19 June 2012


Most of us find living with foreigners, nationals of other countries, well hard. I came to experience that first hand. Not that I have a problem with them, but from how I  have grown, with Kenyans around me, it becomes hard, especially in the communication sector.
I am currently on attachment and where I stay, a Tanzanian happens to be my neighbor. It is not the Tanzanian I have a problem with, its me. You see, the first time she came, she said “Jambo” and I was left thinking, who uses Swahili Sanifu these days? Little did I know that I would be digging up my archives to look for basic Swahili words for things I easily say in Shenglish (sheng + English).
So on the first day, I wanted to let her know that supper/dinner is being served. All I came up with was “Wanapatiana chakula” which  could easily be misintepreted for calling the other person a beggar. I felt so ashamed.

 Then came the names, never before had I gotten used to be called by the Swahili version of my name but I have to get used to being called “Dorkasi”. (sigh).
Then came the other day when I was away for the weekend and when I came back she said “Jameni Dorkasi, nimekukosa”. From what I learnt, “Kukosa” means missing someone (sigh).

Sunday was the worst of my Swahili vocab days. When she asked me to let her know where I attend my services and the order of services, my mind went blank as I searched my brain library for the Swahili word for “service”. After a long search, I just said “Savisi ya kwanza (1st service)….Savisi ya pili(2nd service)…” and once again, I felt totally ashamed.
And to think that Swahili is our official national language, I felt like taking a course on the language. Now I can’t help but remember a statement bu one of my friends on this matter. He said, “Wakenya inatufaa sote tuishi Mombasa ili tujue Kiswahili, kwani wakati East Afrika itashikanishwa, tutawezaje kufanya biashara na watanzania?”. What he was saying was as Kenyans and Kiswahili being our  official national language, when East Africa will be merged and  the same Kiswahili is made a regional language, we will not be able to do business. How well do you know your national Language?