Mimi ni Ospreyshire.
Nimefurahi kukutana na wewe!
Some of you know I’m doing my best to learn other languages. I have been using Duolingo for over a year now, and I hired an online tutor months ago. I felt compelled to learn this given how many people speak in the world. I got a chance to use some of it when I met a Congolese person earlier this year at an off-site event involving my job. I wish I learned that language when I was younger. This language needs to be respected a lot more and it’s not because of the low-hanging fruit of a certain mouse “owning” a specific phrase everyone knows. If you’ve known me long enough, you know exactly what I’m talking about. However, I want to be positive with this post because I swear I’m not an angry person all the time on here.
1: It allows me to see roots in other languages.
I still think it’s interesting how words like “safari”, “Uhura” (Yes, the Star Trek character), and “Jenga” are originally Swahili words. I’ve noticed other words that are from English, Portuguese, and Arabic origins mixed in even though it is a Bantu-based language. Learning about some of the vocabularies, I noticed some connections to Lingala, Kinyarwanda, and Kirundi which was very fascinating.
2: There are multiple countries and communities where I can speak to them.
There are currently 5 countries where it has official status: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and the DRC (this country will come up again!). That’s not even counting countries where it has minority status or at least have pockets of people who know it like Burundi, Mozambique, and Zambia, for example. Even in Comoros, their language of Comorian has multiple intelligible similarities. Interestingly enough, Burundi has more Swahili speakers than Rwanda despite not having it as an official language. Learning another language can really open up a new world.
3: I feel (somewhat) smarter learning.
I don’t want to call myself a genius and I hesitate calling myself intelligent at times, but I do feel like I’ve been gaining brainpower as I get immersed in learning Swahili. It does get difficult with the grammar system and sentence structure, but it helps me do problem-solving. My tutor said my listening skills have improved in understanding what is spoken of me even if I don’t always know the right word to respond. Yes, I’ve resorted to Swahin-glish at times with English words I said to replace words I didn’t know, but at least the tutor said I knew what I she said and saw I’m trying. I then learn new words after the fact and use them in future classes.
4: It forces me to learn cultural nuances I never thought about.
If you learn a new language, you low-key learn about the culture. This can be why certain words have specific meanings or you can’t find words that you can directly translate into English. I asked why certain words worked in certain ways, but what really threw me off were the times. East African nations operate under a different clock that revolves around the sunrise and not just an AM/PM system which really forced me to use math with timezone differences and comparing AM/PM to “Swahili time”.
5: It’s part of my culture.
Some of you know this, but I’m part Congolese which I found out via DNA test through my Mom’s side of the family. It was one of the biggest ethnic samples I got and tied with being Cameroonian as far as African ethnic groups are concerned. Yes, I have various smaller samples of West African nations, but most of the stuff from the motherland came from Central Africa. Swahili is one of 5 official languages in the DRC with millions of speakers. Many of them are multilingual since they also know either Lingala, French, Tshiluba, Kikongo, and/or regional langauges in that nation (over 200 in the DRC alone!). This gave me an incentive to find out more about the heritage I didn’t know about for most of my life. Anyone who’s African-American realizes how tough it is to find ancestry without legit documents and/or DNA tests given how those who were enslaved where metaphorically and literally programmed to forget their ethnic groups, cultural practices, and languages. It’s my way of honoring my ancestors as I learn a language they could’ve spoken back on the continent. Heck, I might have unknown relatives in the Motherland right now!
Those are some reasons why Swahili has helped me. So what do you think?
Anyways, Tutaonana Baadaye!
Some benefits of me learning Swahili