Kutoa ni moyo, si utajiri…

As I’ve said before this saying means giving is all about a generous heart and nothing to do with having deep pockets.

Keeping that in mind, my student and friend Astrid left for Kenya two weeks ago to work on a charity project she and some friends are involved with. She’ll be away for two whole months-making a big difference to the lives of some less fortunate little malaikas. The idea is to raise 33,000 USD to build a school and for that these guys are gonna spend 33 nights with 33 different families. To support them just give them 3 USD for each night. A crazy but totally brilliant idea!

If you’d like to join the cause, click the link for more info. Kutoa ni moyo, well done Astrid,  proud of you!


Kombe la dunia! (Funlugha’s first Swahili books giveaway!)

So it’s that season again when men pretty much take over the remote and if they are unfortunate enough to be living with no nonsense ladies then it’s the season where they pretty much spend all their after work hours at the corner pub. Kombe la dunia literally means the (big) cup of the world a.k.a the world cup. I remember watching my very first world cup in 1994-USA. Then I missed France ’98 and Korea 2002 because I was in boarding school-boo! After that, I havent missed a single one and this year won’t be any different.

Only problem is the timings, so for example today’s match starts at 11pm EAT-which means we’ll be watching matches way past our bedtimes-I feel sorry for all the employers out there, the excuses people are gonna be coming up with in order to miss work 😉

And in the spirit of kombe la dunia am giving away 3 Swahili teaching books for free. One of which is the highly recommended Simplified Swahili and the other 2 are Swahili phrase books for the tourist needing to navigate their way around Swahili land or anybody else looking to learn some useful basic phrases.All you have to do is subscribe to my blog (I could seriously do with more subscribers!) and leave a comment on any post including the words “funlugha giveaway” and I’ll take note and hopefully good things will come your way. You can also leave a comment on my facebook page or on twitter-the more comments the better. Remember blog subscribers only. Winners will be announced after the WC of cuz-goodluck! (And may Afrika finally win the best team win!)

LESSON #91: Swahilinization

Not sure the above is a legit term but I use it to refer to the making of foreign words into Swahili sounding ones without losing the original word’s essence. The good thing about Swahili is that if you don’t know what a word (particularly an English one) is in Swahili, it’s absolutely acceptable to swahilinize it even though it may not be a recognised word in the kamusi. As long as the other party gets the meaning then well and good. (Though I advise my students to employ this technique sparingly as otherwise their Swahili vocabulary may suffer).

If you are a keen Swahili student then you must have come across noun classes (ngeli). One easily recognizable one is the N class whose main characteristic is that many of its nouns tend to be borrowed from other languages. In what sense are they borrowed? Swahilinization.

I haven’t come across a rule or formula to be used when swahilinizing but here’s a number of N class swahilinized nouns that may give you an idea of how to go about it. Am not gonna translate them for you since am confident you can figure that out pretty easily. Go on, impress me 😉

mashine, sinema, picha, baiskeli, skuli, shule, motokaa, trekta, kompyuta, soksi, sketi, shati, blauzi, boti, pea, papai, peni, penseli, begi, n.k.

Cultural Note: The Kanga

images 2014-05-31-15-35-28--243726405

I have talked about the (in)famous piece of cloth that is known as kanga (or leso, across the border to the north) when I posted on Taarab Music (you can find the wee extract here ). But I was pleasantly surprised to find a whole article dedicated to it in one of the leading newspapers in the region and wanted to share it with you.

It gives a good insight into the history, use and benefits of the kanga and also the cultural importance attached to it. Very interesting and informative read. Rather than me quoting bits and bobs of it, you’re better off reading it in its entirety methinks. Check it out

LESSON #90: Methali…#8

“Ponda mali kufa kwaja”

Ponda- crush

Mali- wealth/money

Kufa- dying/to die

Kwaja- is coming/cometh

As you may have already figured out this means spend/enjoy your wealth/money because eventually death awaits you. Very sobering message if you ask me! And thats my message for the weekend, live life but live it wisely cuz death does await you 😉


Translation Challenge #9… (swa-eng)


Jana nimebahatika kutazama filamu moja yenye asili ya Kichina iitwayo “Under The Hawthorn Tree”. Filamu hii inatokana na kitabu kimoja maarufu sana chenye jina hilo hilo ambacho kimeuza nakala zaidi ya milioni moja nchini China tu.

Kwa ufupi hadithi inaelezea mapenzi kati ya msichana mdogo maskini na mvulana aliyetoka kwenye familia yenye uwezo wakati wa miaka ya sabini nchi ya China ilipokuwa kwenye kipindi kigumu cha mapinduzi.

Kwa kweli filamu hii ni nzuri mno na waigizaji wakuu walifanya kazi ya kusifika kabisa. Kama hujaitazama au kusoma kitabu cha hadithi hii ningekushauri ufanye hivyo na nakuahidi utakuja kunishukuru. Ila nikupe tahadhari moja tu-hakikisha una kleenex mkononi kwa sababu ninakuhakikishia utaihitaj!



Bridal Send-off party, Tanzanian Style!

Been a long time indeed, ila nimerudi tena. Been too busy, between making a living and frequent gym visits (aiming to lose 10 kgs by my birthday in July!) I haven’t had a minute to myself,nawaomba mniwie radhi kwa hilo!

Anyways I had a free minute yesterday and went to a sherehe (event/party) called a send-off, as in bridal send-off. It’s the last celebration before the wedding ceremony and this is all for the bride although the groom is invited as well but no one pays him much attention cuz it’s not about him-though you may argue since when was any part of the wedding about the groom?- I rest my case!

It’s basically when the bride’s family officially hands her over to the in-laws and of course there’s also loads of gifting going on to the bride and mother of the bride as well, just a little kudos for raising her daughter and stuff.

Anyways if you live in Tanzania you’ll come to learn that the final week before the wedding is mostly spent on sherehe. There’s the kitchen party (equivalent to hen party), then the send off, then the mkesha wa harusi and lately I hear men have started having stag dos (the actual name escapes me). So yeahs basically weddings are a big deal here (as they should be methinks) and for that reason we find any excuse to party right until the wedding day!

I took photos of cuz (hopefully no one sues me!)

Here’s two, enjoy!


The bride and guests shaking a leg-you know that famous wedding dance that African Americans have to perform at weddings? We used to call it shuffling, I don’t know what Americans call it.


The bride (in pink, in front) going to search for her groom amongst the guests-one of the highlights of the event, you get single men trying to woo her like are you sure you’d rather not have me? It’s a good laugh!

LESSON #89: Swahili with lyrics…#02 (Majanga)-UPDATED

I did promise I would cover this song and since ahadi ni deni (a promise is a debt) here you go. The lyrics are interesting in that the type of Swahili used is more poetic than your usual grammatically correct kind of Swahili, so keeping that in mind I will translate in a way that is better understood by those who are not too knowledgeable in the language.

As for the general meaning it’s referring to one person doing all the dirty work whilst somebody else is reaping all the benefits or in other cases the person that should be compensated for losses/damage caused to them is the one being accused of causing them in the first place. You get the drift. So without further ado… (enjoy singing along while I translate, will be done in a minute)


Mama yuko hoi mama, tumpeleke hospitalini, dokta anataka salali
mom is in bad condition, we should take her to the hospital, the doctor (however) is asking for his salary

Pigwa nimepigwa mie, polisi kawahi yeye, kibao nimegeuziwa mie
am the one who got beaten, he’s the one who hurried to the police, now the tables have been turned against me

Pombe nimenunua mie, kulewa kalewa yeye, ugomvi kaanzisha yeye
I bought the alcohol, yet he’s the one that got drunk, he’s the one that started a fight
Kijijini nimtoe mie, kumlisha nimlishe mie, jeuri afanye yeye
I get her from the village, I feed her, yet she’s the one being rude to me/showing me attitude

Majanga, majanga mbona majanga, mbona majanga….
disaster, disaster, this is just disaster

Ndoa tumefunga sie, mapenzi yetu wenyewe, talaka udai wewe
we got married, it’s our love, but you are the one asking for a divorce
Nyimbo nimeimba mie, video nimeshuti mie, shoo ukafanye wewe
I sang the song, I shot the video, you are the one doing the shows
Chumba nimetafuta mie, kodi nilipe mwenyewe, nje unilaze wewe
I looked for the room, I paid the rent, yet you are the one making me sleep outside
Gari ninunue mie, mafuta niweke mie, misele upige wewe
I buy the car, I buy gas, yet you are the one cruising in it

Majanga, majanga…..

Kumzaa nimzae mie, kumlea nimlee mie, matusi anitukane yeye
I give birth to him, I raise him, yet he’s the one insulting me
Mahari atoe yeye, kuoa aoe yeye, vya ndani uvile wewe

he pays the bride price (dowry), he marries (the girl), yet you are the one enjoying the benefits (having an affair with the wife
Hela katafuta yeye, nyumba kajenga mwenyewe, mali tugombee sie
he worked for the money, he built the house, yet we are the ones fighting for his property (after death)
Kufiwa nifiwe mie, kulia nilie mie, pole uchukue wewe
I am the bereaved, I am the one mourning, yet you are the one accepting the condolence money

Majanga, majanga…

Translation Challenge #8…(swa-eng)

Mvua za Bongo:

Miaka saba imepita tangu niondoke nyumbani, nimerudi hivi majuzi tu. Loh! Niliyoyaona yameniacha kinywa wazi! Wahenga walisema ukishangaa ya Musa utayaona ya Firauni, ama kweli nimeyaona.

Hivi karibuni msimu wa mvua za masika ulianza. Basi kero tunazozipata wakazi wa Dar ni kubwa sana. Matope kila unapokwenda, foleni za magari zisizoisha, maji machafu kujaa barabarani, madaraja kuvunjika na mito kufurika na kusababisha wanaoishi bondeni kulazimika kuhama kwani mali zao zote aidha zimesombwa au kuharibiwa na maji.

Kibaya zaidi hali hii haibadiliki kila mwaka ni yale yale. Viongozi wetu wanazidi kutuangusha kwa hili. Miundombinu ni mibovu na haifai kwa karne hii ya ishirini na moja. Tunaomba tu Mola uchaguzi mkuu ukifika mwakani wananchi wawapigie kura viongozi watakaotuokoa na haya majanga yanayosababishwa na mvua. Mungu ibariki Tanzania.

LESSON #88: Swahili Sounds…#3 (“mb-” & “mw-“)

Moving on from lesson #81 (“dh-” sound), let’s look at two of m- combination sounds that may give Swahili learners a bit of a headache.

i) mb-
This sounds the same as in the English words remember, December, number  etc.

So you get mba – mbe – mbi – mbo – mbu

And Swahili words like nambari, embe, mbio, mboga, mbu na kadhalika (etc)


ii) mw-
I believe this sound doesn’t exist in English (ready to stand corrected of course).

You get mwa – mwe – mwi – mwo – mwu

And Swahili words like mwanadamu, mwezi, mwizi, mwongozo, mwuguzi na kadhalika.


So now you’ve learnt 4 important Swahili sounds plus of course the vowels hence your pronunciation has no business being mediocre still, you should have been upgraded atleast about 20-30%?!

Till next time…