyone’s in a celebratory mood today thanks to one Andy Murray (it only took  77 years!), I figured I’d switch things up a bit and come at you with an African party anthem! This tune is from way back but everyone still jams to it whenever there’s something to celebrate…and no, that’s not Swahili it’s ‘Lingala‘ (from DRC). ‘Leo hakuna kulala Scotland’…there’s no sleeping in Scotland today!

Cultural Note: Addressing different people in Swahili

A little cultural tidbit to ensure you don’t go around Swahili speakers ruffling unnecessary feathers! When you are in a Swahili speaking place and you wish to ask your way around, strike up a conversation, etc you need to learn the right ways to address different people and avoid ruffling said feathers of course!

For younger women (or those of roughly the same age as oneself) you address them as dadaanti or shangazi (aunt-meaning ‘young lady’, not aunt in the literal sense). Young women can also be addressed as bi mdogo (young lady). Older people are the ones that would use this title not ones age mates.

For younger men (or those of roughly the same age as oneself ) you address them as kaka, anko or mjomba (uncle-same idea as anti). Young men can also be addressed as bwana mdogo (or bwa’ mdogo as we like to shorten it which means ‘young man’). This is normally used by older people not ones age mates.

Older ladies of  an older mother’s age (around 40 and above) are simply referred to as mama or bi mkubwa (meaning ‘older lady’). Older men of again around the same age of 40 and above are referred to as baba or more commonly, mzee (meaning an ‘older person’). Most sons also call their dads mzee which is considered quite formal (think calling your dad father as opposed to dad).

As for older people from around 65 and above (grandparents’ age) we call them bibi for women and babu for men (men can also be referred to as mzee as already explained above)

And as for kids, well not much is expected as they are just kids so you can call them pretty much whatever but for really young ones (say under 10 years) most people affectionately call them mtoto mzuri (loosely translates to ‘you sweet obedient child’). You bet they like that!

So, next time you are in a Swahili speaking place, particularly Tanzania, don’t forget your manners and address people properly. Also, don’t be surprised when people tend to not hold back and call you out on your way of addressing them, it’s like being in Japan and forgetting to bow-nobody takes it kindly!

LESSON #47: Ipi ni ipi?…#7

Word to learn: mbuzi

  • Mbuzi, is the Swahili name for a ‘goat.’

mbuzi mnyama

  • Mbuzi is also a ‘coconut grater’ which is a very common equipment you’ll find in most Swahili kitchens as we love our coconut milk and add it in just about anything and everything.

mbuzi nazi
So you basically sit in the middle and get grating!