Fun-Lugha ~ longa nami Kiswahili

Swahili Language Learning & Tutoring

Tumehama hapa (Fun-Lugha has moved folks, and so should you!)….(

Finally managed to move to the new diggs, thats So be sure to bookmark, subscribe, follow…the whole shabang! For those who are already subscribed/follow me-fear not I shall be taking you right along with me.
And I hope not to to see any of you loitering around here, gotta move on people ;) So see you on the other side? (if u ain’t impressed with what you find, do let me know, eagerly awaiting to hear your thoughts-no offense shall be taken, just let it rip!)

And to that end you’ll notice I’ve done away with most of the posts. And for what reason you ask? So you can all move to the new address of cuz! So hurry up and move on over to -for real this time, see u on the other side?!!

Banana Zorro’s ‘Zoba’

Zoba refers to a fool (in this case a fool in love). Let’s hope all the ‘zoba’ leave their zoba-ish ways behind and start the new month on the right foot, happy new March everyone!

LESSON #76: If Ever You’re In a Pickle…

If you are ever in trouble and need help, here’s a coupe of things to assist you:

  • Mwizi! -thief! (ensure that final I is elongated as much as possible for the full effect, something like mwiziiiiiiiiiii…

  • Nisaidieni nakufa- help me, am dying! (I pray to God you never have to say this…actually wait, maybe you should say this, people tend to respond faster to this!)

  • Moto!- fire!

  • Naomba msaada- am asking for help (please help me)

And here’s a general one. Say you need to ask something, anything, here’s what you say:

Samahani, naomba kuuliza……..-excuse me, I’d like to ask…..

Eg:……….Kituo cha polisi kiko wapi?- where is the police station?

…………..Unaifahamu barabara ya Nyerere?- do you know Nyerere Road?

…………….Nauli ni bei gani?- how much is the fare?

And lastly there’s one word we like to use, jamani. I’ve never really looked up its meaning but its something like hey, or guys or something similar, really hard to translate but when asking for help it refers to everybody,  as in you are trying to get everyone’s attention. So for eg. jamami mwizi!, jamani moto!, jamani nakufa!…….something like that, and it’s sure to get people coming to your aid.

(Actually I just looked up jamani and apparently it means ‘friend/s’. But this expression is so much more than that, so much so that am going to do a podcast on it-when time allows that is!)

Jamani usiku mwema!

LESSON #75: Understanding Swahili Directions


  • Kulia – right

  • Kushoto – left

  • Upande (pande) – side(s)

  • Mbele – in front

  • Nyuma – behind

  • Moja kwa moja – straight ahead

  • Kona – corner

  • Tembea – walk

  • Geuka – turn

  • Hatua – step(s)


Sentensi muhimu:


  • Geuka kushoto/kulia- turn left/right

  • Nenda moja kwa moja- go straight ahead

  • Tembea hatua kadhaa- walk a couple of steps

  • Kata/pinda kona- turn the corner

  • Pinda mkono wa kushoto/kulia- turn towards the left/right hand side

  • Tazama mkono wako wa kushoto/kulia- look on your left/right hand side

  • Nenda mbele (kidogo)- go forward (a bit)

  • Rudi nyuma (kidogo)- turn back (a bit)

Tanzanians’ ‘Interesting’ Naming Habits

If 10 Tanzanians gathered in one place, I can assure you atleast one’s name is bound to blow your mind-literally!

We are not known for our English language prowess but I think someone somewhere went to great lengths to teach us lots of English nouns and we learnt them, loved them and just ran wild with the newly acquired knowledge.

Banana (yeahs this one clearly takes the cake-or is that banana?!) Goodness, Goodluck, Lightness, Gladness, Witness, Happiness, Very Nice (no kidding!) are just a few of the English nouns (?) you are going to encounter going around parading themselves as people’s names.

That’s the thing with Africans in general though. We name kids depending on the way/date on which they made their arrival. Eg. My mom was born on my grandparents’ anniversary, so they named her Mueni, which is the Kamba word for a guest (as in she was the special guest)
Not all names give out a positive vibe though. Take for example a kid that was born the day terrorists blew up a building in Nairobi in 1998 and his parents decided to name him “Bomb Blast”….I mean really?! How to live with that? And he should be a teenager right now-Lord help him!

Now I feel like I should appreciate my parents even more for giving me a ‘normal’ name that doesn’t get people automatically snickering and rolling their eyes when I introduce myself.  Although with a French sounding name like mine a new set of problems arises. What was originally Elise, has been given dozens of variations like  Elisi, Elis, Alice, Alisi…just to name a few, can’t have my cake and eat it I suppose :(

Do you think this just a Tanzanian/African thing or have you come across some mind-blowing names where you are from? Do share!

LESSON #74: Hadithi, Hadithi…#4 (Digidigi Akitazama Ndani ya Maji)

Story link:


Msamiati (vocabulary):

Digidigi – dik dik

Jamii - family (category, group)

Swala - gazelle, impala

Pembe - horn (s)

Kila mara - everytime

Kuvingirika - to roll/to curl (zimevingirika- had been rolled/curled)

Kutamani – to desire (wanazitamani- they desire them)

Taswira - picture/appearance

Kulalamika – to complain (akilalamika- he was complaining)

Kufukuza – to try to catch (akamfukuza- he tried to catch him)

Kushinda – to win (kumshinda- to beat him)

Mbio - speed/running

Kukimbiza – to chase (kukimbizana- to chase each other)

Kichaka – bush (kichakani- in the bush)

Kunasa – to entrap (zilinasa- they became entrapped)

Mchongoma - madras thorn

Kuponza – to jeorpadize (zilizoniponza- that put me in jeopardy)

Banana Zorro’s ‘Mama Yangu’

No am not winding you up, his name really is Banana! (in Swahili we’d call him Ndizi!) Name jokes aside, this guy comes from one of the most musically talented families in TZ. His dad is a very respected artist, very cool too. They do gigs together with their band which is super awesome- father/son duos being rare to come by and all.

He dedicated this tune to his mom, who is actually the lady in the video. Sadly she’s passed on but I bet she knew just how much her son cherished and respected her. Am sure you know but just incase you didn’t ‘mama yangu’  means my mom. And if you’ve been taking your mama for granted of late (no phone calls, no visits…) then the least you can do is send her this video- she’s sure to get the message and love you even more for it, it’s called a mother’s heart, they are forgiving that way!


LESSON #73: English names translated (Majina kwa Kiswahili)

So I was teaching someone today and we came upon the name David and I said “by the way that’s Daudi in Swahili.” Then I had this brilliant idea to teach you the Swahili versions of some common English names. I feel like am cheating cuz most (if not all) of the names am gonna list come from the Bible. And since I grew up reading the Swahili Bible….yeahs piece of cake! Am no name expert but I can pretty much tell you how we’d say your name in these parts even if it doesn’t have its Swahili equivalent. So ask on. (For instance my other name is Elise but most people call me Elisi- how I cringe!)

Onto the list: (grab ur dusty Bibles!)

Adam- Adamu

Eve- Hawa/Eva

Noah- Nuhu

Ruth- Ruthu

Joseph- Yusufu

Jacob- Yakobo

Samuel- Samweli

Esther- Esta

Job- Ayubu

Isaiah- Isaya

Jeremiah- Yeremia

Ezekiel- Ezekieli

Daniel- Danieli

Joel- Yoeli

Amos- Amosi

Jonah- Yona

Peter- Petro

James- Yakobo

Thomas- Tomaso

Matthew- Matayo

Mark- Marko

Luke- Luka

John- Yohana

Timothy- Timotheo

Titus- Tito

Micah- Mika

Zachary- Zekaria

Philip- Filipo

Joshua- Yoshua

I do admit some names are quite ancient but am pretty sure atleast one person is named or knows someone (dead or alive that is!) with at least one of these names. Y’all can now go ahead and start using your Swahili names- awesome stuff!

LESSON #72: Methali…#7

“Mficha uchi hazai”

Mficha- a person that hides

Uchi- nakedness

Hazai- doesn’t bear children

So literally this means if you refuse to strip infront of the midwives then of course there’ll be no baby born (God help you!) But of course the deeper meaning is that if you hide your problems and not seek help then you wont be able to solve them and suffer alone. It’s very much related to the English saying, “no man is an island”. (Note to self: ask for help relocating this blog, or it’s never gonna happen ;) )

Translation Challenge #6… (swa-eng)

Nina furaha sana kusherehekea mwaka mmoja tangu tovuti hii kuanzishwa. Kusema ukweli sikuanza na matarajio makubwa, nilitaka tu kuwaonyesha wanafunzi wangu sampuli za mbinu ninazotumia kufundisha na pia kuwapa watu wasiojua Kiswahili ladha kidogo tu ya lugha hii, yani tunaita kionjo. Mwanzoni watu walikuwa wanakuja tu wanachungulia wanaondoka, bila hata kuniachia mawazo yao. Ila sasa nafurahi sana ninapoona watu wanaambiana juu ya tovuti hii, wanawasiliana nami kupitia mitandao ya jamii na wengine hata kuniweka kwenye orodha ya vifaa vya kujifunza Kiswahili (,……sielewi Kijerumani ila natumaini wameandika mambo mazuri tu!

Asanteni sana kina Boga, Joyce Keeley, Madebe na wengine wote wanaozidi kutembelea na kurusha maswali, “komenti” nk. zinazonisaidia kuboresha ninachokiandika hapa. Inshallah tutasherehekea hata miaka kumi na zaidi ila kwa sasa ntashukuru tu tukifikisha mwaka wa pili.

Mungu ibariki Fun-Lugha!

Post Navigation

Maneno Matamu

A space dedicated to African languages and African poetry

Education, the Environment and Social Justice Discussions

Taste of Tanzania (TM)

Swahili Language Learning & Tutoring


Swahili Language Learning & Tutoring


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 569 other followers

%d bloggers like this: