Lesson Update: Lesson #75


Just an update on lesson #75 about understanding directions in Swahili. A certain Vola commented and asked for an accompanying podcast-I haven’t done one of those in a while! So yeahs it took a bit of time but I eventually got to it. You can listen to it here.

Similarly, if you need an audio accompaniment for any other lesson simply ask and thou shalt receive. Amen to that!

Diamond’s ‘Salome’

Haven’t posted one of these in a while but the song am doing today is the current hit in TZ and indeed East Africa, called ‘Salome’, from our resident hit maker Diamond.  Am a huge fan-there I said it, the guy certainly knows how to produce those hits I’ll give him that!

Now this tune-Oh dear what to say?!! If you remember this post about the ‘unsayables’ in Swahili and how we use better terms to refer to them (see here) then this song is the perfect example of the use of ‘clean’ Swahili to cover up the ‘unsayables’-Oh boy I blush!! 😉 😉 😉

Anyways I don’t have the balls to explain, hope you can get someone to explain to you what this song is REALLY about (if curiosity is just about killing you that is) but in the meantime just enjoy the tune because it’s certainly very catchy. ps: Parents not around at the moment so I’ve been playing this in the house all day, but the moment they return, it’s back to using my earphones-I think you get the drift he! he!

Also note this is the remake to one Saida Karoli’s mega hit years ago called ‘Mapenzi Kizunguzungu‘ (meaning ‘love is one big headache’ basically or something along those lines!), you can watch it here.


Leo tujifunze lugha teule ya Kiswahili!

I came across the below list on social media titled as seen above. Basically it was challenging Swahili speakers like myself to see just how much proper Swahili we knew and used in our everyday vocabulary. I confess I only know a couple of words out of the whole list, mostly because most of the time it’s easier to just use the English equivalent especially for new-ish technology. There’s 39 names in the full list so we’ll do ten each time, give you a chance to memorize. Enjoy!

1) Password – nywila 

2) Juice – sharubati

3) Chips – vibanzi

4) PhD – uzamifu

5) Masters – uzamili

6) Degree – shahada

7) Diploma – stashahada

8) Certificate – astashahada

9) Keyboard – kicharazio

10) Scanner – mdaki

Hand on heart, how many did you already know? Me, 3 (hides face in shame!!!)


Haggling culture in Tanzania

First things first, I am a terrible ‘haggler’ (is that even a word?!!) I honestly don’t know how I’ve managed to keep my business afloat being so terrible at this practice, but yeahs I guess am just so darn good at what I do that it doesn’t affect me 😉

Now unlike in many western countries whereby everything is labelled hence you pay what you see on the product-no more no less, here in Afrika, and particularly in my good country of Tanzania, there’s nothing like a fixed price! And if the fixed price has to apply then the customers usually introduce the very interesting ‘payment by installments’ concept-traders just cant seem to win hey?!

The only places whereby fixed prices are generally accepted by consumers are the likes of grocery stores, supermarkets, gas stations and eating/drinking establishments. Although depending on your skills and persuasion prowess you can even get a discount on food. eg. the other day I went to this little restaurant in town and they didn’t have my favourite mboga (side dish); maharage (beans). I ordered wali na nyama (rice and meat) which was supposed to be accompanied by maharage na mbogamboga (veggies). So I stood up to walk away and the nice lady was like, unaongea tu tunaelewana (we can just talk about it and come to an understanding). So yeahs I ended up paying 3000, instead of 3500-didn’t enjoy my meal as much but the discount was well worth it!

Apart from the few places, believe you me, you can and should haggle everywhere else! Traders tend to go really hard on especially foreigners, as is the norm in most countries not just in Afrika, but live here long enough and you pretty much get the gist of it and you find yourself paying the ‘local price’-or close to it! Another thing is, if you go to the market well dressed, you are sure to get overcharged-even if you are a local! Personally, I learnt from a young age that when you go shopping in certain places you dress shabby-well not too shabby but go for a very simple look. Also if you can speak Swahili, that’s a plus for you especially for fellow Africans not necessarily from Tanzania because then you will be treated like a local. but you go there with your Kizungu (slang for English) and you’ll see how that will play out!

So next time you go to Kariakoo market to get your supplies or for ladies if you go shopping to upgrade your wardrobe don’t just pay what you are told, usually they’d add a good few thousands to the ‘real’ price eg. if a pair of shoes costs say 50,000-I would usually pay about 45,000 but the ‘real’ price could even be as low as 35,000-it all just depends on your sweet tongue, patience and determination-which I clearly don’t possess but good luck to you and happy haggling!



The famous Kariakoo market in Dar whereby you can get anything you are looking for, you just need enough strength to handle the crazy crowds and scorching heat 🙂

LESSON #101: Je, wajua? (#12)…The Lion King

(credit to animationsource.org & jenmasafaris.com)

Note: I haven’t watched the movie as much as many people have but I do remember a lot of memorable Swahili phrases and names which are on here. Of course I stand thoroughly corrected on some of the names, I pretty much borrowed the list from the cited sources above but I trust they are right on point. Any other movies with Swahili references that you can recommend? Let us know via the comment section below.

Motomoto– hot, fantastic

Simba– lion

Hakuna matata– no worries

Rafiki– friend

Pumbaa– slow witted, dumb

Nala- means gift

Sarabi– mirage

Kopa- (Simab’s son in a book series) means heart

Shenzi- means savage

Banzai- skulk or lurk

Kovu- scar

Zira- hate

Nuka- means stink

Vitani was originally going to be called Shetani which means devil. (although vita also means war and when you add ni it changes to at war)

LESSON #100: Swahili names translated (majina kwa Kiingereza)

So back in lesson#73 we did English names translated so I figured, let’s do the opposite this time.  Unfortunately all my names are English ones (actually I understand Elise is French so lets just say both my names are foreign), but I can’t wait to name my future baby with at least one Swahili name-you’d better co-operate future hubby (shakes fist 😉

Here we go, if I left out anything just let me know via the comment section below. And of course when I remember a name I’ll just update the list (already updated a couple of names). Also am no expert on the genders so I stand corrected there.

Imani (m/f)– Faith

Amani (m)– Peace

Rehema (f)– Mercy

Neema (f)– Grace

Pendo/Upendo (f)– Love

Jumanne (m)– Tuesday…ok don’t laugh!! (fun fact, since Tue is shortened as J4 in Swahili, some ‘Jumannes’ are now nicknamed Jay Four!)

Furaha (m/f)– Hapiness

Tumaini (m/f)– Hope

Tunu (f)– Treasure, Precious, Rare…how about that!!

Lulu (f)– Pearl

Pili (f)– Second…no your eyes are not deceiving you!!

Tatu (f)– Third…yup!!

Chausiku (f)– of the night (or something along those lines so given to those born at night)

Bahati (m/f)– Luck

Waridi (f)– Rose

Wema (f)– Goodness, Virtue

Ramadhani (m)– Ramadan

Iddi (m)– Eid

Amina (f), Amin (m)– Amen…dead serious!

Uwezo (f)– Capability, Ability

Juma (m)– Week (a certain source also tells me it means ‘born on Friday’)

Kulwa & Doto (m/f)– these names are usually given to twins, Kulwa being the older one, no idea what triplets and the rest are called though! Usually they’d also have other names, these are just for ease of identification I suppose.

ps: It’s our 100th lesson, how about that?!! Applause! Applause!



LESSON #99: Swahili with Lyrics…#04 (Nimekuchagua Wewe)

So I’ve recently managed to attend way too many weddings and I don’t know about other cultures but no African wedding reception is complete without a lot of dancing-too much even!

One song that tends to get repeated in virtually every wedding is this gem by one Bob Rudala called Nimekuchagua Wewe (I have chosen you). It is indeed a timeless song, been around more than 10 years and is still the go to romantic song at weddings, particularly for the first dance. The lyrics? what can I say English translation doesn’t do them justice, plenty of Swahili expressions which go way deeper than you would translate them. Am a girlie girl through and through and this song I approve!


Note: am no expert in poetic lyrics translation so any corrections are widely welcome

Nimekuchagua wewe uwe wanguI have chosen you to be mine

Verse 1

Ni safari ndefu, ya mwanadamu…..it’s a long human journey

Kimaisha na mapenzi, uwe mke ama mumein life and in love, whether you are female or female

Mara moja kubahatika, maishani mwakoto get lucky once in your life

Kumpata mtu fulani, ambaye huwa ni maalum kwako…..to find  a certain person, who is special to you

Kipenzi cha moyo wako, kwa kiasi kikubwathe love of your life, in a big way

Nimetambua na kuamini, kuwa kukutana kwetu….I have realized and believe, that us meeting

Ni mwanzo wa kutimia, kwa ile ndoto yangu….is the beginning of the fulfillment, of that dream of mine 

Ya siku nyingi, kwani pendo letu linakua…from a long time, because our love is growing

Kulingana na wakati, kila siku maishani mwangu…according to time, everyday in my life

Nilikuwa na ndoto, ya kumpata wangu mwenzi…I had a dream, of finding my spouse 

Tufunge naye pingu za maisha…we tie the knot



Nimekuchagua wewe, uwe wangu…I have chosen you to be mine

Wangu wa maisha, wa kufa na kuzikana…mine for life, ‘we die together and bury each other’ (swahili saying meaning something along the lines of soulmates/bosom buddies…)

Sijali mengi maneno watu wasemayo…I don’t care about the bad things being said by others

Yaliyopita si ndwele, tugange yanayokuja…(Swahili saying) Lets not dwell on the past and concentrate on the future


 Nakupenda wewe, malaika wa moyo wangu…I love you, the angel of my heart

Nakuhusudu wewe, ua la moyo wangu (I love you)…I adore you, the flower of my heart (nakupenda)

Moyoni nina furaha tele, upo mikononi mwangu…my heart is full of hapiness, (that) you are in my arms


Verse 2

Na kwa pete hii, ninakuoa…and with this ring, I marry you

Uwe mke wangu wa ndoa…to be my wedded wife

Hakika wewe ni ubavu wangu…For sure you are my rib

Kwa penzi nimefika, kama meli…lovewise I have arrived , like a ship

Nimetia nanga kwako, wengine katu sikutamani…I have anchored my ship , I never desired anyone else

Umewaacha wazazi wako, baba na mama…you have left your parents, dad and mom

Kwa mapendo umeungana nami…you have lovingly joined with me

Katika ndoa takatifu, na leo si wawili tena…in holy matrimony, and today we are no longer two

Tu mwili mmoja, tumwombe Mungu atujalie…we are one body, let’s pray to God to grant us

Ndoa yenye baraka, tuje tuzae na watoto…a blessed marriage, may we give birth to children

Waizunguke meza yetu, upendo utawale nyumba yetu…may they surround our table, may love reign in our home

Tuwe wakarimu kwa wageni wetu wote…may we be kind towards all our guests



Nimekuchagua wewe, uwe wangu…I have chosen you to be mine

Wangu wa maisha, wa kufa na kuzikana…mine for life, ‘we die together and bury each other’ (swahili saying meaning something along the lines of soulmates/bosom buddies…)

Sijali mengi maneno watu wasemayo…I don’t care about the bad things being said by others

Yaliyopita si ndwele, tugange yanayokuja…(Swahili saying) Lets not dwell on the past and concentrate on the future


 Nakupenda wewe, malaika wa moyo wangu…I love you, the angel of my heart

Nakuhusudu wewe, ua la moyo wangu (I love you)I adore you, the flower of my heart (nakupenda)





Translation Challenge #10… (eng>Swa)

(Goodluck with some of the vocabulary-we both gonna need it!) 😉

The Simpsons is an American sitcom that shows middle class lifestyle in cartoon form. The half-hour episodes take place in and around the fictional town of Springfield and make fun out of American culture and society.

Since the show started in 1989 the Simpsons have been broadcast over 500 times. This makes it the longest running sitcom in American television history. In 2007 a full-length movie, The Simpsons Movie, made over half a billion dollars.

The Simpsons has won many prizes, concluding the Emmy Awards. In the year 2000 Time magazine named it the best television series of the century and the cartoon characters of The Simpsons received their own star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

The Simpson family consists of 5 main characters. Homer is the rather clumsy, beer-drinking father. He works at a nuclear power plant in Springfield and is married to Marge Simpson, a typical American middle class housewife. The couple has three children. Bart is a ten-year old who constantly gets into trouble. Lisa is a highly intelligent eight-year old who has become a vegetarian and a Buddhist. Maggie, the family’s baby, is often shown with a pacifier. The Simpsons have two pets, a dog named Santa’s Little Helper and Snowball, a cat.

Even though the series focuses around animated characters, many human celebrities have starred on The Simpsons in the past, for example, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Tom Jones or Mel Gibson.

Happy Birthday To Me!!!

It’s my birthday tomorrow-yay! So in the spirit of celebrating am offering to give away free soft copies of Swahili materials including the highly recommended Simplified Swahili by the famous Mr. Wilson!

There’s a catch though (of course there is!). Just wish me a happy birthday via the comment section (then I can pretend I am ‘oh so popular’ that total strangers are sending me birthday wishes he he!) and tell me briefly if and how this little blog has helped you in your Swahili learning journey and also what your favourite category (eg. random stuff, Swahili tunes etc) or lesson is. Also if you have any suggestions for improvements, future lessons etc you can include those as well. Do that and (in Oprah Winfrey’s voice) “you are ALL getting free Swahili learning materials!”

Let the celebrations begin!!!

Happy bday Elise