Since we’ll be off to Mombasa where people tend to speak more Kiswahili than English we had our first language lesson last night; a bit of a crash course in greetings and the verb “to be”. To a native English speaker the language is complicated and just not intuitive. But beautiful and interesting. My favourite greeting so far is “shikamoo” = shee-kah-MOH-oh = “I touch your feet?” to which the elder answers “marahaba”. How cool is that?
How else is it not intuitive? Well, for starters, “si” is the way to negate (at least in present “to be”). For someone who has studied Spanish for a long time this is confusing because “si” means yes*.
Embarrassing language moment: I couldn’t even break a word into syllables! I was working with an adult client on speech and one technique is to break up the syllables by pacing (speaking more slowly) and emphasizing the sounds to be more easily understood. I had the client teach me a few new kiswahili words and off we went. Fundi = technician. /foon-dee/ Syllables foon-dee. Right? Wrong. The syllables are foo-ndi. The /n/ goes with the /d/. I did this multiple times with the client and didn’t realize until that night after doing some research on the sounds of kiswahili that I was way off. At least we all had a good laugh the next day about my ineptitude.
Mimi ni Katie.
Mimi ni mcanada.
Mimi ni msichana.
I’m a person (in the first noun class) and I’m just one person so all of the nouns referring to me take on an /m/. If it were about Hi-C and me it would be “sisi ni wacanada”. Plural takes a “wa”. But only for classes 1 and 2 of nouns (I think there are 10ish classes – we haven’t gotten there yet).
AAAAAnd the big REVEAL:
Where will Hi-C and I be going for our final two weeks in Africa? Our (tentative) plans are:
-finish placement in mbita on the coast of lake victoria
-grab a bus to jinga, Uganda for some white water rafting.
-get back on the bus and head to….RWANDA for a few days. See some sights.
-head back to Nairobi
-3 days in the maasai mara (aka serengeti) tracking animals and waiting for the wildebeest to migrate
-back to Nairobi to fly home
*Technically the “si” should have an accent on the /i/ to mean yes instead of “if” but I don’t feel like figuring out how to do that right now.