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Safari greetings – Swahili basics

While on safari, it is always nice to communicate with the locals in their own language. Here’s a list of terms and expressions you may want to learn before venturing to East Africa…

The Basics

Jambo/Hujambo – Hello.
Habari/Habari gani – How are you?
Habari yako – What’s your news?
Nzuri – Fine.
Nzuri tu – Just fine.
Nzuri sana – Very well.
Jina lako nani – What is your name?
Jina langu ni – My name is…
Habari za asubuhi – Good morning.
Habari za mchana – Good afternoon.
Habari za jioni – Good evening.
Asante – Thank you.
Asante sana – Thank you very much.
Hodi – Anyone in? “Before entering a house” (as you approach).
Karibu – Welcome/Come in/Enter.
Kwaheri – Goodbye/Bye.
Kwaheri ni – Goodbye (many).
Lala salama – Sleep well.
Unakwenda wapi – Where are you going?
Unatoka wapi – Where are you from?
Ndiyo – Yes.
Hapana – No.
Sijui – I don’t know.
Kidogo – A little.
Tafadhali – Please.
Hakuna matata/Hakuna wasiwasi – No problem/No worries (like in the “Lion King” song :)).

People

Rafiki – Friend.
Bwana – Sir.
Bibi – Madam.
Mke – Wife.
Mtoto – Child/Kid (plural is “Watoto”).
Mume – Husband.
Kaka – Brother.
Dada – Sister.
Mjomba – Uncle.
Dereva – Driver.

Time

Wapi – Where.
Hapa – Here.
Sasa – Now.
Sasa hivi – Soon.
Baadaye – Later.
Tutaonana – See you later.
Kesho – Tomorrow.
Pole pole – Slowly slowly/Slowly but surely.

Apologies

Samahani – Sorry/Forgive me (apology).
Pole – Sorry (sympathy).
Pole sana – Very sorry.

Swahili Video – Intro & Greetings

Want to Learn More?

Animal Names in Swahili & Other African Languages.

Swahili 101: kulmansam (YouTube).

Swahili Language & Culture (Website).

Swahili Phrasebook (Website).

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