Kiswahili is Tanzania’s most spoken language, followed by English and then over 100 tribal languages.
Kiswahili, called Swahili by the Western, is a very friendly to the ear, phonetic language. I think having a phonetic native language (Greek) made it very easy for me to learn some basic Swahili a lot easier than I remember myself learning English.
Perhaps the man who contributed most to this is Theo, a teacher we used to meet always by coincidence at the café we often went to after hospital for lunch. Theo spoke excellent English and is an exquisite Kswahili teacher as well – thanks to him I am now able to order food in Kiswahili!
Perhaps the words that stayed with me the most are:
Karibu – means welcome. Tanzania is a very welcoming country and I think it would be fair to say that it also reflects in the amount of times people said karibu to me.
Hakuna Matata – believe it or not, Tanzanians use this term all the time and they actually mean it – be free of worries, everything will be alright in the end.
Muzungu – a word that arose during the British colonisation of the area, Muzungu means “white person”. Of course we stood out and people would often call “Muzungu! Muzungu”, which often made me feel uncomfortable because it often had a praising connotation to it. I think of the funniest moments in Tanzania was when Magembe, a local I met there, came up to me and said “Ari, you are not a proper Muzungu, are you?” I burst out into laughter and I said “Indeed, I am more Mediterranean so no, I wouldn’t classify that as ‘proper Muzungu’”.