I bet Jan wishes Kiswahili could build this bridge.

Poleni sana! Sorry, everybody!  This post was supposed to go out last week, but we’ve had some wireless issues (the issue is that we had none).  Hakuna haraka katika Tanzania (no hurry in Tanzania).

It’s been about 9 years since I have spoken Kiswahili in a serious way.  I found a few Kenyans while I was at MIT, but didn’t want to impose on them.  When my adopted sister Wavinya returned to Kenya, I no longer had a Kiswahili phone buddy in the States.  In Georgia I’ve tried a little with Dr. Moshi and this guy from Lake Victoria who works on placental malaria, but I mostly just stutter.  Sometimes random people will say, “Speak some Swahili,” just to hear it, but it feels silly, talking to people I know can’t understand.

Now that we have arrived in Tanzani, the context is right, and it’s coming back to me.  My vocabulary is a little spotty.  I will often remember one word and then forget its opposite.  I remember front (mbele), but not back.  I remember right (kulia), but not left.   I remember expensive (ghali), but not cheap.  Some times I mix things up like next week and last week.

Even my spotty child-level Kiswahili is a huge advantage. Kiswahili builds bridges. It’s easier to communicate with kids and little old ladies, it shows respect for my host country, and it gives me a nice variety of ways to tell hawkers and conmen to buzz off.

Sisahau sana (I haven’t forgotten completely).  Nimefurahi sana kukumbuka kidogo (I’m happy to have remembered a little).

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