Here are some Kiswahili words I learned in Kenya. They seemed much easier to remember than the Ahmaric words I tried to learn in Ethiopia. The most important word to know is Salaam, which means peace and is a standard Arabic greeting. And it works in Ethiopia as well.
See the Ahmaric characters on the computer keyboard?
Okay, here are the ones that it’s important for everyone to know so we teach them first to children. So our guides taught them to us.
Tafadhali — Please
Asante — Thank you
Karibu — You’re welcome. To make these “bigger,” add Sana, which is used like very.
Chakula — food
Jambo — Hello. My Jambo must have gotten so good that one day when I used it at the hotel, I had to stop the flood of Kiswahili that followed.
Harambe — working together, which people use when they have to push a car out of an intersection and everyone has to push together.
Hakuna matata — no problem
Matatu — a very crowded, radically driven mini-bus used for transportation. Kenya’s say that it’s not a coincidence that their name is so close to the Kiswahili word for problem, matata.
Pole — sorry
Pole pole — slow, slow
Twiga — giraffe