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language learning

What is this song?

Elliot has started preschool at an English-medium school where there seems to be a whole lot of Swahili going on. We’re not sure of the exact balance or how much he’ll pick up of what. Since he started 2 or 3 weeks ago, we have been puzzling over the words […]

Tanzanian proverbs about keeping on going

Particularly among university students, there is a desire for self-, life-, and nation-improvement. Sometimes that can feel very overwhelming, whether it’s in the pressures of exams or the bigger picture of being one person trying to make a difference in their nation. These proverbs seem particularly relevant. Haba na haba […]

Tanzanian proverbs on relationships

I’ve picked up my book of Tanzanian proverbs again recently, and here are a few about relationships. Damu ni nzito kuliko maji – Blood is heavier than water. This looks like the English proverb ‘Blood is thicker than water’ but it has an extra connotation. On top of the idea […]

Who is an Mswahili? Am I?

This semester I am again studying in the Swahili department at St John’s University where we work. All the lectures are in Swahili so it’s a brilliant exercise for me in listening comprehension, which is appropriate because this time I’m doing a third year course ‘Theory and Traditions of Oral […]

Tanzanian Proverbs

We picked up a couple of books of Swahili proverbs a while back and I’ve been using them for a language exercise. Each proverb is stated, with a short explanation of it in Swahili and then some comments about how it is used. Some of them are very telling about […]