When I first went to Kenya I realized that there were words and phrases that I caught onto quickly because I had to use them so much. While I didn't have much trouble communicating in more popular areas like the capital, Nairobi, or where I was going to University, Eldoret, once I got into the rural area of Bungoma things got a little tricky.
Here are some important words I learned while hanging out with the kids living on the streets of Bungoma...the Children of Bungoma:
1. Hello, what's the news? (Greeting) - Habari?
Habari? Habari yako? These are typical phrases heard as greetings throughout Kenya. You may have heard the popular phrase, "Jambo!", but this is seldom used and is really just what foreigners say to try to 'fit in'.
2. I'm fine - Mzuri sana.
Just one of many responses to a greeting. Mzuri. Mzuri sana. Either one is fine. Or you can say "iko sawa" - I'm fine.
3. Come - Kuja.
Normally we use this word as more of an explanation. KUJA! Come here, your dinner is ready!
4. Jump / Run / Dance - Ruka / Kimbia / Cheza!
These are fun words to use when trying to entertain the younger kids. Cheza for life!
5. Toilet - Choo.
Always an important word to know when traveling anywhere!
6. Food - Chakula.
Also an important word to know when traveling. Some popular foods in Kenya are Ugali (thick, stiff porridge made from white cornmeal), Chapati (flatbread) and Sukuma Wiki (kale).
7. Water - Maji
Water is life!
8. Van / Motorcycle / Bike - Matatu / Piki Piki / Boda Boda
There are so many ways to get around in Kenya that are easily accessible and super cheap! These are just some of the main ways. There are also cars (Gari) and auto rickshaws (Tuk Tuks). Our favorite mode of transportation are Piki Pikis. They are not only fun but also fun to say!
9. School - Shule
When asking the kids on the streets what they wanted the most, the resounding answer was SHULE!
10. Home - Nyumba
Surprisingly, or not so surprisingly, this was the second most popular answer.
11. Left/Right - Kushoto / Kulia
Very important when traveling, especially when on the back of a Piki Piki! You can explain where you're going with just these simple words. Trust me, I've done it. I've also had to use Simama! (Stop!) if we have gone too far.
12. Bye - Kwaheri.
See ya later! Asante Sana (Thanks) for supporting Children of Bungoma!