Does everyone speak English?

Although most people speak some English (and some people speak it very well!), the ‘lingua franca’ is Bantu language Swahili – this is the language most people use day-to-day, as well as local languages Luyha and Luo. To make sure that you are understood, please speak slowly, calmly and clearly and repeat as necessary. Getting frustrated will not make anyone understand you any better! Local staff and volunteers are always available and willing to translate if necessary – please just ask. You may even decide to learn a few words of Swahili during your stay – here are a few to get you started!

Hello Jambo (response: Jambo)
Hi/How’s it going? Mambo/Sasa (response: ‘poa!’)
How are you/what news? Habari/Habari yako? (response: ‘mzuri!’)
All (very) good/fine Mzuri (sana)
Please Tafadhali
Thank you (so much) Asante (sana)
Welcome/you’re welcome Karibu
Repeat/say that again Rudia/Tena
What are you doing/up to? Unafanya nini?
Where are you going? Pesa ngapi?
What time is it? Saa ngapi?
Let’s play football! Tucheze mpira
I’m tired Ni me choka
I’m hungry/thirsty Ni me shiba/Ni na kiwi
Goodbye Kwaheri


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The Nasio Trust