I have always been an A student in Kiswahili…but just on paper. Reason? I am typical Kenyan.
I just met this german guy on Tandem who was excited to speak to me in Swahili for his practise. However, He seemed to have an easier time finding the swahili vocabulary as compared to me.
To get a perfect picture of what Kenyans speak, check out the #1 Trending song now by Bensoul known as Nairobi.
Just the other day, when I visited my village. We had a four hour one on one chat with my cousin. It was all in english and some sheng. We got to a point where he wondered why we were ever taught swahili. Swahili seems to be inferior in a lot of people’s eyes.
When having a chat at home with my class 8 dropout mother, a mixture of english, swahili and mostly sheng is thrown there. Just the other day, I saw my linguistic/translator/editor/journalist dad (perfect english and swahili), communicating in sheng with his employee.
Look at the stats in TV watching. There are more english listeners to swahili listeners. Look at town churches, more english than swahili. People even struggle to understand what swahili journalists are saying. Yet, when a foreigner comes to Kenya, they are taught ‘Habari yako’. 😂
Who says habari yako. Who the hell says mzuri? Poa. Hi-Hi. Niaje-Poa. Sasa is for kids. Kenyan drama used to be boring when language used was mainly perfect swahili or english. You could see actors and actresses not having fun with. The english ones were better. Now, Kenyan film writers are more reasonable. Having you seen Phil it production dramas? Thats how Kenyans speak.
Talk about youtubers. Apart from the Wider audience reach, if a kenyan was told to choose between speaking in english and swahili, they would go for english. If Kenyan and christian, which language do you pray in? English, right? But there is this real Kenyan youtubers who speak give it just the way it is, Sheng. Have you seen Abel Mutua’s channel. Have you seen CTA interviews?
Go to Kenyan schools or stand around kid’s playgrounds and listen to what kids communicate with. Its either perfect english or pure sheng. Instead of wacha is acha.
Teach foreigners your kind of english, Not swahili. If you can be real with yourself, teach them what you and your colleagues, friends and family use when in a casual and even formal environment, Sheng! No one says, Shilingi mia moja, its one hundred, Soo etc. No one says shilingi kumi, its ten bob or ashuu.
We have abandoned our ethnic languages na tumewachia tanzanians, Burundians na Congolese Kiswahili. If you live in the town areas, you must be speaking some kikuyu like Shosh.
Don’t get me started with ads. We recently learnt masks are barakoa in swahili from journalists. Kenyans stop lying. The sheng disease is now in Tanzania and Uganda.
I may not have perfect english, but I think in english, just like a typical Kenyan.
Where the hell did Jambo come from? Facebook should tell us which languages Kenyans majorly post in. Sheng started before we got our independence. Looks at newspapers and other forms of media.
Don’t get ideas and start writing in pure sheng. You will loose us. I tried it😂. People understand english better than swahili in writing and speak. They speak better in sheng and their english-tainted mothertoungue.
This article has not been edited.
A scientist who writes about her daily experiences. Most are drafts but some are publicly shared, like this one you just read.