kiswahili for beginners
fws programs are designed within a local context, for the local community - so we are naturally keen to expand our knowledge in this area and continue to foster local culture.
A big part of this is taking the time to learn (and practise) the local lingo of the community in which we work. At Kesho Leo children's village, this language is Kiswahili (or Swahili in English) - a Bantu language that is spoken widely throughout East Africa.
So, whether you're an fws volunteer, visitor, supporter, or just plain curious: we've put together the fws Kiswahili Guide for Beginners, to help you get started!
If you have any key Swahili phrases you think deserve a listing, please feel free to email your additions to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Asante sana.
Tanzanians love greetings, and there is a multitude of ways to greet each other. A short walk to the sokoni (market), and you're bound to be stopped along the way by plenty of friendly locals who are keen for a chat.
Locals love it when people make the effort to try their language...so don't worry about being laughed at (it's inevitable!) as you test out your newly found Kiswahili pronunciation prowess.
Asante: Thank you (people say thank you all the time and please - tafadhali - is rarely used)
Asante sana: Thank you very much
Karibuni: Welcome (to two or more people)
Asanteni: Thank you (to two or more people)
Shikamoo: Respectful greetings (said to elders)
Marahaba: I accept and return your respect
Nimefurahi kukutana na wewe: I'm happy to meet you
Na mimi pia: And me also
Hodi: (Expression used when asking to enter a house or room)
Habari za asubuhi: How is your morning?
Salama: Peaceful / safe
Habari za leo: How is today?
Nzuri sana: Very good
Safi sana: Great
Habari yako: How are things with you?
Mambo / Mambo vipi: How's it going? (Colloquial, said to young people)
Poa, Freshi, Safi: Cool / Fine
Hujambo: How are you?
Sijambo: I am fine
Hamjambo: How are you? (to two or more people)
Hatujambo: We are fine
Useful words & phrases
Pole sana: I feel bad / very sorry for you (it means empathy)
Asante: Thank you
Naomba: I would like
Nataka: I want
Sitaki asante: I don't want it / no thank you
Sijui: I don't know
Najua: I know
Sielewi: I don't understand
Naelewa: I understand
Unasema Kiswahili: Do you speak Swahili?
Kidogo sana: Very little
Shillingapi: How much?
Ni bei gani: What price?
Samahani: Excuse me / I'm sorry (when something is your fault)
Kwa nini: Why?
Kwa sababu: Because
Ninakuja: I come / I'm coming
Unatoka wapi: Where do you come from?
Ninatoka .......... : I come from .........
Umetoka wapi: Where are you coming from?
Nimetoka shule: I'm coming from school
Unakwenda wapi: Where are you going?
Ninakwenda nyumbani: I'm going home
Jina lako nani: What is your name?
Jina langu .......... : My name is ..........
Unafanya nini: What are you doing?
Ninafanya kazi: I am working
Una miaka mingapi: How old are you?
Nina miaka .......... : I'm .......... years old
Polepole: Slowly slowly
kwa haraka: In a hurry
Usiku mwema: Good night
Na wewe pia: And you also
Lala salama: Sleep safely
Ndoto njema: Dream well
Tutaonana kesho: See you tomorrow
Hakuna matata: No worries
Hamna shida: No problem
Hamna tatizo: No problem
Family & people
Jamaa: Family / relatives
Laki: Hundred thousand
Days and time
Sasa hivi: Right Now
Saa: Hour, clock
Saa ngapi: What's the time?
Sasa ni saa .......... : The time now is ..........
Dakika moja: Just a moment
Subiri kidogo: Wait a little
Jua kali: Fierce sun
Mvua inanyesha: It's raining
Kuna upepo: It's windy
Kwaherini: Goodbye all
Tutaonana tena: See you again
Tutaonana baadaye: See you later
Nimefurahi sana kukufahamu: I'm very happy to know you
Safari njema: Good journey
Sasa tutaendelea kujifunza pamoja!
(Now we'll continue to learn together!)