If Hakuna Matata is the only Swahili word you know then you need an orientation into the language.
Hakuna Matata is a Swahili phrase popularized by Disney’s ‘The Lion King’. Though popular around the world, it is a detested phrase in Kenya. So refrain from using the phrase or singing Hakuna Matata for the ‘no problem’ or worries song could leave you with a lot of trouble.
See it as how a black person living in the USA may take offense if a stranger called him or her a nigga.
Though Hakuna Matata is not advisable to use, there are other Swahili words within the Lion King that could get you on your way around Kenya.
Simba, Rafiki and Pumbaa are all Swahili words. Simba means lion, Rafiki means friend and Pumbaa means foolish.
Other words that are interesting are the Swahili words for welcome and thank you which are Karibu and Asante respectively. I for one find it beautiful that Asante means thank you.
Swahili also has a slang version called Sheng. Its kind of a mix between English and Swahili.
The phrase that sticks out to me is the phrase for ‘what’s up’; which is interesting because the first time I heard it I thought someone was asking me if I knew where Kofi was or if I was Kofi.
Strangely enough I am a Friday born and bear the name Kofi. (Though no one ever calls me that). I digress; the Sheng term for ‘what’s up’ is ‘uko fiti?’ and the usual response is ‘niko fiti‘ which means ‘I’m good’.
Well this my rafikis is where our lesson ends today. Look out for tomorrow’s post on Kenyan tea.
I will like to send a special asante to my Swahili teacher Waksy who is also a singer. Check her out on twitter or instagram @waksy_ or on Facebook @WAKSY
So be a Simba and don’t be Pumbaa.
Keep it One HONDRED!