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The Browns – Tom, Ali, Crescena, Bez, & Ber
June 20, 2012 11:26 pm
Published in: Uncategorized

Habari za asubuhi?  Nzuri sana, nawe? Salama sana….  So goes a typical greeting in Kiswahili, the trade (and most commonly spoken) language in Kenya.  It is the equivalent of our “Hi, how are you? Fine, you? Fine.”

There are roughly 69 different languages spoken in Kenya (depending on how you break it up) so the need for a unifying language that will be cross cultural is important.  Most Kenyans speak their tribal home language (such as Kikuyu, Kiluhya, Kikamba, etc), Kiswahili, English, and usually at least one other tribal language.  Interestingly, Kiswahili is a combination of different languages mixed together that was developed somewhere around 1000 years ago.

So, why the language and history lesson?  Well, simply because that is what we are spending most of our energy on these days.  Having completed my maintenance rotation, we have been given 1 1/2 months to study Kiswahili.  We spent the first two weeks in Nairobi with some basic introductions, and now are spending the last month in Mombasa on the coast.

Although the Kenyan coast is beautiful with sandy beaches, palm trees, consistent 80 degree temps, and a warm Indian Ocean to enjoy, that’s not why we chose the coast.  Kiswahili, like any language, changes over time and location, and, in Nairobi, has been significantly diluted and even further mixed with the languages of the tribes and the slang of the youth.  Because of that, many people encouraged us to go to the coast where, “they speak the good Kiswahili.”  Since we want to be able to communicate in Kiswahili wherever we are, and not just the Nairobi version, we took their advice.

So, here we are, learning language and culture, and sure, getting in some beach time on the weekend.  After all, who’d pass up their first opportunity to go swimming in a new ocean when they were so close?

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